I recently listened to a sermon by Richard Coekin of the Co-Mission church planting network in London. As he began his sermon, he shared a concern that there are a number of striking parallels between the state of the church in London today and the sinking of the Titanic back in 1912. We might take his observations as a warning for the Christian landscape of the Sunshine Coast too.
‘And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
Two-thirds of the 2,250 passengers on the Titanic perished. It’s widely believed that four factors severely increased the number of lives lost in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters of the modern era. Coekin suggests that each of these may be paralleled at the point of connection between our churches and in the world around us.
- There were not enough lifeboats for the people on the ship. Similarly there are not enough gospel-teaching churches for the number of people around us who need Christ.
- The lifeboat crews were not well trained. Similarly, there is a desperate need for training gospel workers to go out into the harvest fields of people who need Christ. (Matthew 9:37)
- The poorer passengers were mostly trapped below decks. Similarly, the church can run the risk of only looking out for those who are affluent, or socially respectable, or ‘like us’, rather than those who oppressed and downtrodden and desperately need Jesus (Luke 4:18-19).
- Half-empty lifeboats wouldn’t go back for survivors for fear of being swamped by them, and so they waited until the screaming stopped before going back to collect the bodies. Similarly, the church may wait until it is too late, not seeking to rescue from sin and death those who need Jesus, for fear of being uncomfortable.
It’s not hard to apply these observations to the Sunshine Coast. Jesus never promised an easy ride. This world is a sinking ship, and only those who trust in Jesus will be saved. And he has called us to be his witnesses in the world.
Live it: Ask God to give you a greater sense of the urgent need for the gospel in our local community, and that that urgency would translate into action personally and as a church family.
– Clint Lombard