Having recently read Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor I have been thinking a lot lately about the idea of competitive ministry vs. contemplative ministry.
Like Peterson, I am a competitive person by nature living in the midst of competitive systems. For eight years I was involved in competitive speech and debate. After college I was married, started graduate school on a nice scholarship, soon began serving a church and have marked much of “success” in life and ministry in competitive ways.
- Is giving increasing?
- How about membership?
- Worship attendance?
- How is our church doing (in statistically measurable ways) in relationship to how we were a couple of years ago?
- How about in relationship to the church down the road?
While I appreciate the contemplative/competitive conversation, after finishing Peterson’s book I found myself wondering if might be a false dichotomy. Might there be a middle way, a way to do life and ministry that is both competitive and contemplative?
Over coffee recently I asked Ben what he thought about the potential for a competitive/contemplative middle ground. He responded with a question of his own, “what do you think that other option would look like?”
My answer today is the same as it was then.
I don’t know.
But I continue to think about it and wonder what a competitive/contemplative option might be.
What do you think? Do you think these two ways of living and being in ministry can co-exist or are they by nature mutually exclusive?