I’m fairly confident that most of the people who actually read this blog already know this, but I want to emphasize this well known truth right up front: At some point, every analogy or illustration does break down, especially if it’s stretched too far in one or more of its specific components or even if it’s taken too far as a whole. The similarities I’m about to draw between a U.S. Navy aircraft and the local church will not be an exception to this truth.
–Similar to an aircraft carrier that is guided by the captain of the ship, a local church, (especially a church within the Calvary Chapel group of churches), is guided by a Senior Pastor. But neither the captain of the ship nor the Senior Pastor of a local church are ultimately in control. They are both under the authority of their commander in chief.
–Similar to an aircraft carrier which exists primarily to accomplish a mission external to itself, a local church exists to fulfill the commission given to it by its Creator. In the very first invitation He gave to His first 4 disciples, (Matt 4:19) Jesus included the reality that to “follow” Him had a purpose…to be made into a “fisher of men”. In other words, He calls us to a relationship with Himself for a purpose larger than our own interests. And before He ascended, He made clear how big the pond was that they were to now fish in, (Matt 28:18-20). He commissioned them to GO and make disciples of every ethnic group that He Himself created and placed in various locations around the globe.
–Similar to the captain of an aircraft carrier, the Senior Pastor of a local church must ensure that those he leads play their specifically designed role alongside and in unison with every other member so that those who are called to be launched to far away places can accomplish the mission they’ve been called to carry out. Although only a small percentage, (similar to an aircraft carrier) are called to go, it’s their going that gives meaning and purpose to everything done by everyone else.
–Similar to an aircraft carrier, whose success is not measured by well or how comfortable the lives of the crew are, a local church’s success is not measured by how well or how comfortable it’s members are, but by how equipped, effective, and engaged they are with other members of the crew to accomplish the mission and ensure that those that are launched to do the far away mission are equipped for success.
–Similar to an aircraft carrier, if a local church does not regularly keep the bigger mission in front of its members and launch those that are called to far away places, the members of the church will lose focus, begin thinking that the church exists primarily to meet their own needs, and then many of them will cease to serve and just become consumers of the religious “products” the church offers.
–Similar to an aircraft carrier, in addition to the ultimate mission of launching some of it’s own to far away places, the local church needs to be ready to engage the area right around where it sits. Although every member should be “fishing for men” in their day to day lives, the church as a church, should also have a contingent of it’s members engaging the local community that it exists within. And though this is crucial, even local outreach must be done with the global mission in mind that God has called every local church to be a part of.
The similarities could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Here are a few final thoughts:
1. Every Senior Pastor needs to be confident that some of those in the church he is called to pastor ARE CALLED to be launched to far away places, and intentional about discovering them and equipping them. To not discover who those people are would be like the captain of a carrier not bothering to figure out who the pilots and flight crew are. It would clearly indicate that that captain doesn’t actually know why his ship was built and the ultimate mission it is assigned to accomplish.
2. Although the analogy does break down here, how silly would it be for the captain of a carrier to actually go on missions regularly himself, but then ignore the fact that there are pilots already on board his ship that are called to and willing to die out there if necessary?
3. We’ve already been told what God’s “end game” is, (Rev 5:9 7:9). Jesus said to GO and make disciples of all nations, the Jerusalem church leaders didn’t take that seriously, so God established a local church that would take it seriously–Anitoch (Acts 11:19) and then that church launched two of its own leaders (Acts 13:1-4). It’s the local church that is the launchpad for those personally called to obey the commission to go the ends of the earth. Participating in that ultimate purpose that God has given every local puts all of the inner workings of every local church into the proper perspective.
Finally, as I had the Thursday night NFL game on in the back round last night, (while I was reading), there was a great ad for the U.S. Navy. The Navy’s slogan now is:
The U.S. Navy, a global force for good…..THEY AND THE BLUES BROTHERS HAVE STOLEN OUR LINES!
Contrary to what the Blues Brothers and the U.S. Navy say about themselves, it’s the local church that is “On a mission from God” and is the God-glorifying “Global force for man’s ultimate good!”