Originally Posted Thursday, August 4, 2022
Popeye said "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em", and so I will.
I'm giving up disciple making, hospital and shut-in calling, crisis counseling, fasting, preaching, extraordinary prayer, mentoring and spending lots of time with people. I'm also backing off study time, reflection, journaling and anything else I incorrectly imagined was part of pastoring.
I'm a church consultant now.
I'll be advising leaders to backlight the stage, using plenty of muted blues while darkening the room so everyone is blind as a bat, terrified that any shifting could put them on the floor and knock out a row of chairs. I'll be careful to point out the value of selecting an indeterminate, geometric design for the backdrop that has only the meaning you give it. I'll advise they get a band and install suspended speakers cranked loud enough that nobody can hear themselves singing except the musicians with those little thingies in their ears. I'll sell them on the idea that vocalists should know how to moan convincingly and stop at just the right time to deliver extemporaneous remarks carefully worked out in the previous week's nightly two-hour rehearsals. It ain't worship until it's perfect.
I wouldn't be worth my chips if I turned an up-and-coming church loose in the highly competitive, barracuda infested marketplace that is contemporary worship without advising pastors to invest in heavily wrinkled, high dollar catalogue clothes appropriate for a camping weekend. Rips that give the appearance of a wolverine attack are a plus. Be original, man!
Strike out on your own is what I always say so I'll do them a favor by selling them pre-made, sure-fire sermon package subscriptions (always in a series and always automatically renewing for the customer's convenience). Included is a slightly inspired, word-for-word manuscript written by some of the most anointed seminary drop-out turned advertising wizards anywhere. It's all ready to be loaded onto video monitors seen only by the pastor so he/she never misses a word. They will even be coached about where to pause and gesture for effect and the best times to pace the stage with head lowered and how fast. It'll look so easy that anybody could do it! Song lyrics, take home coloring pages and snazzy graphics are included. It's essential in today's church to keep all eyes glued to the big screen so the folks don't miss the worship producer's cut-away twelve-foot-high close-up shot of the same people standing in front of them.
It won't be enough to tell them to serve coffee. Everybody knows you'd be stupid to have church without it. I'll show them the proven wisdom of having a coffee team. These serious folks will research the best cup sizes, sleeves, stirrers, ministry logo, team t-shirts and of course the trendiest, earth friendliest, hard to get coffee along with obligatory flavored creams and additives. Everything is ministry, you know.
From time to time I get questions about the expense of fog machines in making things especially spiritual. I do have some thoughts. But this blog is free and that sort of thing is reserved for my upper tier customers. Those select pastor/leader/visionaries who understand that in creating the compelling environment we're all chasing that money is a minor consideration. Special effects are high-level stuff among us church planting consultants.
Move over Apostolic Fathers, Azusa Street, Martin Luther, the gates of hell and good church people, pastors and martyrs of the last two thousand years. The church consultants, the cavalry you've been waiting for, have arrived and they're ready to show you how to do Jesus' job for Him and build the church on the cheap.
You just gotta create a compelling environment.