|In the late 1940s, the United States government commissioned William Francis Gibbs to work with the United States Lines to construct an $80 million troop carrier for the Navy. The purpose was to design a ship that could speedily carry 15,000 troops during times of war. By 1952, construction on the SS UnitedStates was complete. The ship could travel at 44 knots (about 51 miles per hour), and she could steam ten thousand miles without stopping for fuel or supplies. She could outrun any other ship and travel nonstop anywhere in the world in less than ten days. The SS United States was the fastest and most reliable troop carrier in the world.|
The only catch is, she never carried troops, at least not in any official capacity. The ship was put on standby once during the Cuban missile crises in 1962, but otherwise she was never used in all her capacity by the U.S. Navy.
Instead, the SS United States became a luxury liner for presidents, heads of state, and a variety of other celebrities who traveled on her during her seventeen years of service. As a luxury liner, she couldn’t carry fifteen thousand people. Instead she could house just under two thousand passengers. Those passengers could enjoy the luxuries of 695 staterooms, four dining salons, three bars, two theatres, five acres of open deck with a heated pool, 19 elevators, and the comfort of the world’s first fully air-conditioned passenger ship. Instead of a vessel used for battle during wartime, the SS United States became a means of indulgence for wealthy patrons who desired to coast peacefully across the Atlantic.
David Platt in his bestseller RADICAL, says: “When I think about the history of the SS United States, I wonder if she has something to teach us about the history of the church. The church, like the SS United States, has been designed for battle. The purpose of the church is to mobilize a people to accomplish a mission. Yet we seem to have turned the church as a troop carrier into the church as luxury liner. We seemed to have organized ourselves, not to engage in battle for the souls of peoples around the world, but to indulge ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world.”
Platt’s indicting words make me wonder what would happen if Missouri Baptists looked squarely in the face of our state with 4.3 million going to hell? About 2.7 million in Missouri do not claim any religious affiliation (thearda.com). Less than 20 percent attend church on a regular basis. (David Olson’s data. He refers to “a regular basis” as attending once a month!) What if Missouri Baptists decided it was time to move this Gospel ship into battle instead of sitting back on the pool deck while we wait for the staff to serve us more hors d’oeuvres?
The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) has been recognized for placing the Gospel on 750,000 doors around our state this spring. However, 1.5 million residences have yet to have this opportunity. Six areas/counties of our state saw the Gospel placed on less than 20 percent of their homes. The Missouri Baptists in those areas made an attempt but were hindered by the size of the populations.
The Macedonian call is going out across Missouri, “Come over … and help us” (Acts 16:10). Would your church/association, which was able to cover most of your field this spring, be willing to go to another area of Missouri to prayer walk and distribute the Gospel door to door in 2011? I have talked to the directors of missions in these six areas about these needs, and they would welcome Missouri Baptists partnering with their churches to prayer walk and distribute the Gospel to their doors in 2011. These six areas are: St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Joplin and Cape Girardeau. Think of it as a “Judean” mission endeavor (Acts 1:8).
Pray about this as one way for your church to be on mission in 2011. Talk to your DOM. Let my office know of your availability.
Is your church more like a luxury liner or a troop-carrier?
GARY TAYLOR / Director of Evangelism