Cruise Ship or Battleship?

Many people are bored in church. They have a strong sense that they ought to be doing more, that they should at least be doing something!

These people believe that there is some meaningful mission they are supposed to be a part of. But they can’t quite get their mind around what that is, and so, in the meantime, they simply just sit in a local church, try to pay attention, try to feel a heartfelt worship to God, give in the offering and behave as best they can. Many believers today are “Holding The Fort” they don’t see themselves, or their church they attend, prevailing against the gates of hell. They are not engaged to do battle. They seem to be just getting by. Many can’t remember when was the last time they brought a guest with them to church. They cannot remember a single adult convert—one truly brought out of darkness into light—came to Jesus in their church. And they certainly can’t remember one whose story they were personally a part of.

Study after study shows that most Christians have never even shared their faith—most indicating that somewhere 90 percent of evangelicals have never shared their faith with anyone outside of their family. Isn’t it an oxymoron to be called an evangelical, yet never evangelize the lost?

Many believers see the modern day church as a cruise ship, offering luxuries for the whole family—sports, recreational activities, entertainment, and even childcare on board.

For those that may have never boarded a cruise ship, please let me expound. Luxury cruise liners are large and beautiful. People that pay to cruise desire the largest and most modern ship at sea. When it comes to cruising with Carnival, Norwegian, and Princess Cruises Lines, bigger is always is always seen as better. Cruise ships are tailored to human indulgence; they are designed to entertain. They offer the best food and nearly every kind of creature comfort possible. Cruise ships are largely self-contained and are inwardly focused. You can get everything you want without ever leaving the boat. They navigate the broad waters and while doing so, will happily deliver peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to your cabin 24 hours a day! A passenger on a cruise never really has the need to get off the ship if they don’t want to, and even if they do, they get to return to the safety and comfort of the ship at the end of the day.

There is no urgency on a cruise ship. In fact, most passengers of cruises want the trip to allow them to lay back, relax, get a suntan, and simply slow down. On cruise ships, the paying passenger is at the center of the experience. It’s all about the passengers; their happiness is all that matters. For a cruise ship to be successful, it must simply pamper and meet the needs of its passengers.

Christian believers that have a cruise ship mentality show up to church on Sunday Morning asking only, “Does this church cater to the cruisers that are on board? Does this ministry place emphasis not to rub any passengers the wrong way? Does the pastor preach short and is full of humor? Am I going to be impressed with the ship’s music?” Many it would seem to want the Church just to be a friendly place where people can gather. Sad to say many today are self-centered and arrive on Sunday Mornings with a “Merchant Mentality” of what is in it for me today? These cruisers desire to constantly be pampered. If their church ever ceases to cater to their preferences … well, there are plenty of other cruise ships out there that they can board.

I would like to suggest that the true church of Jesus Christ is like a battleship. A battleship engages in battle. Is the church not on an assignment?. The true church is made for a mission, and its success should be seen in how loudly and dramatically it fights on it’s assignment. This is certainly better than a “cruise liner”; however, it implies that it is the church institution that does most of the fighting.

Ephesians 6:12-13   We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Churches that want to “prevail against the gates of hell” must learn to see themselves as battleships and certainly not like cruise liners. Members need to learn to share the gospel, equipped and on assignment with the pastor, reaching those souls in need of rescue in the community, and even plant churches—in strategic places where there are none. Churches must become discipleship factories, “commissioning” soldiers of Christ to take the battle to the enemy. Those on a battleship declare, “We’re at war,” whereas those on the cruise ship say, “We’re on vacation.” Passengers on the battleship think, “It’s all about God,” while their counterparts on the cruise ship think, “It’s all about me.” That battleship mentality is, “I am the crew,” while the cruise ship mindset thinks, “I must be served by the crew.” Those on the battleship view God as the Faithful General, while those on the cruise ship see Him as their Entertainment Director.  Christians who live with a battleship mentality are committed to winning their generation for Christ.

Battleships are designed and equipped for a purpose. They are more outwardly focused; concerned more about those that need rescuing on the outside, instead of the comfort and accommodations of the passengers on the inside.  Battleships don’t have 5 Star Restaurants or movie theaters, or massage parlors. They are designed specifically to serve those who aren’t on the ship.

Battleships don’t simply cruise alongside the world around them, they actively engage those that are in need.

There are no passengers on battleships, only staff. Everyone has a job to do and a role to play. There is a sense of urgency, purpose, and mission. On battleships, the mission is more important than comfort, and the needs of those of the boat are more critical than the desires of those who are on it. For a battleship to be successful, it must be able to engage the world tactically and effectively. The battleship mentality deeply respects the Admiral’s authority and his vision for the expansion of the Kingdom, deliverance for the captives, and salvation for the lost.

Everything should be done with others from the outside needing rescue in mind. 

You now need to answer the question on a personal level. Are you on a cruise ship or a battleship? The answer lies in your view of God and how effective you are in the use of the mighty weapons of prayer.

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