Why the Church should Watch Battleship: A Reflection by Bill

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Okay… I am a sucker for alien movies.  I love the movies where the aliens come with awesome technology to wipe out humanity, only to be stopped by a rag-tag group of people struggling to survive.  I know it’s been done before.  I know it’s predictable.  I just…love it!

So, when I heard what the new Battleship movie was going to be about, I had to see it!  And see it we did.  With my two boys excited, my daughter afraid, and my wife unsure.

And Battleship did not disappoint.

It had everything I came for.  Alien invaders with amazing technology.  A small group of heroes to save the day.  Unspeakable odds.  The end of the world.  It even had references to the classic Battleship game on which it was loosely based.  It was awesome!

But the best part of it had to do with what it told me about the church and how we should be doing things.

You see… what finally won the day wasn’t what had always worked.  Nor was it the coolest technology.  The heroes “salvation” came in two stages.  First… the assessed the situation.  They learned they could not “see” the aliens on their radar.  That made targeting difficult.  Next… they changed the way they did things.  They brought out what could be used from the past and changed it up.  They used different tactics and a new angle.

The aliens didn’t stand a chance!

We in the church are faced with a similar situation.  Our churches are emptying.  The younger people who we assumed would fill those pews simply aren’t there.  As they old faithful ones get older, they also grow less active.  Less able to do what they use to do.

That’s the assessment of the situation.  Things aren’t working the way they did.

And our churches are suffering for it.  Some have already gone into survival mode.  Clinging onto their life rafts, they don’t stand a chance against the enemy of time.  Soon the waves will overtake them and they will be no more.  Others have just kept shooting their old guns in the old familiar way, again and again, just like they did before thinking that maybe this year things will change.  Maybe this year our old Sunday school will be filled.  Maybe this year they’ll just magically show up.  Maybe this year.

What we need is a change of tactics.  We need some brave people who are willing to turn their ship around. Some who will think “outside the box”, so to speak, to engage a younger generation.  We need people who will put their time into mobilizing the old guard, as the hero did in Battleship.  Who can meld both the old talents we mustn’t lose with a new direction toward the young.  We need a change of tactics…just like Battleship!

Maybe if we were faced with an enemy as relentless and alien as the ones in Battleship, we would change.  Maybe if our lives were on the line, then we’d change.  Or maybe not.  One way or another, at least we’re not alone.  For even, if our individual church-ships fall under the waves of time, God who began this good work in us will see it to completion.  He is faithful.  He will do it!  Our church might not look like anything we’d even dream of…but it will still be God’s church nevertheless.

So…what do you think?  Will we, or can we, change our tactics as they did in Battleship?  What will turn this ship around?

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