Summary: Four captains played significant roles in the tragedy which unfolded that fateful night. Each modeled a leadership style thatmspeaksmvolumesmto the church today.
On April 15th, we pause to reflect on an event which happened one hundred years ago...the sinking of the Titanic.
This ship, and the stories that surround it have fascinated people throughout the world ever since that fateful night. Thousands of books have been written and millions of dollars spent to bring to light all the events which created this mind-numbing tragedy.
Titanic was built before World War I, before the Great Depression, before commercial flight and during an era when automobiles were a luxury only the very rich could afford. Prosperity and hope rested in many hearts. The oceans and the railroad were the common means of travel, and millions of Europeans left hearth and home to pursue their dreams in America.
Shipyards competed to build greater and greater luxury liners to impress the world and make a tidy profit for their owners. White Star Line intended to dominate the industry by building three ships: The Olympic, The Titanic and The Gigantic.
With the initial success of The Olympic, White Star strove to even greater heights in plans for the Titanic. She would be the largest, most luxurious ship ever built with features never seen before including a swimming pool and amazing first class accommodations. The sheer magnitude of materials used to create the ship led some members of the press to suggest that even God could not sink the Titanic.
Captain Smith was selected to pilot the ship. One of the most decorated sea captains, he had never experienced a serious mishap at sea. Titanic's maiden voyage was to be his last post before retiring.
So let's get to why Titanic may in fact hold a message to the church today.
First, the lifeboats. Titanic carried specially equipped lifeboats designed to hold up to 65 passengers. This was an amazing feat within itself. Unfortunately, lifeboats use up deck space. Even though plans called for 48 lifeboats which could accommodate 3200 people, the managing director demanded the number be reduced to 16 so that more passengers could enjoy the magnificence of the ship.
Once underway, the normal procedure was to conduct lifeboat drills to ensure everyone knew what to do and where to go in case of emergency. None were held. Not a single crewman was trained to lower or deploy a lifeboat. Most had no idea of the special davits Titanic was equipped with allowing lifeboats to be lowered with increased capacity.
The night if the tragedy was absolutely cam. The sea was like glass on a moonless night. Fred Fleet, the lookout did not have a pair of binoculars to spot icebergs. he would only use his natural eyes.
Onboard, passengers ate and drank and danced and laughed oblivious to what would come stealthily in the night. Suddenly, a rubbing and breaking sound and the ship came to a halt. Chunks of ice appeared on deck and many passengers began playing with them, still unaware that their lives were in danger.
Gradually, the news dawned on everyone. Titanic would not survive the night. Reality set in. Many would be lost. Captain Smith would not retire, but go down with his ship.
How did all this happen? The simple answer is arrogance, but there is more to the story that takes more time than one sermon allows.
You see, the buzz about Titanic created the false idea that Titanic did not need lifeboats - she WAS a lifeboat! Why do you need drills if you cannot sink?
During the night, a German ship telegraphed the Titanic warning of icebergs. The message was ignored. Who cares? The ship can't sink!
Has today's church been lulled to sleep by its own feelings of invincibility? Only 5% of Christians ever lead a single person to Christ during their lifetime. 5%! Churches don't train believers to go and rescue the lost. Instead, we tell people to come to church and be saved. We don't need to train believers to disciple unchurched people. Our church IS the lifeboat! Bring them on Sunday and they will be saved, discipled, set free and made complete, all for a tithe and one hour of their time! Not only that, we'll disciple their kids for free!
When Titanic hit the iceberg, some lifeboats went into the water with only 12 passengers aboard. Mass confusion reigned that night. Much yelling, scamming and threatening occurred as officers finally had to hold people off with guns. Multitudes died because Titanic thought lifeboats were for losers.
If church members are not being trained to win and disciple lost people, what is our reason for existence? Jesus' command is very plain in Matthew 28:18-20: GO and make disciples, not stay, wait for the pastor to bring people to Christ and grow our church. Today's church isn't an army, it is a nursery where leaders spend all their time giving perpetually immature Christians their next feeding!