Summary: Which image better describes a church? Your church? I know, it’s a metaphor. All metaphors break down at some point. When making a choice, our natural inclination is to choose the cruise ship over the battleship any day.
Opening illustration: watch an illustrative audio-video clip
Introduction: On the surface we would believe that the early church in Acts was blessed with outstanding growth due to the anointed preaching of the apostles; their balanced practices that would evolve into much of our church programming today; and a talented and committed membership base. Only when we gaze beneath the surface do we discover that the church was framed in the midst of adversity.
The early church had to deal with persecution enacted by religious leaders and later, the Roman government itself. The church had to confront hypocrisy within its own ranks as certain members chose to seek reputation enhancement over character development. But in Acts 6 we find the greatest challenge of all … the question concerning what kind of church they were going to be.
When looking at our church and its function which do you more closely associate with? A battleship or a cruise ship? Why?
Differences between a Cruise ship and a Battleship
Cruise-ship / Battleship
1 It is all about the passengers (hassle-free) / All about the mission of the nation (victory)
2 Pay for a temporary ride (people on vacation) / Don’t pay for the ride (all people serve)
3 Brings temporary happiness to the flesh / Brings joy after accomplishing the mission
4 Music and dance for the passengers / Horn for battle (worship is warfare)
5 Captain and crew liked/disliked by passengers / Captain submits to a higher authority
6 Service may be good or bad / Sacrifices are made to support the mission
7 Is there to meet the needs of the passengers / The ship & crew are equipped for warfare
8 Ride has to be pleasant for the travelers / Life is on the line … (dangerous situations)
9 It is all about getting comfortable and complacent / Uncomfortable bunks with regular battles
10 Just there for the ride and the crew to serve them / Able to equip, serve and deploy their talents
* Do I want to sail with them again? / Do I want to sail with them again?
* How DO I choose? / How SHOULD I choose?
Our natural inclination is to choose the cruise ship over the battleship any day. Even when we pay lip service to the battleship mentality, our actions and our words pressure church leadership into creating a cruise ship. The operative words become “I, me, my.” What I like, what I don’t like, what I want… comfort me, make me feel good, make me happy. MY PREFERENCES.
What kind of ship did God intend the church to be?
1. Church with a Vision to fulfill the Mission (Proverbs 29: 18)
When prophetic vision fails, obedience to the Law is the best or only substitute for it, both being forms through which divine wisdom is revealed. Very striking in the midst of ethical precepts is this recognition of the need of a yet higher teaching, without which morality passes into worldly prudence or degenerates into casuistry. The “wise man,” the son of David, has seen in the prophets and in their work the condition of true national blessedness. The darkest time in the history of Israel had been when there “was no open vision 1 Samuel 3: 1; at such a time the people “perish,” are let loose, “are left to run wild.”
Vision: Giving the Water of Life. (John 4: 14) ~ giving and bringing Christ into everyone’s life.
Mission: Pursue and bring about Worship, Prayer, Healing, Evangelism, Missions, Spiritual Awakening, Renewal and Revival in our local community, our state and country.
2. Joy of the Lord is the strength of the church (Nehemiah 8: 10; Philippians]
This is no gluttonous and drunken festival that enervates the body, and enfeebles the mind: from your religious feast your bodies will acquire strength and your minds power and fervor, so that you shall be able to do His will, and to do it cheerfully. Religious joy, properly tempered with continual dependence on the help of God, meekness of mind, and self-diffidence, is a powerful means of strengthening the soul. In such a state every duty is practicable, and every duty delightful. In such a frame of mind no man can ever fell, and in such a state of mind the general health of the body is much improved; a cheerful heart is not only a continual feast, but also a continual medicine. To rejoice, as the Lord commanded them on such days as these, was a means both of increasing their bodily strength and their inward strength, and of fitting them the more to perform their duty to God and men with cheerfulness, which sorrow and heaviness made unfit for; and the joy which has the Lord for its object, and comes from him, is the cause of renewing spiritual strength, so as to run and not be weary, walk and not faint, in the ways of God.