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Aside the huge, ultramodern edifices, massive congregations, popularity of denominations and reputation of pastors that characterize the cynosure of modern day churches, is there an ounce of assurance for your church to be seen as a lifeboat church or a love boat church?

Such a thoughtful question as this requires an urgent response from church leaders and pastors on whom the destinies of several lives rest upon their shoulders by their calling (Acts 20:28).

Morton T. Kelsey, an Episcopal priest and religious writer, once said, “The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.” This assertion depicts the church as a lifeboat launched to rescue the helpless, depressed, hopeless, weary, and all manner of troubled souls needing resuscitation.

I couldn’t agree more with this stirring portrayal of the church as lifeboat (though some see the church as a love boat), for the Lord of the church did say “come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

History reveals that the church is depicted by the symbol of a boat, and in view of its maiden conception, a vessel of salvation (lifeboat); but to add plausibly in view of present realities, a vessel of entertainment and pleasure (love boat).

From the standpoint of the 21st century church, the concern that begs attention is whether the church is conscious, fervent and dutiful about the “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). We are, sadly, in an era where it has become difficult to place a clear distinction between worldly organizations and the church.

There is an obvious but saddening shift in priority where the focus and consistent message from the pulpit is on prosperity and not power of the Triune God; mammon and not meekness and mercy; ease of life and not eternity; happiness (secondary and transient) and not holiness of life and joy in the Holy Ghost.

These are some of the concerns where, in fact, the world is in dire need of a lifeboat church as opposed to a love boat church. What then is a lifeboat church or a love boat church?

Lifeboat Church

There are two underlining notions here: “lifeboat” and “church.” A separate and conjoined explanation of these two should assist in better understanding how the church ought to be constituted in similitude with the early church.

Lifeboat, in a simple term, means rescue boat. It is a small craft aboard a ship used for emergency escape. It is designed to save from drowning; a pleasant feature which perfectly mirrors the role of the church as a rescue entity.

The church, on the other hand, is referred to as the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 12:27); an assembly of the regenerated, born again believers of Christ and fellow citizens with the saints of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

Having ventured to demystify these two notions, a conjoined definition of a lifeboat church should elicit this: “an assembly of the regenerated and saints of God’s household designed to save men from drowning in the sea of sin.” And to this end is the earnestness of the Great Commission.

The Scripture says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We were by nature the children of wrath, living in the lusts of our flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3) and “for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6).

Hence, the appearing of the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men (Titus 2:11); leaving in the hands of men the choice to either choose life or death, in that “whosoever shall believe in Jesus Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Herein is the exhortation to the lifeboat church to, without any form of laxity, tell the lost and perishing that the wrath of God is imminent against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and that unless they repent, confess their sins, believe and accept Christ and Him crucified, they shall by no means enter into the kingdom of God.

Love Boat Church

This brings to memory the 1970’s-80’s TV show, an adaptation of Jeraldine Saunders’ non-fiction book “Love Boats.” The show was about voyages of fun, romantic and humorous adventures, people (passengers) growing in love and leaders (captain and crew) who tried to make love happen.

Crystallizing thoughts of a church from this backdrop, we have a “love boat church” where pleasure and entertainment mixed with spiritual passivity is prevalent. The God of such a church is disguised as pastors and church leaders whose glory is in their shame, and who mind earthly things (Philippians 3:19).

They are shepherds that feed themselves fat and forget the flock; they entertain and sweet talk the flock for their selfish interests, and deprive them of the Truth that sets free. “Woe be unto them… saith the Lord” (see Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 34).

“Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered”, says A.W. Tozer. Worship is not in spirit and in truth; reverence is neither ascribed to the Lord of the Church nor to the Holy Spirit; and to such a church does the Lord frown at, saying: “…because thou hast left thy first love… repent… or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place…” (Revelation 2:4-5).

Conclusion

Consequently, the church and its leaders must place premium on the souls of men and return to its rightful place as a lifeboat and not a love boat.

Pastors and church leaders, now more than ever, must take heed to their calling and to the spiritual state of the church for the Lord will require His flock at their hands (Ezekiel 34:10), and He comes quickly with His reward to give every man according as his work shall be (Revelation 22:12).

Bible verses King James Version (KJV)

Michael Olajubu, alias Jacobs Adewale is a product of grace and ambassador of Christ, journalist and poet from Nigeria. He is a certified Digital Marketer and whose ultimate goal is to win Christ and be found in Him. Michael blogs at www.truthmediaonline.blogspot.com and you can connect with him via Facebook.

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