This weekend, I found myself getting unreasonably angry at (most) local churches on my social media feeds. As I was scrolling around Facebook and Instagram (I’m too old for Snapchat), it became apparent that the American Church may be one of the only remaining institutions that feels compelled to remind people of the end of Daylight Savings Time and, for some reason, on this particular occasion, it bothered me.

A lot.

I know. I shouldn’t care if a bunch of churches are unnecessarily telling people to “set their alarms so they can be there on time.”

I really shouldn’t.

But I do.

I’ve been considering this for a few days now, and I think I’ve identified the root cause of my frustration—after viewing so many recurring church reminders, I’m fearful that something larger, something much more toxic is at work, namely, if one church does something (i.e., create a sweet and highly shareable meme) every other church feels the need to follow suit.

While I’d like to chalk this fear up to my cynicism, I think this is sort of what we do.

We compare.

We compete.

We “borrow” ideas.

We try to one-up each other in order to win people over.

Tell me if any of these scenarios land:

“The church down the street just launched their weekly services on Facebook Live! We need to buy a decent camera as soon as possible and get our stuff online or else we are going to miss opportunities.”

“The church across town just did a public forum on (insert important social issue here). We should probably host something too, right? I mean, we care about (same important social issue). What if all the (same important social issue) advocates started going to (the church that just hosted a forum on important social issue)? Then what?”

“I know every church is doing a Trunk-or-Treat this year, but why aren’t we?! How will the community know we love Jesus if we don’t give out fun-sized Milky Way bars? They’re delicious.”

“Hey, did you see the huge church across town baptized 1,000(,000,000) people last month? How many have we baptized … umm … ever?”

Or what about these:

“We have to do small groups this way because that’s how everyone else does it.”

“I know communion is important, but we have to let the sermon be the *star* of the service. Statistics show that people are looking for a good sermon when they are picking a new church, so we need to give it to them.”

“Did you realize that we are in the same year in our church start as (fill-in-the-blank) church, and they just launched another service (or hired a worship leader, or redesigned their website, or did some cool community event)? We need to do that too.”

And then there’s this:

“Thoughts and prayers for the victims of …”

“Thoughts and prayers for the victims of …”

“Thoughts and prayers for the victims of …”

“Great game, Ravens. Thoughts and prayers for the victims of …”

I know that I’m not alone in this.

As pastors, there is a very real (and often unaddressed) pressure to meet the consumeristic demands of our culture—to replicate the church down the road, but to do it better, to do it more consistently, and to do it with cooler clothes, artisanal coffee, and original music.

I know it is difficult to “create culture,” but as church starters, we should at least attempt to “create our culture,” and hopefully we can do so without the comparison, without the competition, without the borrowing/stealing and one-upping.

There’s this old sketch on Mad TV featuring Bob Newhart. He’s playing a psychiatrist, who, regardless of the stories his patients bring him, repeats the same advice. When the patient is done telling him about what they believe is wrong, he simply says, “Stop it.”

It’s a terrible counseling move, but when I’m tempted to do what everyone else is doing just because it seems to be working elsewhere or when I begin to entertain unfair and unhealthy comparisons, I sometimes repeat his terse (and somewhat cold) advice to myself: “Stop it.”

Stop it. We don’t need to put up a meme for people to get to church on time if the clocks change. They all use their phones to tell time, and they automatically update.

We don’t have the resources or desire to host a Trunk-or-Treat. And why would we? Every other church within a 5 mile radius is already doing it. We could just join them.

We don’t need to lament the fact that other churches have baptized more people than we have. I would actually say that any church baptizing anyone in the name of the Triune God is worth celebrating because, as we are often reminded, every person does have a story.

We don’t need to compare our programs or events to more “successful” churches, and I don’t need to compare my sermons or delivery or personality to other pastors.

And, forgive my timing, but we don’t really do our communities any good simply by posting routinized (and seemingly detached) condolences whenever tragedy hits. By all means, pray. By all means, grieve. By all means, weep. By all means, be compelled to action. God knows we need communities that are called to action. But I’m not so sure we should feel the need to announce it online just because everyone else is. And if we do—if the Spirit is truly moving us to address these weighty and important issues—we should at least be honest and authentic for the sake of our communities and anyone else reading our posts.

Church starting is a process.

Church “continuing” is too.

There is a very real temptation to give in and follow the status quo, even if it probably won’t work in our communities.

Fight it.

Instead, we should strive to be true to the vision and mission that God has placed in our hearts.

So never cower for the sake of competition.

Never waiver out of fear.

Never diminish your calling by comparing yourself to others.

And never post a dumb meme if you don’t have to.

Josh James (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is one of the pastors of The Restoration Project in Salisbury, MD. He extends his deepest apologies to any readers who love to post memes on their church Facebook Page.