All branches of the US Military are vital to any military action that the nation undertakes. All branches are filled with brave men and women who risk much to keep our nation safe. They (each branch) are designed to complement one another and accomplish the single task of victory. With apologies to the US Military, I want to use the four major branches of the military to create a metaphor for understanding different types of churches.
Types of Churches:
- Air Force Churches–these churches specialize in long range prayer-bombing raids for their participation in the Great Commission. They pray for the advance of the gospel. They pray for missionaries. They pray for people to come to faith in Christ. But the bulk of their participation in advancing the cause of Christ is from a far and (generally) safe (or safer) distance than those on the ground.
- Navy Churches–these churches seem to be satisfied with delivering men and materials to the site of impact for the gospel. They release money, missions teams, and missionaries. They often have large missions budgets, active short term missions teams and a significant number of missionaries that they support. Their advancement of the gospel in the world is closer to the action but largely in the category of “supply and help” rather than direct evangelistic engagement, that is, until the battle comes to them in their own environment (sea for the Navy, backyard for the church).
- Army Churches–these churches are content to hold territory for the King. Others have won people to Christ and now these churches nurture and care for the souls and families that God brings into their territory. They are powerful and generally effective at helping families of the faithful deepen in their walks with Christ and the knowledge of Christ and the gospel. They are most effective in reaching the family members of the church family to Christ.
- Marine Churches–these churches are interested in taking new territory for the King. All of these church types are, but Marine-like churches feel compelled to get out and take risks to defeat the enemy. They give sacrificially of all of their resources, money, people, stuff—everything they have is a resource to advance the kingdom. They are sometimes shortsighted in care and nurture, at least, it looks that way to Army churches. But they believe that they actually make better disciples by keeping the whole church on mission to advance the gospel.
- Where is your church?
- Are any of these “types” more biblical than another?
- Can a church change its type?
- Can a church be obedient to the Great Commission by being only one of these types?
- Are there seasons when a church is more one of these types than another?
- How long can you be one type and still be a healthy, disciple-making church?