The Competitive Church
In a recent podcast of Building a StoryBrand Donald Miller, the guest explained that even though Amazon stock was at an all-time high, this was still the best time to buy the stock. When pressed for the reason why the guest said because this is the lowest it will ever be. He continued and said in the next ten years, 4 billion new people would be connected online, and Amazon is positioning themselves to be everyone’s supplier! I could not believe my ears, so a quick google search relieved articles like so (check here) backing what the interviewer claims.
Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, in his book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, talks about the impact, influence, and insight these companies have
over our lives. The book is divided into two sections. Chapters one through five are used to sketch out the rise of these companies and the formation of their identity. Devaki Nadkarni, Assistant Professor, IES Management College and Research Centre, Mumbai, writes in his review, “the author (Scott Galloway) critically analyses the ascent of these four companies which he calls as four horsemen, from their inception, how they have conquered/beaten the competition and reached to the present position”. The second portion of the book looks at the business environment of these companies, and Galloway offers his prediction of a so-called Fifth horseman, and also provides advice on how we can personally incorporate these business practices to become successful as well.
One cannot deny the impact these companies have had on the world. While some countries have banned them from operating inside their borders, they have created a similar platform for profit. In my own life, I am both grateful for the luxuries or distraction these companies afford me but also get angry when Amazon’s next day service does not show up the next day. Filipe Domingues aptly writes, “The Four have, indeed, improved our lives in many ways, especially when it comes to comfort and efficiency. But they did not do it for charity. In the words of Pope Francis, whom the author briefly quotes at least twice, these companies act as if they were guided by an ‘idolatry of money.’
In reading this book, I was reminded of Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism, and his challenge to digitally declutter our lives. One theme I noticed over and over again between these four companies was competition. Once they devoured the other companies in their space, they are now only competing with each other. On the one hand, I understand why this “ok” in the business world, but on the other hand, the impact on local/small business owners is not ok because it forces many of them to close. I fear that this business’s mindsight of competition has overtaken the church as well.
With the rise of the church growth movement and Mega-churches in American and the advent of social media where everyone has a platform, it has led to the competitive nature of us versus them to “win” the souls of people. Pastors seem to care more about view count and comments rather than Christ touching and transforming his people. Pastors behave more like CEO’s leaders of corporations rather than guides to God’s people. The emerging generation in the latest research from Barna in partnership with World Vision revels, “Four out of five affirm—and nearly half strongly affirm—that “society is facing a crisis of leadership because there are not enough good leaders right now” (82%)” probing deeper when asked what are the biggest challenges to leadership the research stats, “Most of the 18–35-year-olds Barna surveyed around the world—on average, half (50%)—believe that “everyone is too busy and distracted” and “ Everyone has to compete in a global marketplace (43%).” This all leads me to the question, is pastoring synonymous with leadership, or are they different things? If pastoring involves leadership, what type of leadership should it conform too?
 Devaki Nadkarni, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (Anvesha 10, no. 3, 2017), 55.
 Barna Research, The Connected Generation: How Christian Leaders Around the World Can Strengthen Faith and Well-Being Among 18-35-Year-Olds (Ventura, CA: Barna Group, 2019), 124
10 responses to “The Competitive Church”
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I’m kicking myself for not buying Amazon stock at their IPO. However I did manage to buy Apple stock early and realized substantial earnings. My only regret is that I pulled out of it prematurely. 🙁
1 out of 2 isn’t bad…but hindsight is always 20/20 🙂
Your final question is both critical and thought-provoking. From my work with pastors and church planters, I would lean towards pastors being leaders but not synonymous with leadership. Otherwise, pastors are prone to fall into all of the narcissism of many other leaders. Perhaps, pastors are called to influence leadership rather than leadership influencing pastors. What do you think?
I like this line of thinking. This is what I leaning towards…being a pastor 1st then doing leadership.
Mario, You have asked very important questions on Pastoral leadership. I think every Christian leader needs to ask these important question: what kind of leadership glorifies God? Are we allowing The Holy Spirit to direct our leadership?
Yes, Wallace I agree!
Mario, it has been such a joy to journey through education with you and watch you grow. Your questions in this post are critical to your own shaping. I’m old enough to remember when the church never used the word “leader” but simply talked about pastors, evangelists, etc. and yet wonderful leadership took place, the kind where people were loved, seen and discipled. I remember when the church growth/leadership phenomenon began and we got caught up in the craze going to every conference we could find only to now say, just love, care, and disciple people with truth and grace. Don’t use the people to grow the church, use the church to grow the people. Make disciples and let Jesus build His Church. Thanks for enduring my soapbox. 🙂
You’re too kind Tammy and it’s been a joy to journey with you as well! I will be stealing your line for my essay with proper citation of course.
Don’t use the people to grow the church, use the church to grow the people!
Well – your post and Tammy’s response to you about sums up my thoughts on church. Well done! Thanks for sharing the study results about the crisis of leadership from young people’s perspective. I find their reasons enlightening – distraction and pressure from our global, cutthroat market. Will we or should we eliminate the four and their impact on church? Probably not but God help us to be the kinds of leaders that work to be like Jesus. Christlikeness is the goal – and I find thinking of Him keeps me from being paralyzed by the challenges facing the Church today. Appreciate you.
Yes and Amen! Appreciate you!!