#656 – Comparing Churches



I was still doing a little vacationing this past weekend so Alycia and I went to a different church. It’s always weird going to a different church than your church.

We know our church.

We know the people.

We know the liturgy.

We know when to sneak out in order to miss greeting time.

We’re comfortable at our church and it can be a little scary to visit a different church.

We don’t know the church.

We don’t know the people.

We don’t know when to stand or sit.

We get stuck greeting people when we could have easily gone to the bathroom.

However, there’s something much worse than sitting when we’re supposed to stand or taking the bread before we’re supposed to. Sitting in another church this past weekend, I couldn’t help but compare that church to my church.

I don’t think I’m not the only one who struggles with comparing churches. Hopefully, though, all of you are far more mature than I am and can simply appreciate each church for what it is.

As I was sitting in another church, though, I couldn’t help but compare it to my church. I made observations about the worship leader, the lighting, the engagement of the congregation and the sermon. I’ve spent my entire life in church and have been involved in every aspect of a worship service from tech to worship leading to preaching. With all those years of church experience it’s so difficult not to compare and critique. It’s hard to sit and experience God when I’m thinking about how my church is better or worse at helping people experience God.

That’s the problem with comparing churches: it makes us feel bad about both our church and the other church. If we’re sitting in another church and notice how our church does something better, then we’re going to feel bad about the other church. Conversely, though, if we’re sitting in another church and notice how the other church does something better, then we’re going to feel bad about our church.

Even though it’s so easy to compare and critique churches, including our own, it’s something we have to work against. Nothing stops our ability to experience God in a worship service faster than folding our arms and picking apart the service. It’s true that there are different churches that reach different people with different sensibilities. But whatever church we’re at, if we’re always looking for what’s wrong or bad or different, then we won’t be looking at God.

God wants to use worship services to draw us nearer to himself so he can make us better. He can’t do that if we’re only thinking about how we want to make the worship service better.

How do you keep from comparing and critiquing worship services?


6 comments on “#656 – Comparing Churches”

  1. Being a pastor, I tend to compare sermons. How would I preached that particular passage differently? How would I have said this or that differently? Would that song have worked in my church setting? It’s hard not to compare. But I also look for what I can steal…I mean borrow…from other churches. Would this work in my church? Could I use that illustration in a sermon sometime down the road? Good thoughts here.

  2. Just to play devil’s advocate (so to speak), is it always wrong to critique worship services that are not one’s own? If the goal is simply to tear the other service down in order to make you feel better about your own church, then, yes, that would be bad; but if the goal is to understand why a different church does things differently, and then either to learn from that or to say, “Now I know why we don’t do things that way,” I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. “Bad” is not automatically equal to “different.”

    And maybe there are times we *should* be feeling bad about the way our own churches do things, if another church’s practice shows us up as being unfaithful.

    1. I agree with you, Mike. It’s good to glean what we can and learn from other churches. Often times, for me at least, that gleaning turns into the tearing down or the competitive comparison.

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