The Life Saving Station

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 NASB)

I had some good part-time jobs through the years one of which was as a lifeguard. As a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor and pool manager, I trained and reinforced the idea of an old adage: REACH, THROW, ROW and GO to remind rescuers. One of the things I observed however was that when you’re dealing with kids, the first reaction of lifeguards is to go. This is one of the reasons why coverage is so important, why more than one lifeguard is necessary at pools and waterfront.

When there is a story or movie or show that features lifeguards, I tend to pay close attention. If you remember the first season of Baywatch, it actually featured lifeguards saving people! One of my favorite stories tells of a place…

"Many years ago, there was a small life-saving station located on the shore of a dangerous body of water. This life-saving station had no professional staff members. It was manned by volunteer help. Whenever there was a shipwreck, the news would reach the town; and the volunteers would rush to the life-saving station, and row out into the sea to rescue the shipwreck. Through the years they saved many lies. In fact, they saved so many lives that they found themselves wondering what to do with all the money that was enclosed in the letters of thanks from those who had been rescued. Finally, they decided to build an ornate life-saving clubhouse and buy bigger and better boats. Eventually, they didn't want to desecrate their beautiful clubhouse with dirty, cold, wet people. One day at one of the clubhouse meetings, a man stood up and said, "Now, I'm getting sick and tired of what I see in our life-saving station." One of the others said, "What are you tired of?" He answered, "I can remember when we really went out from the original life-saving station and actually saved lives."

So a group split off and they went down to the seashore a short distance and started another life-saving station. But in a few years, the same thing happened to them that had happened to the first group. They finally found themselves in a fancy life-saving clubhouse not saving anyone. They then split, and another station was started, and another and another. "It is said that you can drive along that stretch of seashore today, and find many life-saving clubhouses." When there is a shipwreck, however, there are no survivors. Everyone dies because nobody is saving lives anymore.”

It was a good thing to start new lifesaving stations, but it is unfortunate for it to come out of desperation. The mission of a lifeguard is to save the lives of others. So a lifesaving station which doesn’t save life is an oxymoron, it is a contradiction.

Which is precisely the point Jesus was making to the people gathered around him on the mountainside. "If I am the light of the world, shouldn't me followers also be the light?" It was Jesus’ sense of humor coming through. How can you give salt back it’s saltiness? How can you hide a city on a hill? Who lights a lamp just to cover it back up again?

Salt is a stable compound. It is either salty or it doesn’t exist as salt. In Jesus’ day, many cities were made of limestone and built on the top of hillsides for protection. When the sunlight hit them the city would, in essence, glow. And a lamp, it is meant to be seen, to give off light.

Jesus was clear that while he was in the world, he was the light. But in these words, he was looking to the future, to a time where His followers, would
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 5:13-16).

A couple of weeks ago, our family went to see the movie, “Surf’s Up,” a movie about, well, surfing. The first thing I noticed on the beach? There was only one lifeguard. Sure enough, at the end of the movie when two surfers go into the water, there is only one lifeguard and she can’t rescue both. It was Geek, the washed up former surfing champ, who braves the waves, risks his life and makes himself to be the lifesaving station.

Next year Due West is leading the way in starting a new church because we are a mission outpost, we have been a lifesaving station for many. But we have a coverage problem, there aren’t enough lifesaving stations. In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans. In 1950, 17. In 2000, 12. In 2004, 11. (The State of the Church in the U.S.)One mission outpost, one lifesaving station like Due West isn’t enough anymore, it is time for the Geek to get in the water. So here I am.

Not really. Because this isn’t about me, it is about the Church. It is about starting a new church in North Paulding, a new lifesaving station, a new city on a hill, a new light. It is about Due West fulfilling a mission to make disciples out of followers and followers out of wanderers.

Four years ago when I was just living my life as a youth pastor, God called me to start a church. I felt like Moses at times, raising all kinds of issues why it shouldn’t be me. To the issues I raised, “God, where will it be?,” “God, will there be land?,” “God, will there be a building?,” “God, will there be churches who’ll help?” Over and over, the reply came back these were not the issue. The issue is God’s relentless love for people. The issue is “God so loved the world that he send his only Son…”

There is a success rate of nearly 90% for new churches who start with the involvement and support of a mother church. I always felt more confident as a lifeguard when I had good coverage. Everyone, has a role at Due West in the start of this new church. Everyone can be a part - it is who we are.

Everyone is called to pray.
In your pews or in your chair you’ll find a bookmark. It gives you a guide to how you can pray, how your family can pray for this new United Methodist Church. At our info tables around the church you can find magnets to place on your refrigerator too.

Everyone can be a neighbor.

That doesn't sound as scary as a missionary does it? To be a neighbor you don't have to get shots, raise support, or leave the country. Everyone needs neighbors. Folks who can help when needed, lend a ladder or lend a hand or two. You don’t stop being a member of Due West. But you can lend a hand. Maybe it is for three months and you come serve as a greeter. Every other week you come and shepherd in the Children’s ministry. For six months, you come by before you come to Due West, and help us set-up the sanctuary. It maybe during the week you collect supplies for children and youth or you help with the bulletin.

God is calling some of you to more.
God is calling some of you to step out and go fully. You won’t do it alone, there are already families who’ve heard that call and stepped out. God is calling you to be a part of this mission outpost, this lifesaving station. God is calling you to help people connect, follow and become disciples of Jesus Christ.

This week I went through one of my treasure boxes full of stuff I’ve collected through the years. In there I found my “Pool Guy” bracelet from summer camp one year. It was given to me after I had rescued a little girl during her swim test. There was a lot of coverage and I could stand in the water she was struggling in. I started wearing it again as a reminder, I’m still called to be a “Pool Guy.” Everyone here is called to be a “Pool Guy” and “Pool Girl.”

This new life saving station, this mission outpost needs coverage as it goes into the waters. This mission outpost needs you, because there are disconnected, wandering, drowning, children, teenagers, adults and families who need a mission outpost, a life saving station, a city on a hill.

May I Ask: When was the last time you were on a mission?

May I Suggest: Find one close by and get involved. If you're out my way, we've got room!


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