Have you ever thought about how many American churches resemble cruise ships in more ways than just their physical structure which are VERY expensive to upkeep and maintain? People who attend ”cruise ship churches,” much like cruise ship passengers, often come to be entertained and catered to by the staff. Very little is expected of these church attendees. In fact, they tend to rate the quality of their experience—the music, the sermon, and the way it made them feel—much as cruise ship passengers rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their trip.
Cruise ship churches tend to be internally focused on the needs of their regularly attending members. The main goal in these churches, as on a cruise ship, is to keep the “customer” happy and the complaints to a minimum. Leaders in a cruise ship church focus on the existing members rather than pursuing those far from God or encouraging others to do so. Very little of a church’s money, calendar, training, or communication is spent on activities to reach the lost or help those in need outside the church. Overall, there seems to be little incentive or empowerment of church members to “get off the cruise ship” and into the real world. All their needs are being met.
There are, however, churches that are more like aircraft carriers. These churches are designed to empower all members to find their God-given purpose, to equip them, and to send them on missions into the world to reach and serve those who don’t know Jesus, much like the crew of an aircraft carrier is all about launching military planes and equipping them well to carry out successful missions. An aircraft carrier is the same size as many cruise ships, housing close to 8,000 people? A super aircraft carrier rises 20 stories above the water and stretches as long as a 77-story office building is tall. Besides its size, what distinguishes an aircraft carrier ship is its efficiency on the flight deck. The crew of an aircraft carrier can launch a plane every 25 seconds—all in a fraction of the space of a typical runway. The mission pervades every aspect of the ship. From the pilot to the person who peels the potatoes, everyone on a carrier knows his or her role and how it supports the overall mission—to equip, prepare, launch, and receive aircraft back from their crucial assignments. An “aircraft carrier church” has a clear mission. Everyone in the church knows why their church exists. They all understand their purpose. The annual budget, weekly sermons, monthly calendar, insider and outsider communications, and predominant conversations are all consistent with the stated mission of the church.
So, is your church more like a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier??? Are you lounging or launching???
Oh, speaking of cruise ships, probably the most famous was the Titanic. Do you know why 1500 of the 2200 passengers died when that cruise ship sank? Almost all of the far too few twenty lifeboats (with a capacity of 1178) were only half full. Only one boat finally returned to help, but it was too late. Only six people were rescued from the frigid (killing) North Atlantic waters. So why did so many die? Because those who were saved and safe wouldn’t go after those who were perishing.