I’ve served in three types of churches over the last forty years of ministry. Each can be described metaphorically by the different kind of ships on the sea. One church would be characterized by a cruise-liner, where the goal is to keep the passengers happy at all costs. Provide plenty of coffee and food and entertainment and networking for business contacts and childcare and programs to enhance friendships and everyone is happy. Another church operated more like a battleship. This church is on mission and there is always a battle to fight, all hands on deck as one mission after another is launched.
There are benefits to the first two and God uses them to minister to people, yet I would like to suggest that the church should be more like an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier certainly engages the battle, but primarily it is a home base of operation where planes are equipped and empowered to go out and fight the battles in multiple locations. When the church is serious about obeying Jesus command to build His church until He comes, a cruise-liner church will never get the job done. A battleship also has limited impact because it is limited to one location at a time. A church that operates like an aircraft carrier equips the members to go out to the highways and the bi-ways, equipped to share the gospel in shops and offices, neighborhoods and youth soccer events.
Churches that are effective, understand that members are the most strategic tool in starting ministries and Bible studies, multi-sites and churches. The pastors are important and their role is to equip the “saints to do the work” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Churches on mission operate best as aircraft carriers who are discipleship machines, preparing people to be equipped to take the battle to the enemy, infiltrating the enemy strongholds, believing that “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
I never get tired of hearing equipped believers say, “God used me” to make a difference in someone’s life. Mobilizing individuals to live out a God given calling under the banner of God’s universal calling to make disciples of all nations, is something that will engage me for the rest of my life and ministry.
If we believe, as William Temple stated, “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members,” then all of humanity benefits from the leaders created and formed in the Church. No organization carries such a holy mandate, thus the leaders developed in the Church and by the Church are leaders who are developed for the world. They are developed “in the center” and sent out to the world. The world is impacted and improved by the leaders the Church develops and deploys.
Geiger, Eric; Peck, Kevin (2016-09-01). Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development (Kindle Locations 233-237). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
How about you? What do you think? Do you have a better metaphor?