I read the best column today. It’s titled Holy Ship: Four Ways the Church is like the Millennium Falcon. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the first movie came out in 1978, and just saw the latest installment, so when I saw this title I had to read it.
To condense this column down to its four points, they are:
1. It looks like it’s broken, but it’s not and it will get us where we need to be.
2. The crew is always an odd assortment of people who don’t seem to fit together, but who manage to change the world.
3. Nobody owns it – it owns us. We belong in and to it.
4. It breaks a lot, but we still know what it’s capable of doing. It did make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, after all.
I’ve been reading a lot of columns lately about how the Church is not working. It’s out of date, it’s not the part of people’s lives that it once was, people are leaving it in droves. A lot of that may be true, but not unlike our broken political system, it is us. We are the Church. It’s up to us to make of it what we can.
One of the things that I love most about my church is the people who are involved there. While it could stand to be more diverse, it’s a wonderful mix of people you wouldn’t expect to see working together. And it really can accomplish wonderful things when people all get on the same team. As an example, we’ve helped build a Habitat for Humanity house for the last several years. That’s a great example of something that doesn’t take an enormous commitment from any one person, but that makes a huge difference in people’s lives.
Who owns the Church? Sometimes people think it’s the church leaders – the pastors or the boards – but it’s not. Nobody owns it. It owns us. As the author of the column put it, “These ‘owners’ are better understood as stewards of the ship’s historic legacy. Some of them do a better job of it than others. At times, the Falcon has been employed for less than noble reasons, out of selfishness or greed. Other times, it is employed for good, in the fight against oppression and Empire. But, good or bad, it’s still the Falcon, steered by the flawed who are at times holy or heroic.”
“…steered by the flawed who are at times holy or heroic.” What a great phrase that is. And it so beautifully describes the church. While we are all flawed, we are all also capable of great goodness.
And lastly, yes, it does break, and it does fail. Because it reflects us, and we often break and fail. But we can’t let those failures stop us. If we once could make the Kessel Run that fast, we can do it again. We just have to open up the hood and make some repairs, then have faith that it – and we – can do the best of which we are capable.
I need the Church in my life. I need the communion of kindred souls, the community of faith, and the reminder that it’s not just about me. I hope that I can possibly give back to it everything it has given to me.
What hopes do you have for your church? How can you get under the hood and help make those repairs? Where do you want the Church to go, and how can you help pilot it? How can you be a good and effective steward of this ship's historic legacy?