Suppose you buy a boat. You tow it to your house and park it in your driveway. There is sits day after day. It is on its trailer. Gassed up, ready to go.
Week after week it sits.
From time to time you get up in the boat, sit in in and enjoy the view.
But the boat isn’t where it is intended to be! It isn’t on the water. It isn’t being used for what it was created for. It isn’t going anywhere and it certainly isn’t bringing anyone the joy it brings when it is on the water.
Then there are boats that made it out of the driveway. They live in the marina. They are constantly floating up and down with every ripple and wave. Still, they are tied to the pier and only get used when someone decides to take them for a spin. Each wave, each up and down is a tiny reminder of the life it could be living on the open ocean.
Churches and Christians can be like either of these boats.
Some Christians are like the boat in the driveway. It looks nice but it isn’t going anywhere. It isn’t being used for what it was made for. If you take it out on the water there is so much enjoyment in using it for its intended purpose! Instead they are miserable. Aimless. Listless. Even depressed.
The Christian or church in the marina is one step better but still not all that it should be. On the water, in the water…but not up still just treading water. It is tethered. It is restrained by its connection to the dock (institutional/business model of church). Only when it is untied, key turned, and gas applied does it live in its natural habitat…out on the water.
We need to be used for God’s intended purposes. As long as we aren’t doing that we are trailered up or marina’ed up – tethered to things that hold us down, restrain us from our purposes. Boats in the driveway or the marina don’t have the same problems or arguments as those on the water.
What is our purpose?
To be a disciple who makes disciples. This is us out on the water…this is us at our best, up to full speed! Key turned. Gas flowing…engine roaring…water spraying…smile on your face!
Churches should be thriving and growing. We understand there can be broad culture shifts that make church growth near impossible. But I don’t think we are there yet in the USA. I think most of us aren’t growing because we got sidetracked by other things.
Other things got our attention. Other debates became our focus. Holding on to sacred ground became our comfy spot. We got used to our tether. We got used to our trailer. We have settled for something less than our God-given purpose. We are in atrophy mode because our discipleship muscles aren’t engaged.
What is it we have settled for?
But the most dangerous place for a boat to be stored in a mega storm is the dock. It is an illusion of safety while the barnacles build and the rust sets in.
Many of us are hurting for lack of clarity and purpose and our churches need to re-engage this conversation so that people can live on the water with joy.
What we often like to do is park the boat so that we can show others our status. It may not get used for God and others, but it is being used as a statement. We can admire it and we want others to admire it, but only those who we allow through the gates. It is easier to preach and teach about love and then show it to ourselves, than to put love into action towards others who don’t deserve to see it. But the owner of the boat wants to see us use it, not to show it off, but in love towards God and others. Yes it’s a Love Boat.