What do churches have in common with cruise liners, battle ships, and aircraft carriers?
Some churches are like cruise liners. Christians come to them so that they can experience fun programming, get away from life, hear good music, and take advantage of free childcare.
Other churches are battleships. They take outreach seriously so they fire their big guns by sending heavy-hitting professionals, like pastors and missionaries, to do most of the fighting. These ships are powerful and many have made a difference in the world, but are limited in that they can only fire at a few targets at a time.
Finally, some churches are aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers are some of the most dangerous ships in the ocean. Like battleships, these ships engage in the fight, but they do so by sending lots of planes to attack several targets at once. Churches that do this effectively send everyone in their congregations to be part of Jesus’ mission.
The question remains: Why do we send/go? Said differently, why do we want our church to be an aircraft carrier?
First, Jesus and His followers modeled it. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and He sent each of His twelve disciples who planted churches and sent many others, like Paul, to every corner of the known world to carry His message to those who had not heard it. We are following in their footsteps.
Second, multiplication is greater than addition. The aircraft carrier can engage many more targets than the battleship because it sends other battle-ready vehicles to the fight. If I teach you to share the Gospel and you teach your friend to share the Gospel, we will reach many more people than if I just worked alone. God has called us to multiplication, but we often settle for addition.
Third, as Paul so simply puts it in Romans 10:13-15, people will not hear the Gospel if we do not send people to tell them. Our compassion for the lost moves us to go.
Plainfield Christian Church has a history of sending it’s own people to the mission field. I am so thankful for people like Maureen Wetzel, Ryan Sudsberry, Ryan Harty, and Amanda Ganyo that we have sent from our congregation, but we still have a lot of work to do because each and every one of our people is called to—whether it be across the street or around the world.
So, what does this mean for us? Simply put, don't miss the boat.
Are you going to the places where God has called you?
Also, is our church a cruise liner, battleship, or aircraft carrier? Are you comfortable with your answer? If not, what can you do to be a part of the mission that Jesus gave us?
For more information read “Gaining By Loosing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send” by J.D. Greear. This book was a key reference for this post.