Cruise Ships

Cruise Ships

Once upon a time, I  went on a cruise. 

It was pretty amazing. We picked our rooms before we purchased our tickets but the highlight wasn’t the room…it was the expanse of ocean all around us, the incredible food, and the multiple events, programs, and things to do.

We built every single part of our trip to make it special, selected a couple of excursions, and had the best time relaxing amongst family and new friends.

When we got home, we discovered that we all gained 5-10 lbs…well, everyone except Isabela, because at 4 years old, she hated all the food on the ship!

Going on a cruise was fun…but expensive.

When I  think about the modern church building, church – seeking process, I can’t help but remember our cruise selection processes. 

  1. Right location/time, aesthetic: check.
  2. Right programs for our kids: check
  3. Right price (reward) for the product: check
  4. Good food, good entertainment: check
  5. Freebies, good reviews: check.


I  can’t help but think that God didn’t intend for us to choose our churches quite like this…devoid of prayer meetings and HS leading, yet many of us do.

However, most distressingly and even worse…our churches are being built, formed, and marketed just like a cruise ship.

  1. Right location/time, aesthetic: check
  2. Right programs for our kids: check
  3. Right price (reward) for the product: check
  4. Good food, good entertainment (“modern” worship concert vibes): check
  5. Freebies, good reviews: check.

What does this produce?

Does it produce Mary’s sitting at the feet of Jesus? Or Minister Martha’s forever laboring away to build a large cruise ship of attendees so that the enormous bills and salaries can be paid (and the church will be successful)?

What makes a church a success anyway? I think we need to redefine success in context of the church (Acts, Jesus, the widow and the orphan).

I think we have it all wrong.

You see, we say we have a church family. Yet who has a family of over 100-500 or 5000 people that they actually know very well and actually stay involved in all their lives?

No one. It’s impossible…IMMEDIATE family is the power in family. This is the smaller group of people who don’t just live together once a week, but they, just like in Acts, live life together, commune around the dinner table, play on the weekends, and of hopefully, rest on Sundays. They may fight or quarrel, but the closeness of immediate family life requires constant reconciliation, forgiveness and quality time.

Can we have a church family in our modern churches? Or are they just buildings filled with cliques?

I’m done with cliques. 

The sons and daughters rising up are sick of the show. They are sick of the building of shrines and perfect songs and manipulative ambience. They want TRUE family, where papa and mama are all in God and the sons and daughters are brothers and sisters with a heart for mothering, fathering and nurturing each other.

They want honest worship- not karaoke …love songs face to face with God and teaching around Jesus’s feet. There is a growing desire for raw intimacy (that cannot be found in formulaic structure) and this inner revival will be the tongues of fire catching the American church watchmen and bursting it into wildfires.

The deep and the more, the indigenous and the community driven – versus copycatting-is changing more lives all across the world and growing kingdom exponentially ,…except for in America, because here we commercialize and industrialize everything until discipleship is a program and not a relationship. We build celebrity, and worship talent over teaching yearning spirits how to press into worship EVERYDAY with God (not just church services), a God who is meek, humble, and chooses to speak in a whisper to us (versus displays of power and splendor). Then, we are in shock when we see that the influence of the church in the States is in decline.

It’s time for the sleeping giant to wake up! Programs and performances are not bad alone, but they are not the heartbeat of the church. Yet, the desire to look young, grow fast, and sound modern is lulling so many to sleep. And guess what? Sleepers cannot train, cannot transform, cannot be equipped, cannot even toddler walk into maturity. Yet we have thousands of sleepers planting churches and building careers at the expense of the body of Christ, the very people who they are meant to nurture. 

God help us. Building the American church is fun but it sure is expensive. 

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