It's an Old Boat
I met a guy from the church for lunch today at the Santa Barbara harbor. It was a great day, so we went for a walk first. We were able to access the docks and walked among the boats nestled in their slips. The closers slips were smaller and cheaper and the more distant slips were sider, longer and much more expensive. As we walked along we noted how the boats grew. Some were clearly racers, clean hulls and minimal stuff. They were low to the water and meant to go fast. Others were bright and shiny with brass and varnished wood. They had generous decks and areas in which to sit and eat and visit. They had big areas below deck for sleeping and cooking and storage. There were some power boats among the sailboats, some for fishing and others for cruising. My friend knew a lot about the boats and their owners, having lived here for much of his life.
Then we noted some that were really banged up and patched together. Their decks were dirty and their sides were scuffed from banging into docks over too many years. Some were clearly neglected and they looked sad. They deserved better and were meant to sit nicer in the water. Others has just been sailed hard for many years. But as we walked off the dock I looked back on them and noticed that they all floated. They were all doing their job; their boat job.
That's how I feel about the church after 25 years of being a pastor. I walk among the various "harbors" and compare "boats". Some are big and sleek. Others are stripped down to go fast. Some are made for a party and others for the storms. Some are really neglected and look bad and others are banged up from a lot of wear. But they are all floating, and that's the plan. I know there is no perfect boat and no perfect church. I read this weak that it take tremendous courage to be an optimist, to strenusously believe the good. It's easy to be a bleak pessimist, entropy teaches us that. I want to believe that the church is the boat that's doing its job the best it can. My job is to help her sail and stay afloat.