Our sermons in Acts, study of 1 Corinthians on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday evening topical series have all been themed around the church this year. One of the things we have talked about a good bit is how to become more of an organic community of believers—a family—like we see portrayed in the New Testament as opposed to the top-down, institutional, producer/consumer model that characterizes so many churches. I ran across this old article this week from a publication called “Pulpit Helps.” It is obviously humorous, but it raises some serious points worth reflection in terms of how we think of those on the “producer” side of things and our conception of the church more generally. -BP
Good morning, madam, May I help you?
Yes, please, I’d like to buy a minister.
Did you have a particular model in mind?
I’ve got a description from the Candidate Committee right here. We want a man about 30, well educated, with some experience. Good preacher and teacher. Balanced personality. Serious, but with a sense of humor. Efficient, but not rigid. Good health. Able to identify with all age groups. And, if possible, sings tenor.
Yes, we do not have many tenors in our congregation.
I see, well, that’s quite a list. How much money did you want to spend?
The committee says $30,000 to $32,500 tops.
Hmm. Well, perhaps we’d better start in the bargain basement.
Tell me, how much is that model in the window?
You mean the one in the Ralph Lauren plaid suit and the gray suede dune boots? That’s our Dallas #467. Has a Ph.D. and he sells for $92,500 plus house and utilities.
Wow! That’s too rich for our blood. What about that model over there?
Ah, yes. An exceptional buy. Faith #502. He’s a little older than 30 but has excellent experience. Aggressive. Good heart. Has a backing of sermons, two of which have been printed in “Christianity Today.”
He’s not too bad. Can you do something about his bald head? Sister Fulton especially insists that our minister have some hair.
Madam, all our ministers come in a variety of styles.
I’ll keep him in mind.
Let me show you our Westminster #801. Now here’s a preacher. All his sermons are superbly researched, copious anecdotes and they always have three points. And – he comes with a full set of Calvin’s Commentaries at no extra charge. You can get the whole package at an exceptional price of $65,000.
He’s wearing awfully thick glasses.
For an extra $1,200 we can put in contact lenses.
I don’t know. He might study too much. We don’t want a man who’s in his office all the time.
Of course. How about that minister over there? Comes from a management background. Trained in business operations. Adept with committees. Gets his work done by 11:30 every morning.
His tag says he’s an IBM 486sx.
Madam, you have a discerning eye. Innovative Biblical Methods. This man will positively revitalize your church.
I’m not sure our church wants to be revitalized. Haven’t you got something less revolutionary?
I see, you want a minister who can do everything well.
That’s it! Haven’t you got somebody like that?
I’m thinking. In our back room we have a minister who was traded in last week. Excellent man, but he broke down after three years. If you don’t mind a used model we can sell him at a reduced price.
Well, we had hoped for someone brand new. We just redecorated our auditorium and we wanted a new minister to go with it.
Of course. I understand. But with a little exterior work and a fresh suit, this man will look like he just came out of the box. No one will ever know. Let me bring him out and you can look him over….