Pirate Church

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This sermon uses pirates to relate the gospel of Christ. I preached it in 2014 as part of the Imaginarium creative writing convention. Since Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) was also that weekend, we held “Church Like a Pirate Day.”


What do pirates seek? Booty.

Jesus told a parable about a man who found a treasure more valuable than everything he owned, so he sold everything he owned to make it his own.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that is hidden in a field. A crafty man found the treasure buried there and buried it again so no one would know where it was. Thrilled, he went off and sold everything he had, and then he came back and bought the field with the hidden treasure part of the bargain. Or the kingdom of heaven is like a jeweler on the lookout for the finest pearls. When he found a pearl more beautiful and valuable than any jewel he had ever seen, the jeweler sold all he had and bought that pearl, his pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:44-46)

Jesus also warned us to focus on eternal treasures, which have true everlasting value, instead of getting distracted by the temporary appeals of this life.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Like the man that sold all he had, we give our lives to Christ. The treasure we are given in return is worth far more than anything we’d given.


What do pirates thirst for? Blood.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. (Hebrews 9:14)

We owe a debt that we cannot pay.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. There can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Leviticus 17:11)

But there is one who has already paid on our behalf.

Jesus said to them, “This is my blood. The blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24)

All the people answered, “May his blood be on us, and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25)

As Christians, we thirst for the blood of righteousness, the blood of Christ. That alone can save us, and wash away our sins.


With peglegs, hooks, and eyepatches, how are pirates’ bodies? Broken.

Living in our fallen world, our bodies are broken, as is all of creation.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. (Mark 9:45)

That brokenness encourages us to seek God, who will make us whole. By using our broken vessels, His strength and glory are made known to the world.


What is on a pirate flag? Bones.

When a ship raises its flag, its allegiance is known to all.

Everyone will know that you are my disciples by you love for one another. (John 13:35)

For a tree is recognized by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33)

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

Do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:16)

Every one of us also waves a flag, identifying our loyalty. A wedding ring waves our flag of marriage. A military uniform, a sports jersey, a lapel pin, a bumper sticker, and many other items can indicate who or what we are beholden to.

As Christians, our flag is our love. It’s not a church membership, a seminary degree, or anything of that sort. Only our actions — our love for one another — waves our flag for Christ.

Shanty 23

I found this “pirate-ese” translation of Psalm 23:

The Lord be me cap’n, oi shall not mutiny.
He steers me clear o’ land lubbers, and pilots me thru the doldrums.
He trayned me up roight or else.
E’entho I stagger thru seedy ports,
Oi feares no wun, fer ye be wif me;
yer pistol an yer cutlass hinspoire me;
the grog flows freely.
Surely the Kinge’s navy and ninjas
shall foller me all the dayes ov me loife,
an’ Oi be swabbin’ the Lord’s decks forever.


  • What’s your favorite book or movie that involves pirates?
  • Would you rather go to a game with the Pittsburgh Pirates or Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
  • What do you treasure?
  • What do you thirst for?
  • What breaks you?
  • What are you known by?


You can download the PowerPoint slides here.