Thursday, May 29, 2008

Church Expectations

In the first post in this category, "The Church", I postulated that there are three different ship allegories for how we view the church. The first is where members are all on individual boats sailing the same direction. The second is a cruise ship where the Captain and the officers/staff do all the work while the rest are along for the ride and for their enjoyment. The third, and most biblically accurate, is a ship like a clipper, where individuals in the church are on the same ship, each functioning with their specific giftings, responsibilities, and tasks so that Jesus' ship can be directed to His desired port of call.

With this in mind, what are appropriate expectations people should have for church? People have left churches because of music, because of hurts and difficulties in relationships, because the church fell short in keeping someone's child on the right track, because the children and youth programming weren't to a parent's liking, because a pastor didn't visit them when they were sick, etc. These motivations for leaving a church point to expectations people often have but are maybe unspoken.

But are these expectations realistic and right? If not, what expectations are correct in the church context?

Appropriate Expectations
To stay consistent with our ship analogy, when a sailor signed on for duty on a ship, there were certain expectations he would have: food, a place to sleep, and payment. Of course there was also the real possibility that he could die at sea. In actuality, the sailor would NOT expect there to be any real level of comfort.

And there would be expectations on him by the Captain. He would be expected to work. He would be expected to help the other sailors with their work as the need might arise. He would be assigned a "watch", and he would be on call rain or shine if there was any emergency. He would be expected to obey all the Captain's orders, even if there wasn't any explanation given.

Jesus is the Captain
If Jesus is the "head" of His body, then the individual members of the body must comply with what "orders" are received from Him. If He is the Christ and the Son of the Living God, then those who follow Him must obey Him as their authority. If He is the Captain of His ship, then we do not come to His ship with expectations of comfort and ease, but rather of basic necessities.

And the real and right expectations come from Jesus to us, rather than from us to the church. Are we in a place where we have yielded to the Captain's right of command for our lives within the church context?


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