In about 1994 the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier docked in Hobart where I was pastoring at the time. Although I loathe war, I have always been interested in the technology in naval ships and aircraft. I was one of the privileged ticketed people to get a tour of this nearly 333-metre monster of the sea. It was not just the size of this warship that impressed but the fact it housed a little more than 6000 people to operate this little town on the seas.
As we walked the deck and galley ways, the guide shared the various teams of people who lived and worked on board. There were sailors, chefs, hospitality, medical personnel, communications–surveillance, IT support, captain and officers, aircraft weaponry, ship protection, aircraft engineer, nuclear engineers, pilots and crew, ground staff, HR, counselling, entertainment, chaplaincy, maintenance, cleaners and many more. It reminded me that it takes a lot of individuals with special skills to operate the USS Carl Vinson.
The apostle Paul’s illustrations were often from the military, athletics and the human body. Seeing the church as a body, the apostle says that those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour are a part of this body. Each one is given special spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit to enable the church to fulfil its spiritual purpose. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul says that God has arranged each person in the body as He sees fit. You and I have a special role to fill so the church can prosper. As the body needs hands, ears, feet and eyes, the body needs pastors, teachers, support people and prayer warriors. If we don’t have a hand or ears the body does not function as well as it should. If we don’t have worship leaders and evangelists, it is not operating at full efficiency. Just like the USS Carl Vinson needs many leaders in different roles, so it is in the church.
In the church we must work together for the gospel to go to the world, and disciple-makers to be made for the glory of Jesus. Although we all have different roles, we can all work together towards the same goal.