Author and Christ Covenant Church Senior Pastor Kevin DeYoung has stressed the need for churches to have mission statements more comparable to the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Speaking at The Gospel Coalition's West Coast Conference Tuesday night, DeYoung centered his speech on 2nd Timothy 2:1–13.
In the biblical passage, the Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to that of being a good soldier, a good athlete, and a hardworking farmer.
DeYoung recalled seeing a church website's welcome statement, critically listing the items they put forth for potential visitors for worship.
These things included "a casual atmosphere," "friendly people who will help you find your way around," "today's music," "a Starbucks-esque café where you can relax," "a Wi-Fi zone to soothe your inner geek," and, lastly, "you will find that you matter to God."
As a contrast, DeYoung then read off the SEAL Code, which included "Loyalty to country, team and teammate," "Serve with honor and integrity on and off the battlefield," "Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit," "take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates," "excel as warriors through discipline and innovation," "train for war, fight to win, defeat our nation's enemies," and, lastly, "earn your trident every day."
"To be fair, we can find scriptural support for emphases in both of those descriptions," said DeYoung. "But with the exception of perhaps the notion of 'earning your trident every day,' I submit to you that the SEAL Code has a whole lot more by way of biblical language and imagery than does this very hip church website, which says 'come, everything will be comfortable.'"
DeYoung also noted that there is a good deal of "hard work" that comes with the Christian life, pointing out that during His ministry, Jesus Christ was "constantly trying to get rid of people."
"He's got a crowd. He's got thousands of people. They want to make Him king and He goes, 'I'm not the one you want,'" continued DeYoung.
"'I'm not that sort of king.' 'Let the dead bury their dead.' 'You can't follow me, unless you hate your mother and father.'"
While DeYoung said he did not recall the name of the church, it's identical to the welcoming statement at Granger Community Church of Granger, Indiana, a United Methodist Church congregation.
DeYoung's remarks were part of the opening day for The Gospel Coalition's West Coast Conference, held at EvFree Fullerton, about 25 miles outside Los Angeles.
The theme was "Enduring Faithfulness," which was centered on the issues addressed in the New Testament book of 2nd Timothy.
Ray Ortlund, senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and president of Renewal Ministries, also spoke on Tuesday, giving a speech centered on 2nd Timothy 1:3–8.
During his remarks, Ortlund stressed the importance of modern day believers, arguing that their influence on other Christians will continue well after they have passed away, saying "dead fathers in the Lord still live in the courage of their spiritual sons."
"Stop thinking of your life in such a small category. You matter more than you know it. You're going to matter to people who aren't even born yet," continued Ortlund. "Your faithfulness will still be making an impact long after your expiration date."
In addition to DeYoung and Ortlund, other scheduled speakers include Bobby Scott, a pastor at Community of Faith Bible Church and podcaster; Ligon Duncan, chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary and president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals; and Kim Bogardus, a California-based church planter, among others.