Community Not Competition

One of my favorite places to frequent in Portland is a shop called Pips Original Donuts and Chai. They have an incredible product. Bitesized donuts made right when you order them, so they are hot when they are served to you. Six different handmade Chai tea drinks, each uniquely concocted and delightful. They have collaborated with a local coffee roaster, Extracto Roasters, and prepare all of their coffee beverages with great care.
Now you may be wondering, “am I reading a food article right now?” The answer is no, but I want you to know how good the product is. It is incredible, but that is not the main thing that keeps me coming back, day after day (when I say I frequent Pips it might be an understatement). What has me keep coming back each day, what makes me tell everyone I know about one of the tastiest treats in Portland, is actually the embodiment of their business philosophy.
Community Not Competition.
It is incredibly inspiring to watch not only how the staff at Pips interacts with people who come in everyday. Always genuinely happy, always friendly, joyful, helpful, and patient even when the line is out the door and down the street.
Shortly after arriving in Portland I had the pleasure of meeting Nate, who owns and operates Pips alongside his wife Jamie. We talked about Portland, and all that he had seen throughout his life as he has lived there. He then began to tell me about how he works with other business owners, coaching them toward their goals and dreams. He shares the story and philosophy of how Pips does business and it is without prejudice.
It’s not just that I heard Nate say these things, I have seen it. It is not an uncommon thing to see Nate sitting down with a business owner who is trying to figure out their niche. He listens to where they are at and then provides whatever help he can in the journey, even to the point that I have seen him go back behind the counter, grab some of their product (bottle of Nutella, or small container of candied bacon), hand it to them and say here try this maybe this will help. It is also a common thing for them to pump other businesses on their social media outlets.
What I have realized is that hearing and watching all of this unfold before my eyes gave words and handles to something my heart has been longing for, for a long time. What I believed about how the local church should operate in any given city, is to work for the good of the city. Realizing that we are all a part of the same family, we have one Father, one God who unites us together in His family (Eph 4:4-6).
The church, in all her beautiful expressions, should embody the idea of community not competition.
This can be particularly hard, when starting a new church. It is easy to get lost in how many people you are engaging, how many people are participating, and how many people simply identify with what I am working toward.
What I believe, however is that we need to have a Global view of the Kingdom, when starting a new church. It is not that, I believe we shouldn’t have multiple expressions of the church, I do, but I believe that our view of the church must be bigger than one expression in one neighborhood. Call it crazy, but I think that what made the church so explosive in various times throughout history, was a vision that saw the church reach the nations. It pushed the church into places it may never have thought it would be.
I am also convinced that having a more global view of the church breeds a certain unity among church leaders in a city. It helps us to connect to a city in ways that we never thought possible, because we can inherently do more together than we can a part. It is why I believe Jesus prays so emphatically for the unity of his people (Jn 17).
Let us not strive to silo ourselves out into our individual “christian” communes but strive for a united Church, a Holy Catholic Church, if you will. A Church that is united in proclaiming the victory of Christ in every city it exists. A Church that shows the unity of the family of God. This is how people will know that God is not just present and active, but that God is good and unifying.
May the peace of Christ dwell on you and in the Church uniting all things to himself. Amen.

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