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The Parable of the Lifesaving Station

When I first entered the ministry, I came across the following parable, which was re-introduced to me this past week by an elder from a church I formerly served. It spoke truth back in 1992, and it still rings a clarion call for those of us in churches across America today.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. With no thought for themselves, they went out day and night, tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now, the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a symbolic lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin while others had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, and many people are left to drown.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

What Does Success Look Like?

We shared with the congregation in early August that the elder council and E91 leadership team would be engaging in a strategic planning workshop August 21-22. We asked for the church to pray for this time together that the Lord would lead us in identifying the strategic actions E91 will take over the next three years to fulfill our vision and mission:

Our Vision: To become an equipping and mobilizing church that transforms our world for Jesus Christ.

Our Mission: Love God. Follow Jesus. Serve your world.

After praying and spending time together, we have identified three key areas to help us determine what success looks like for E91 over the next three years:

Evangelism - We pursue lost people with the love of Jesus Christ

Actions: Prayer, training, building relationship, celebrate stories of people saved

Success: Every person at E91 pursues a friendship with one lost person

Discipleship - We pursue Jesus Christ as disciples who make disciples (John 15:8).

Actions: Prayer, define disciple, create a clear pathway of discipleship, celebrate stories.

Success: Every person at E91 pursues a discipling relationship.

Leadership Development - We pursue the development of Christ like leaders in the church and in their world.

Actions: Define and clarify roles of leadership, develop training pathway and leadership culture.

Success: Every leader at E91 pursues relationship and development.

You will be hearing more over the next few months regarding these initiatives and we invite you to be praying about God’s calling on your life in these areas.

We want to extend our appreciation to Tim Kahms and his wife Liz as he finishes his term on the elder council and service as elder chair for the past two years this month. I have accepted the call of the council as the incoming elder chair. I look forward to serving our Lord and all of you in this role.

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