Part of the crew, part of the ship (or often quoted part of the ship, part of the crew) is the phrase that is chanted by the crew of the Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. In the third installment of the five-film series, Bootstrap Bill Turner, father of Will Turner and a slave aboard the Dutchman, begins to lose himself to the curse of the ship. He chants “part of the crew, part of the ship” before stabbing an officer. Later, when Davy Jones’s heart is stabbed by Will and the position of captain is transferred to him, the whole crew chants “part of the crew, part of the ship.” To be a part of the crew, not just simply aboard the vessel, is to be a part of the ship itself. Each crew member goes wherever the ship goes and does his part to ensure the ship functions properly. Everyone pulls their weight for the purposes of the ship’s captain.
This phrase jumped into my mind as I was thinking about being a part of the local church. There exists many who are “aboard the ship” and maybe even claim to be “part of the ship” but are not actively “part of the crew.” I would argue that to not be active in the church through regular attendance, giving of tithes, and serving on one or more teams means you are not really “part of the ship” but instead a weight that “part of the crew” carries as the ship seeks to accomplish the mission of the captain.
Putting it plainly, to truly belong to a local church means to give and to serve alongside fellow church members, not allowing a handful of people to carry the load of the rest. “If you are a member, you must be a functioning member. It’s just that simple.” -Thom Rainer, I Am a Church Member
Duties of a Crew Member
Loving Jesus means loving His bride, the Church. Loving the Church means serving her through tithing, attending services, and leading on teams.
“Do you know how to remain a biblical member of a church? Give abundantly and serve without hesitation.” -Rainer
When you tithe to the church (specifically Stone Ridge Baptist Church), the money is put into the general fund for the church budget. This budget pays the salaries of the staff, the electric and water bills, and the routine maintenance bills. It also funds our various ministries such as Ridge Kids, Stone Ridge Students, Women’s Ministry, Discipleship, etc. If you give an offering with a designation, that money must go to the fund to which you designated it and not to the general fund. It is great to give to Missions, VBS, Kids or Student camps, or individual ministries, but this should be an addition to your tithes.
As believers, we should give regularly and with joyful hearts. We should never make excuses or rob God by not giving, but instead steward our money (which is really God’s anyway) in such a way as to give support to the church and to the various ministries God puts on our hearts.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15 NIrV
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia. They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely. I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way…
Titus had already started collecting money from you. You do well in sharing your faith and in knowledge and in loving…So make sure that you also do well in the grace of giving to others.
I am not commanding you to do it. But I want to find out if you really love God… (those who truly love God will show it in how they give)
One of the greatest ways to support a minister or a ministry and to grow in your relationships with fellow church-goers is to show up for services, Bible studies, and special events. “I don’t have any friends there” is really saying “the people there aren’t good enough for me to get to know.” The only reason to not go to a service or study would be that the Bible is not being preached or taught on a regular basis. Well… or if you have the flu. Don’t bring that demon bug into your community.
If you have truly given a valid effort to building relationships and to plugging-in but the church is not really welcoming you, then it might be time to search for a more inviting church family. This decision should not be based solely on your children’s friends or preferences. If you are a member of a church, then your whole family should commit to the church and plug-in to kids, students, and adults ministries. Allowing your children to go somewhere else communicates that church is an a la carte experience where you pick and choose what is right for you and what you enjoy the best. That is not a community mindset, and it perpetuates entitlement mentality.
The church is not about you. It exists for Jesus. We must tell ourselves this when church folk let us down or when our children don’t want to go or when we’re tempted to complain about the music, preaching, or ministries. Nothing is perfect, including the church, so there will be times when you have a legitimate concern. Instead of leaving, talk to a leader and/or staff member.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Serving on Teams
“One of the ongoing questions you should ask yourself and God in prayer is: ‘How can I best serve my church?’ You should never ask yourself if you should be serving your church.” -Rainer
The functions of the church are carried out by teams. Because there are many functions, there are many teams. There’s a team for baptisms, social gatherings, building maintenance, personnel, finances, media/tech, greeting, security, and beatification. There are teams for various ministries such as Missions, Children’s, Students, Women, Discipleship, and Benevolence. There’s also a team, the Ministry Assessment Team, that helps fill the positions on the other teams. My point in listing them…the church functions best when people commit to one or more teams and do their jobs.
The church staff can’t and shouldn’t do all or even most of the work in the church. We (staff ministers) research, study, organize, and plan to accomplish our church’s mission and vision, but it is the members who come together, working alongside each other and the staff minister, who do the work.
Many Crew Members, One Ship
Paul likens the many people and various functions of the church to a human body:
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
For just as the body is one and has many members,… so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body…If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?…The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,”…On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(verses 8-10 list several jobs/gifts in the church and emphasize they are all equally important and equally from God)
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.
At the time Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, they were arguing about the different spiritual gifts, saying that some were more important than others. In chapter 12, Paul tells them that all gifts are of equal importance because they are all given and empowered by God. Not everyone can teach, but some can. Not everyone is needed to fill the baptistry, but some are. Not everyone can run sound on Sunday mornings, but some can. We need each other.
The individual members of a community of believers coming together to do the work of the Lord is an incredible thing. We are different. We are gifted in different ways. But when we commit ourselves to serving Christ’s church, we are one. It takes all of us. If you’re on board, are you a weight or are you part of the crew?
Other Passages to Consider:
Romans 12:9-21 Marks of the True Christian
1 Corinthians 13 The Way of Love
This is popularly read at weddings or on Valentine’s Day but it’s really about how believers should love one another.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 The Cheerful Giver
Ephesians 4 Unity in the Body of Christ
vv11-12 God gave the teachers, pastors, shepherds of the Word of God to the church to equip the church members (all Christians) for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.