Francis Chan has said that the Western church today must change from the mindset of “come and listen” to one of “go and tell”. One of the turning point sermons of my life was delivered by Greg McClain. He was comparing the way we look at church as either a cruise ship or a battle carrier. Those who see it as a cruise ship expect to find comfort and entertainment; they might participate in a few programs, but for the most part they are there to be served. On the other hand, people who view church as a battle carrier realize they have a job to do as part of a larger mission. Battleship Christians are always working toward a common goal and are there to serve others.
In the Western culture, church has become quite a spectator sport. The buildings are bigger and more comfortable than any time in history. Megachurches boast an incredible wealth of talent from which they put on amazing productions. Technology allows even small churches to present a service far beyond anything our grandparents would have ever imagined. Some of this has helped draw in people who might otherwise never have attended church. Anything that brings people to Christ is a good thing. The flip side of this coin is that the extravagance can easily feed a cruise ship mentality.
Attending a weekend service should never be about simply being entertained and comfortable. It’s so easy to forget that we all have a role to play and a job to do. The purpose of the church at its founding was for the body of believers to support and encourage one another. It was about caring for the needs not only of fellow disciples but also the hurting in their communities. The only programs they had were those of outreach. They fed the hungry, cared for the widows, and sent people out to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. When they came together, they shared a meal and encouragement. They confessed their shortcomings to one another, and shared all of their possessions as if all they had belonged to everyone else.
The concept of simply gathering together to listen to one person speak and then go home would have been laughable to the early church. I can imagine them asking, “What’s the point?” We might do well to ask that same question today. If the church is not going out into the world around us and telling everyone we meet about the good news of Jesus Christ, then what is the point?
I don’t want to be a cruise ship Christian. I want to be a disciple on a battle carrier. We were not called to come and listen, but rather to go and tell (Matthew 28:19). We cannot keep silent. We must share the light and love of Jesus. There is no easy road to discipleship. It’s not about comfort and ease. Living for Jesus is hard, gritty work. When the battles rage would you rather find yourself on a cruise ship or a Destroyer? War has come, and the fight is on. This is no time to rest; we have work to do.