Summary: I read an article recently that described different types of churches as ships. One definition of the word vessel is a type of boat or ship. There are many types of vessels. And some of these vessels can be compared to different types of churches we see out there.
I read an article recently that described different types of churches as ships. One definition of the word vessel is a type of boat or ship. There are many types of vessels. And some of these vessels can be compared to different types of churches we see out there.
1) The Cruise Ship.
We go on a cruise ship to relax and have fun. A cruise ship looks elegant and is aesthetically pleasing. It has all the appealing amenities and extras. They have great shows too. Some churches are like this. This type of church would appeal to someone who's looking to be entertained. This would appeal to someone who wants to be comfortable.
A cruise ship is a massive vessel and it holds a lot of people. Likewise, a cruise ship style church is large and holds a lot of people. Although you can engage with other people on a cruise ship, but if you don't want to you could easily go unnoticed and blend in. Likewise, at a cruise ship style church you could just show up and blend in with the crowd.
And the idea with a cruise ship is you are the guest and the staff is there to serve you. Part of the appeal for a cruise ship style church is I can go and get fed without feeling pressured to serve. Since they have so many people there already serving, the need for me to serve wouldn't be as urgent as if I were at a smaller church.
Now, before anyone accuses me of condemning the mega-church, I'm not saying there aren't any legitimate ones who are in line with the will of God and doing the work of God or that mega churches don't have any genuine Christians who love the Lord .
However, with that said, I think these comparisons are legitimate. It's easy to get focused on the wrong things at a big church; there can be plenty of lesser things that serve as distractions from the greater things. I can become preoccupied with the coffee bar or the gift shop or something else.
During worship I can be focused on watching the band on the stage instead of being focused on the Lord. I can feel good about attending church instead of feeling good about being the church. Not that those who go to a mega-church are all superficial and shallow, but it's easier to be superficial and shallow when a church has a lot of things that can draw your attention away from what it's supposed to be all about. It might not be done intentionally, but it's there.
Another thing you see on a cruise ship are people all dressed up. You would probably rarely see someone walking around in shabby clothes. Likewise, this can be how it is at a cruise ship style church. Not that we shouldn't be focused on looking appropriate when we go to church but there can be too much emphasis placed on how I look. The people that James wrote to fell into this trap.
James 2:1-4, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Churches today commit this same error. I've been told some churches have a dress code. I'm not sure if they would ask you to leave if you showed up in jeans and a t-shirt but they may strongly suggest you don't do it again. I would say they have the same issue as the ones in James.
Again, not that we shouldn't take our manner of dress seriously when we go to church but to show favoritism and treat people according to the clothes they wear is not in line with God's will. The churches that make people feel unwelcome because they're not dressed up have their priorities wrong. These are some of the aspects of a cruise ship style church.
A destroyer is made for warfare; for combat. You could say the same about a battleship. On these types of ships you'll find the sailors are prepared and ready for battle and focused on combat. Likewise there is also a combative attitude in some churches. On the positive side, this is the church that is armored up and ready for spiritual warfare.
They are courageous and ready to take on the enemy. They've been trained and know what to do. They look out for one another-the veterans help the newer ones; unity is a priority. They trust their commander Jesus and follow his orders. This is the positive view.