The Church: A Ship In The Sea Of Life

Greek Orthodox Priest Aris Metrakos, formerly a ship’s captain, maintains that eighty-five percent of all churches can be compared to luxury cruise liners when they should be more like battleships:


Cruise ships and battleships. What could be simpler and clearer? Think about what happens on a cruise ship. We don’t do any work. Someone takes care of every need. Every event (except for lifeboat training) is optional. We have no responsibilities and no accountability. Isn’t this the way most people approach Church? Developing and executing services and programs is someone else’s job. We go to services once or twice a year and still call ourselves “members”. All work falls under the job description of the paid staff or core volunteers, so we have no responsibilities.

Then there is the battleship. The warship has a life-or-death mission. Every member of the crew has a job that must be done to the best of his ability. Everyone must work together because they depend on one another for the success of the mission and mutual survival.


A healthy parish must see itself as a battleship. The mission of the Church is life and death. We are called to bring the Gospel to the world and to provide for those in need. No other vocation is as critical or crucial. Each member of the “crew” has a divine calling to define and fill his niche in the life of the parish. And when members do not work together, they jeopardize both the work of the Church and their salvation.

Anyone who has spent time aboard a cruise ship and a warship knows that the ways of life onboard the two respective vessels are polar opposites. Cruise ship passengers are relaxed, tanned, and well-fed. Battleship sailors are sleep-deprived, present a neglected appearance, and are edgy. No one in his right mind would vacation on a battleship.

Priest Aris Metrakos
From Parish Life, July 2021
St. John the Baptist Church, Washington, DC


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