Several years ago, Teresa and I visited the coast of Oregon. On one of the days, we stumbled upon a training base for the Coast Guard, and I found myself feeling like a ten-year old again. For a long time, I watched helicopters hover over the ocean while rescuers were going up and down on the ropes like they were ladders. I was amazed.
The Coast Guard exists to make rescues and they are good at it.
Even more years ago, Teresa and I went on a Caribbean Cruise with a group of friends from our church. It is the only time we have ever taken a cruise and it took a few days for us to get in the flow of how it worked. But one thing was obvious from the very start – there were people on the ship whose only responsibility was to make sure we were having a good time and had everything we needed. It seemed like every 15 feet or so we would encounter a crew member asking if we needed anything.
The Cruise Ship exists to entertain it’s guests and they are good at it.
With the cruise ship, customer satisfaction is paramount. The Coast Guard is focused saving people. It would be hard to find someone that had been rescued who didn’t consider themselves to be a “satisfied customer.”
When I think about these two different types of vessels, I wonder, are our churches more like cruise ships or the Coast Guard? Are our programs more about the comfort and interest of the clients, or about the folks who are desperate in need of rescue?
The Cruise Ship church supports missions and may even have a few passengers disembark for mission excursions from time to time while the Coast Guard church is on mission, right where they are, to the people who are within their reach.
The Cruise Ship Church location is a just a dock for the cruise while the Coast Guard church is training, equipping, and sending out rescuers where they are.
I suppose churches that are one or the other may not be healthy – a church with both would be great. But if you could only be one of those, which one would you choose?
More importantly still, is your church a Cruise Ship or part of the Coast Guard?