Pastor Roy said to me, “I have it on good authority that Pastor Tom has come into my church on Sunday afternoons and nosed around, trying to find who visited our church that morning and if any of his members joined us.”
We both called that taking insecurity to the next level.
There’s a lot of insecurity in the ministry, unfortunately. Some pastors forget their assignment to take the gospel to the world and shrink their field of ministry to the neighborhood around their church. If someone else starts a church inside what they consider their territory, they resent it. If the new church prospers, they feel jealous. If they lose members to that church, they become deadly enemies.
I know from personal experience how it happens. You’re leading a church that has been dying for years and you’re looking for any signs of life and revival. Suddenly a family joins your church. The fact that they are moving their membership from another congregation in the same town matters very little. All that counts is that someone thought your church was attractive enough, that your ministries were important enough, and that your preaching was successful enough that they wanted to join you. Sometimes that is the only encouragement you get in a month.
Meanwhile, the pastor of the church that just lost that family may take the loss personally, depending on a lot of things. If his church is otherwise healthy and prospering, he will take it in stride. If he also is struggling to stay alive, an entire family jumping ship can be a death blow. If it turns out that you were guilty of enticing them in any way, the pastor understandably takes it personally and feels insulted.
Just so easily do neighboring pastors, even of the same denomination, become competitors.