Competition can bring out the best in a team. Competing against another teammate can push an individual to greater endurance, strength, and accomplishments.
Competition can also bring out the worst in a team. Individuals can hoard resources to prevent a teammate from moving ahead. People can focus more on winning and losing.
In an organization like a church, competing values can hinder a church from accomplishing its goals. It can lead to disunity if it remains unchecked. But it can also cause the leaders to reevaluate what they want to accomplish.
Should a church allow individuals to bring coffee into the worship center? Do the leaders value hospitality over maintaining a sense of reverence? Do they want people to feel at home or do they want to protect a sacred space?
Should a church change their name to remove a label like Baptist or Evangelical Free? Do they want to remove an unnecessary barrier that keeps the unchurched from attending or do they want to maintain a traditional identity? Do they want to attract the unchurched or those who identify with their beliefs?
Should a church hire well-educated, experienced staff members or raise up their own staff? Do they prefer to hire a finished product or invest in those who show potential?
Should a church embrace change or maintain tradition? Are they willing to step out in faith and try new things or do they focus on the comfortable and familiar?
Should a church enforce a dress code in the worship service or for those on the platform? Do they focus on the outward appearance or emphasize the heart attitude?
Hospitality versus reverence. Outreach versus familiar. Trained versus training. Faith versus comfort. Heart versus appearance. Which values should win out?
In my previous church, one woman left over the issue of coffee. She focused on reverence and was offended that people brought their coffee into the worship service. I wanted people to feel at home and was glad they were in church. Our values were in conflict and she left over the issue.
While I believe we need to think through our practices, I am even more convinced we need to examine why we do what we do. We need to wrestle with our values and what we are communicating. After we identify the values we hold dear, we need to be intentional about ensuring that we are living them out.