As lunch continued, I wondered “Pastor Bob, how is your church doing with all the changes? Is church attendance keeping up?”
“Well, the congregation is getting older. When someone dies, their part of the pew stays empty.”
“Are you making ends meet?”
“Better than ever!”
I was stunned. “That’s amazing! How can you be doing better with fewer people?”
“It’s a miracle! Our church was literally dying. So were all the other Protestant churches. I mean, there was a church closing every month! I thought we were going to close, too.”
“What happened?”, I asked.
“It got so bad that the highest level Presbyteries, Synods, and Councils of several Protestant Denominations hired some New York City professionals. They developed a Marketing Plan for Dying Protestant Groups and we love it!“
“Sounds like it’s working.”, I said, as I motioned the waiter to refill our wine glasses.
“Oh, it is! It is! It’s a two-pronged approach. First, we encourage oldsters to put our church in their wills. We tell everyone, not just the obviously prosperous, ‘In death, your duty is help the church that helped you get through life’.”
“They believed that?”
“Lots of ’em did! Of course, when their children and grandchildren heard about it, there was anger and actual outrage. ‘You’re stealing from us!’ That’s one reason we don’t have any more young families. The Marketing Plan designers said, ‘Don’t pay any attention to ’em. That always happens.'”
Pastor Bob continued. “Well, what do we do?” The Marketing Plan designers said: “You just tell those dying oldster that ‘Your beloved Pastor Bob and your little church cares more about your precious soul than your own children do!’ Then, they said to hit ’em with the kicker. Tell the confused oldster: ‘The most important thing you can, my dear friend, is to teach your ungrateful children the most important lesson of all, Jesus comes first!””
“Is that working?” I said astonished that anyone could be fooled.
“Like a charm! Some of the people we thought were poor had hundreds of thousands squirreled away! We get almost all of it! The Marketing Plan tells us ‘Make sure you tell your oldster to leave each kid a couple hundred bucks and your best wishes. That way, they can’t contest the will!'”
“I would never have believed that!”, I said.
“Oh, sure. They even showed us how, if someone had the beginning of dementia, to be sure their approved physicians and attorneys certified ‘So-and-so is of sound mind.’ so the will can’t be contested. For five thousand dollars, we have medical proof and legal documentation that their last will and testament is valid! I’m telling you, we have all the bases covered! People with preliminary dementia will sign anything! The money is rolling in! This Marketing Plan is a Miracle! I’ve got three million dollars in my Retirement Account and I got someone to leave me their huge house in Florida ‘because of all I did for them!'”
“Are all the Protestant churches doing this?”, I asked.
“Who wouldn’t? And, there’s more! Wait ’til you hear what else we do!”, Pastor Bob explained as we were halfway through our second glass of wine.