A Cruise Ship or a Battleship?

Which image better describes a church? Your church?  I know, I know… it’s a metaphor.  All metaphors break down at some point.  Work with me.

CRUISE SHIP: hassle-free, entertaining, self-indulgent, relatively pointless tour with no objective beyond your own pleasure. Relationships exist for mutual satisfaction… tend to be shallow.

BATTLESHIP: mission-oriented, spartan, focused, self-sacrificing journey to achieve a victory for what is good, right, and true. Relationships exist for the sake of the mission… tend to be deep, forged in the heat of battle.

Battleship_003God left us in this world to be a light to the nations. To be witnesses of a coming King, who, when he comes, takes over. We are soldiers in a battle.

  • You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3, 4, NKJV).
  • Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:11-13, NKJV).

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.

But when we love the mission, when we’ve sold out for the cause of Christ, the operative words become “Reporting for duty… what’s our objective?” Our concern is less for ourselves, and more for a lost world that so desperately needs a Savior. DEFERRING MY PREFERENCES TO WIN THE LOST.

The cool thing is that a good battleship offers:

  • An infirmary to mend the wounded
  • Shore leave for a much needed sabbath rest
  • Social activities to make the mission bearable

It’s not all battle all the time, even on a battleship. But the mission always calls the shots.

I want to pastor a church where the people say: I love this church, because we have great people on a great mission to show forth a GREAT SAVIOR’S LOVE to a world that urgently needs Him.

Instead of asking ourselves, “Do I like this?” we ask “Will this further our mission, and help people who are far from God come closer to him?” “Will this give us the room to minister to the people God wants to send us?”

Here are the mathematics of the church of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah:

Relationships – mission = cruise ship / country club / hedonism / narcissism / Jesus is my chaplain = BORING

Relationships + mission = battleship / on mission / sacrificial / oriented for others / self-giving / Jesus is my Commander = ADVENTURE

Which kind of church do you want?

Which kind of church do you pray for?

Which kind of church do you pressure your leaders to create?


5 thoughts on “A Cruise Ship or a Battleship?

  1. I like this metaphor, too. Having gone on a cruise for the first time this year, I can totally see the indulgence factor of which you speak. Gluttony, really.

    As you said, we all want to say “battleship!” with verve and inflection. I want to be on a ship with big guns, blazing away on a mission, forging new ground and claiming the victory. Who doesn’t want to star in the action film? But in thinking about it, I must remember that if my ship has big guns, the enemy also carries a worthy arsenal and WILL use it against mine. Probably alot if I am a threat. Am I willing to get shot at? Injured? Do I truly know my Captain? Do I trust Him?

    Lucky for us, we know we have a Captain who goes down with the ship in His heroic effort to save us. Still, we have to know it won’t be easy and enter the battle having prepared ourselves to face our foe who, let’s remember, is fighting with a home field advantage.

    Thanks for this, Bill. Scary faith. It’s scary.

  2. Bring on the big guns!

    Ever truly heard a battleship fire its weapons? I’ve only seen video and it’s pretty impressive. Wouldn’t it be a force to be reckoned with if our churches had such power and presence? What an adventure!!

  3. BIll, my wife and I really enjoyed your teaching on Sunday. We are so encouraged by you and want to encourage you. You are needed and have been used to bless us big-time! You have been used in a mighty way to encourage us to “press on to maturity”. Thank you. Thank you very much, sir.

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