Okay, okay! So, I technically know that other churches in the community are not "competition." We are all on the same team. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Here is a good article from Guy Kawasaki: Bona tempora volvantur--by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy
I think if we see other churches as inspiring to do better, if know ourselves, know our "customers," and focus on the customers (not in a materialistic way) we could inspire each other to bigger better things.
The problem that often happens is that we feel beat up. We feel demoralized because we are not this or that person. We have a false view of what "success" is in the ministry. I think this often stems from not knowing who you are as a church and as a pastor.
One of the biggest lessons I learned throughout the early years of the church plant, was that I needed to know who I was theologically and practically before I could lead the church anywhere. Then, as the lead pastor, I needed to help the church create an identity that I could find myself in.
One of the biggest problems is that a pastor assumes the leadership of an existing church, and then tries to recreate it into something it was never meant to be. I think the direction of the church has to be part God-inspired vision in the pastor born from an understanding of the local church and what it is called to do. I think this is partly done in community. Sometimes God is specific about the particulars of a vision, but often God simply says, "Find a way to care for the poor." "Find a way to make my word relevant" "Help people worship me."
We do a great disservice as pastors when we attempt to mold a church into our image or into someone else's image. If you discover that you cannot "find" yourself in the church you are working, you are probably in the wrong church. Someone once told me, "Plant the church that you would attend." I think that is good advice.