It was Flight 401 bound for Miami from New York City with a load of holiday passengers. As the huge aircraft approached the Miami Airport for its landing, a light that indicates proper deployment of the landing gear failed to come on. The plane flew in a large, looping circle over the swamps of the Everglades while the cockpit crew checked out the light failure. Their question was this, had the landing gear actually not deployed or was it just the light bulb that was defective?
To begin with, the flight engineer fiddled with the bulb. He tried to remove it, but it wouldn’t budge. Another member of the crew tried to help out … and then another. By and by, if you can believe it, all eyes were on the little light bulb that refused to be dislodged from its socket. No one noticed that the plane was losing altitude. Finally, it dropped right into a swamp. Many were killed in that plane crash. While an experienced crew of high-priced and seasoned pilots messed around with a seventy-five-cent light bulb, an entire airplane and many of its passengers were lost. The crew momentarily forgot the most basic of all rules of the air—“Don’t forget to fly the airplane!”
The same thing can happen to the local church. The preacher and elders can be so busy fighting petty fires and focusing so much of their attention on insignificant issues that they lose sight of what church is all about. The church can have so many activities, programs, projects, committee meetings, banquets, and community involvements—so many wheels spinning without really accomplishing anything of eternal significance—that the congregation forgets its primary objective.
Many churches are like that impressive invention which had hundreds of wheels, coils, gears, pulleys, belts, bells and lights which all went around and around and flashed at the touch of a button. When the inventor was asked about the function of the weird machine, he replied, “What does it do? Oh, it doesn’t do anything, but doesn’t it run beautifully?”
Let’s not be like Flight 401 or the invention that doesn’t do anything! Our primary objective is to win this lost world to Jesus Christ.
From Dropping Your Guard by Charles R. Swindoll
Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.