14 December 2010

Battle ship vs cruise ship

I heard someone use the phrase this year about the church universal - do you treat it as a cruise ship or a battle ship? Are you a visitor who wants to be entertained and catered to? Or do you see us in a battle together and we all have a role to fulfill to survive?

After circulating in a variety of churches all over the country throughout 2010, we've made some interesting speculations. We had a sense and were told by many that the church had changed during our almost 5 year absence. That was definitely true. We also talk to pastors all over who are searching right now. It's like something is off keel but no one is quite sure what.

One observation we feel is confirmed by pastors is that the church in general has become even more of a spectator event than it was before we left. I'd always heard the statistic that it is 20 percent, or pick a number but a small one, of church goers that do the work (teach, clean, nursery etc). It seems there is much more of a sense of: what can you (the church) do for me?

In one sense, church does do something for us. Hopefully, we learn more and are fed more about God and grow closer to him. The church needs to be directing the traffic in our lives toward more of Christ and not less. But in the same measure while works do not save us or get us into heaven, I wonder if we are participants or merely spectators.

God does not require any sort of list of fulfillments to accept us or validate our Christianity. I'm thinking of this more from the angle of a community of Christ perspective. We are called to be the "body of Christ" that is what the church is. We all have different roles and abilities and we use them uniquely to help propel ourselves and others toward Christ and introduce Christ to those who don't know him. At least in theory.

So is our cultures' new slow leaning toward entertainment driven lives harming our perspective of the church? Or harming the way church functions?  If the staff members of the church, use all their energy just barely keeping the normal functionality going, when will they be able to dream to take the church deeper, or expand the church through outreach?

I don't have any answers, nor do I believe my opinions here are definitive. I know I've been guilty of being a spectator from time to time, but I want who I am and how my church is to be drawing people to Christ, not simply entertainment that releases some measure of guilt in my week.


  1. I think our responsibility in church is to grow closer to Christ and to help others grow closer to Christ, and that sometimes requires us to be the spectator (Mary vs. Martha) and sometimes requires us to work as a servant (like Christ). I don't know the proper balance, though.

    In the last five years I have probably visited fewer different churches than any other five-year span in my life, so you would definitely know better than I what trends are appearing in churches. Something that concerns me is that maybe the difference is that the people doing the work tended to be older and as they are passing on their work isn't getting done.

  2. Good point about there being Mary times. If you are correct and all the workers are getting older, we are in trouble in more ways htan one. I've heard most tithers are older people too.