Is Your Church A Cruise Ship or A Battleship?
February 1, 2018 | View PDF
This article could be a catalyst for some IMPORTANT discussions about the spiritual direction and mission of your church! Please read, and I would love to hear your feedback. My email is listed below.
How do you view your church?
Do you view your church primarily as a Cruise Ship or as a Battleship?
It makes all the difference in how you view the spiritual direction and mission of your church!
Here are some questions to ponder which may help you determine which way you truly see your church.
If you view your church more as a Cruise Ship, you may find yourself usually asking:
Do I like the music in the ballroom?
Do I like the captain and his crew?
Is the service good?
Are my needs met?
Is my cruise pleasant?
Is it comfortable?
Do I want to sail with them again?
If you view your church more as a Battleship, you may find yourself usually asking:
Is this ship on a clear and noble mission?
Does the captain and crew submit to a higher authority?
Are the crew members equipped to succeed?
Are we able to contribute in significant ways?
Are we prepared for the battles of life?
Do we know the battle plan?
Are we armed and ready?
Are we committed to defend, help and rescue others?
Are we willing to fight for the freedom of others?
Are people honored for their service?
Perhaps, most of us Christians really prefer the Cruise Ship metaphor.
Billy Graham believes that 97% of Christ followers are what he calls "carnal Christians." They are saved and going to heaven, but they live their lives just like the rest of the folks in our culture. There is no discernible difference. In other words, they are totally focused on themselves and their personal needs, wants and desires. Most of them would never say it, but what they really want the church to be is their Cruise Ship. It is all about ME ... and MY needs, My wants and My desires! Let's admit it. One hour on Sunday is plenty for me. All of us, to some degree, secretly desire most everything to be about us and what we want. Right?
So, what's wrong with having a cruise ship mentality at your church?
A lot actually!
In my opinion, based on the way I read the teachings of Jesus and the early church, the better metaphor for the church ... including your church... is a battleship.
In their book, "Start This, Stop That", my friends Jim and Jennifer Cowart, Pastors at Harvest UMC near Macon ,GA., explore these metaphors for church. They say that there is actually a lot of things wrong with us having a cruise ship mentality about our church.
Number one is this. It's not really your church or my church!
In their book they say, "It (the Church) belongs to Jesus Christ, and he designed it for something else entirely: a rescue mission. So, here is a more biblical metaphor. Your church should be a battleship.That's right: an all-hands-on-deck, batten-down-the-hatches, full-speed-ahead, lean, mean, fighting machine. This ship, the church, was built for a specific mission. It's called the Great Commission: " Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." - Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20. These are our orders. They come straight from the Commander in Chief, Jesus."
Jim and Jennifer ask, " What kind of church is your church? Are you cruising or rescuing? Has the crew been assigned a (battle) station or given a lounge chair with an umbrella? If your church has turned into a cruise ship, then your church has an identity crisis. You are using what God intended to be a battleship for a pleasure ride."
When any church has an identity crisis, people are apt to do and say all kinds of crazy things in search of who they/we are. People tend to make decisions about whether they like the spiritual direction or the mission of the church based on their view of the purpose of the church.
I believe that most every church has a bit of an identity crisis going on! Your church and my church are no exception! I'm sure there are some folks in our churches that think we are a cruise ship and others who think we are a battleship. I have grown to believe that every church should be a battleship with a noble and clear mission based on the Great Commission given to us by Christ himself.
We draw people into the church by reaching out to rescue the hurting and the lost as we offer love, hospitality, hope and healing in the name of Christ. But we don't stop there...
Everything we are doing should have to do with carrying out the Great Commission---- making disciples, empowering disciples, and sending disciples out to serve.
What's your view of your church? Do you see it more as a cruise ship or more as a battleship? If you were to be completely honest, which one would you want your church to be? Which one do you think God wants it to be? Which one should we seek to be in the future?
Love to hear your thoughts! Let's get some conversation going on this. Discuss it with your Pastor, Life Group, Sunday School Class, Bible study, or with your friends and fellow church members!
The direction of your church is directly impacted by the metaphor you choose!