Manning the battleship

Last week Brad Abare was twittering from the ECHO conference hosted by Watermark Church in Dallas, TX. He quoted the pastor of Watermark, Todd Wagner, asking the question, “do you want your church to be a cruise ship or a battleship.” Usually, I’m not too big on quaint phrases on churchology but this one really stuck with me for a week. Now for anything to stick in my head for a week that means something! Over the last few weeks I’ve really been looking at Ephesus and what we’re becoming vs. what God is calling us to. That’s why that phrase is stuck in my brain. Planting a new church in a new urban center like where we are in Charlotte is a tough deal. It doesn’t follow the “models” at all. I’ve known this from day one, and the team knows this too, but when things get a little tough I have this tendency to let my brain slip back to the “church planting handbook.” By that I mean ways to generate a crowd and conduct uber-marketing etc to get hiney’s in the seats (we’re not allowed to say “butts” in our house anymore because our 4 year old would abuse it, much like his old man does…). I have the thought that all this leads us to is marketing to other Christians looking for a cooler, hipper church that they can brag to their other Christian friends about. So with all that struggle running through my head I see this Tweet from Brad Abare about the cruise ship v. battleship and it really stuck. 

I was thinking about it some more on my way to the office today, fleshing out the analogy. This past week at Ephesus we were in Ephesians 6.10-13 where Paul is laying out the reality of the spiritual war raging around us constantly and I used a LOT of military illustrations in the midst of the sermon (Casey got on me about that so I knew there were too many) because it is a battle, a war we’re in. We’ve grown complacent as Christians, Satan’s favorite tactic. So this cruise ship/battleship analogy so speaks to that as it pertains to the kind of church we are a part of developing. When you go on a cruise, you look for the boat with all the stuff, that is going to cater to YOUR every want and desire. You’re going to stuff yourself silly at the midnight buffet. Look for all the activities you can handle at every port and give a cursory thought to the personal responsibilities you have in case of emergency. Other than that you’re going to sit back and ingest and be served throughout the entire voyage. Then when it’s over you’re going to get off the boat without much thought to the ship and the staff ever again. Maybe throw a couple dollars in tips to the crew and feel good about yourself. Maybe next time you’ll take the same ship again, or maybe a newer, bigger, better, more exciting ship has come along and you’ll jump onboard that one and have a good time in padded, comfortable luxury. If there’s a war going on, do you really want to be in a war zone on a cruise ship? Contrast that to the battleship. It’s all gray, and maybe has a TV and a weight room if you’re lucky. In WWII, the last major use of battleships, those too were unheard luxuries. The food was not that great, and if you were at sea for any length of time, all fresh food was gone and you were stuck eating out of cans, literally. Your bunk gave you about 6 inches between your nose and the bunk about with a small locker for all of your belongings and a shared bathroom that you were responsible to clean yourself. Not to mention necessary painting, scrubbing and cleaning that everyone participated in all the time. You weren’t served or catered to. You didn’t have snorkeling and jet skis to look forward to in the next port. If you were lucky you got 1 can of beer and a couple hours of baseball on the beach before it was back to work loading and fitting out the ship for the next journey. When you went in to battle you were singled out by the enemy because you were on the biggest ship with the biggest guns. Constantly under threat of attack, manning the guns almost constantly, putting your life on the line. If you come on board brand new, it’s not easy, but you know you’re part of something bigger than you, with long term purpose. The old guys train and teach you to become a part of the crew and fulfill your role to its fullest. And you know the sailors on those ships fought valiantly for each other and for the bigger cause. They willingly sailed into the war zone. When you leave the cruise ship you feel no ownership, no connection. When you serve as a part of the crew of a battleship you’re a part of that crew for life! How many old veterans do you see still wearing the ball cap of the ship they served on 50 years ago? They own it, they fought with and for that ship. They’re a part of that crew for life. It’s no fleeting fling to the Bahamas…their life is wrapped up in fighting and maybe dying for that ship and the cause it represents. They willingly give up the comforts and trappings of the cushy cruise ship to fight and battle for something that literally changes the world.

That’s the kind of church and people I want to be surrounded with. I want to man the battleship…

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4 thoughts on “Manning the battleship

  1. jacob eige says:

    Well put son, well put. I am very proud of you. In fact your thoughts would work for any “church”
    Your Mom and I are concerned that with what is coming the “church” will not be ready. Keep after this thought even if it is a bit “military” Dad

  2. Casey says:

    Good word honey. Makes me think huge where I stand. And if I can actually think while feeding Reese and the boys wrestling…you know it’s good!

  3. says:

    […] Comments Casey on Manning the battleshipjacob eige on Manning the battleshipJason Yon on Time to pray, really prayShaun Turner on […]

  4. […] doing tremendous things to advance Jesus in the US, others seemingly go a little bit the way of the cruise ship (I’m trying to be diplomatic, I’m really not at all wanting to be the bitter church […]

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