In times of war, all kinds of innovations come along. World War I produced the tank; World War II produced the atomic bomb. The “space race” produced computer miniaturization and Tang.
Now a company called Natick Labs, a scientific organization that produces all sorts of high-tech goodies for the military, has developed the latest thing in battlefield spirituality: The Stealth Sanctuary, otherwise known as “Church in a Box.”
This latest weapon in the U.S. Army’s arsenal is a mobile house of worship, or “containerized chapel,” which can be dropped from a cargo plane and within six hours be transformed into a multi-faith religious center serving Christian, Jewish, and Muslim soldier/worshippers. (It takes the concept of “church planting” to a whole new dimension.)
According to a representative of the manufacturer, “Removed from its storage container and assembled, it is 20 meters long and seats 100 …. It has its own altar power supply, electronic piano, and a digital hymnal.” The chapel comes complete with kits for Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish faiths. For example, the Catholic kit includes a heavy metal cross and a chalice, while the Jewish kit provides yarmulkes and camouflage prayer shawls.
Since the manufacturer may not have had the benefit of insights from ministers who have actually led real-life churches (as opposed to the kind typically discussed in seminary classrooms), here are a few suggested additions to make the “containerized chapel” more like the churches soldiers know and love at home:
[] Group of deacons/elders to stand on the front steps and smoke between services. (This will prove particularly familiar to soldiers from rural and small town Southern churches.)
[] A 75-year-old lady (blue hair optional) to periodically remind people how church was done “in my day.”
[] A committee to conduct regular weekly meetings concerning pressing issues such as the color of the printed bulletin, the preacher’s haircut, and why the “containerized chapel” down the road always seems to be growing faster than ours.
[] Several casserole dishes
[] Someone from “denominational headquarters” who can stop by on regular occasions to explain how it’s done. (Normally should not be anyone who’s actually done it him or herself.)
[] A waterproofed, camoflauged, laminated edition of Preaching magazine.
Call your Congressman. There’s bound to be a possible government contract in that last one!

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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