Lifeboat

4 messages that we must spread to save every life

The church can learn from the RNLI's mission says Director of Training Dave Newton.

 How does the RNLI challenge the church in our mission?

As I write this article the weekly news is bombarded with the latest on Covid, and the storms brewing as people start to plan and think about Christmas.

With all this dominating the news you could be forgiven for missing a report about the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The brave members of the RNLI, who provide 24-hour search and rescue off the shores of the UK and Ireland, were criticised some months ago by right-wing politicians for being used as a ‘taxi service for illegal immigrants’ as they sought to rescue at-risk migrants crossing the English Channel.

Amidst the critical voices there was a huge swell of support as public donations to the charity increased by over 270 per cent according to the BBC reports.

However, it was a comment from the RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie that caught my attention as he responded to this polarising political issue.

“Our mission is to save everyone,” he said. “Our charity exists to save lives at sea.”

His statement got me thinking; firstly, how clear the charity was in their mission and secondly, how the mission statement was a reality that was being worked out in practice.

How clear are we as the church about the mission we have been called to? And, if we know what it is, how is it impacting our day-to-day activities?

As Paul states in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

As the RNLI has reminded us, let’s not get distracted from our main task as the church. Our mission is to save everyone. We exist on this earth to save lives.   
 

1 Simple message

It is easy to overcomplicate the message of the gospel. Our debates about the finer details of the message we have received about Jesus Christ can sometimes take the shine off the good news we have been given to proclaim.

Whilst I am not suggesting that the gospel is in any way simplistic, we must ensure we keep it simple and understandable.
 

2 Alternative message

There is a danger in our desire to stay relevant and communicate the good news in a way people understand that we forget or even neglect the confrontational, counter-cultural Kingdom message we get to proclaim.

The gospel can easily be reduced to a self-help message or after-life insurance policy. The reality is that the good news is not about knowing ourselves better to enjoy life but instead surrendering our lives to the one who knows best.
 

3 Holistic message

It is tempting to focus on one aspect of the gospel at the expense of another.

We can view the good news as a personal thing that restores our relationship with God and ignore the issues of justice on our doorstep or across the globe.

Alternatively, we can be so active in our mission and miss the transformation that only comes through forgiveness and relationship with God himself.

Matt Chandler helpfully talks about the gospel in the air and on the ground, not suggesting there are two gospels but rather two vantage points for the same message.
 

4 Powerful message

I am constantly amazed in life and ministry when I get to hear stories about how this good news message of Jesus has brought total transformation into people’s lives.

I can recall numerous stories of men and women, young and old, who have not only experienced the forgiveness Jesus offers but have also overcome addictions, seen relationships restored, had their ambitions and priorities changed, seen obstacles overcome and much more.

I can certainly relate to Paul in Corinthians when he states, “The message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” 

First published in the October 2021 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.

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