Local church lessons from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. Part 2 of 2
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!”
Jeff — I can’t even focus to comment on the meat of what you said because of your ending. 🙂 I’ve thought about doing the Blues Brothers quote a couple of times in the midst of evangelism or explaining to somebody why we were in Africa or are now in Ireland. I just have an incurable desire to to see the reaction if I could truly say it with a completely straight face like the actors did. Now I’m imagining using the voice from the Navy ad next time I’m talking to the church about mission.
Okay… back to your regularly scheduled sound bytes.
Funny story: About 10 years ago I taught a missions seminar on Saturday and then the Sunday morning services for a CC in Florida. As I always do in my missions seminar, I used the Blues Brothers line. At the first morning service on Sunday, one of the worship team guys gave me a plastic hat, plastic sunglasses, and a cool Blues Brother tie! The tie was black, had the Belushi and Akroyd in black silhouette, and said in big black letters on a yellow back round, “On a mission from God”!
The guy played in a band that played weddings and so forth and they would do a Blues Brothers portion during their shows. Classic…..I still have that tie and have worn it at times.
Thanks Jeff. I’m in love with this example and WILL probably steal it someday 🙂
Mi slogan es su slogan.
Hi Jeff. I like the analogy of the church like a carrier ship. Just a few weeks ago, I was invited by Kairos, a missions organization that means, at the appointed time. The one day session w/ them stirred up my heart for missions. However, I could not attend their training because it was all morning, 10 days straight training w/ heavy study & workshop loads & assignments. So I sent Susan & she was glad. Missions is in her heart for quite a long time now. If ever there is someone from our church who would be sent out, it’s Susan. She’s through w/ the first phase, & the next would be how to facilitate the training. OUr church leaders & workers, & myself, will start the Kairos training in November, but only 2 hours every week. I believe that this would not only stir up the hearts of the leaders & workers about missions, but also to reach out to anyone on their way. I know that if the time to send out someone is ripe, the Lord will provide the way & the funds. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s refreshing. My role for this time is to equip God’s people for the great commission. God bless.
Thanks for the encouragement. I can definitely see God’s call on Susan to serve cross-culturally.
Kairos is a course that is a modification of a 15 week missions course taught in hundreds of churches here in America called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. I’m a Perspectives teacher, usually teaching one of the first 3 lessons that deal with the theology of missions. Kairos was developed because the approach used here in the U.S. is a very “western” approach and it needed to be modified for those who think and process differently than North Americans. It’s a great course! And if you’re ever able to attend, it’s worth it for sure.
Bless you Bong, see you soon.