“Our church is like a cruise ship,” our pastor said, illustrating his message on church involvement. “For the ship to operate well, it needs lots of people working in all sorts of different jobs. In addition to all the crew to run the boat, you need waiters and waitresses, activities directors, childcare workers, maids for room service, people to clean the deck, etc. It is a huge undertaking.”
Our church has 2000 – 3000 people coming each week and so the cruise ship analogy fit with its few thousand people on board.
“Similarly with a large church in addition to the pastoral staff and their assistants,” he continued, “you need ushers and guides, Sunday school teachers and helpers, and people to oversee them. And that doesn’t include…” He took another ten minutes listing all the roles in the church and developing the analogy.
A few minutes after the ending prayer I was mulling it over – the church as a cruise ship? After thinking a little bit about the sermon, I wrote an email to him suggesting a better analogy for the future.
“Appreciate your message today. We certainly need more people helping out. But could I offer another analogy that I think better fits. Do we really want to provide a luxury vacation liner for people? Is that the best analogy for the church? I think an aircraft carrier might be better. We still need lots of people to do lots of work, but it’s for battle not for enjoyment. In fact, everyone on board has a job to do and each plays a key role. Like the carrier, we battle right where we are, but also send missions out by plane to fight in other locations. And we are constantly taking people in; the wounded are cared for right in the emergency wards on board. Maybe I am stretching the analogy. But you get the idea…”
1 Peter 3:9 “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…” We are all involved in the ministry of the church.
To the whole church at Ephesus Paul writes in 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Too often the church has caved to the luxury model and to the consumer orientation of our age. We feel the church has to have the newest technology, the warmest tones for the building, and the plushest seats for the auditorium. We bend over backwards making sure not to offend any of our constituencies. We offer a myriad of choices for all levels and ages, a program for everybody and every need.
Friends, we are in a battle, a battle for our culture and ourselves. We need to change our mindset. Surely we don’t want to have the place look so ugly it turns people off, but the priority is, with the Lord at the helm, to win the battle. The key is to train people up and equip them and send them out, so day in and out they cannot only survive but be victorious. And everyone needs to take part in the church, not so we have the biggest church around, but so we can win the battle in the hearts of people around.