Weekly faculty meetings at Schism Seminary give our learned scholars an opportunity to share the results of their important research. Dr. Brad Blimpton recently acquainted us with his theory about attracting people from other schisms:
There are a lot of Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists. Millions of them! At any given time, most of them are unhappy about something. Some gripe about how their denomination is ‘too liberal’. Others complain because it’s ‘too conservative’.
How do we transform that discontent into action? Start with the basics. Complaining comes from vanity. Every complaint comes from someone who thinks he or she knows more than the person or group with whom they disagree. The more they complain, the smarter they think they are!
Don’t fight vanity. Use it! First, we tell ’em how smart the complainer is. No matter what someone in another denomination is complaining about, our position is “We deeply appreciate your point of view. It’s a shame that your own church doesn’t ask your opinion. Someone as smart as you are could offer real help in these trying times. If you were in our church, we’d want you to serve on our Senior Policy Committee.”
They will lap that up the way a thirsty horse drinks water. As someone said about flattery, you “lay it on with a trowel”. They won’t even notice. They’ll be too busy thinking, “Finally, someone recognizes and values my ability to understand what’s going on.”
It’s easy, then, to guide them toward whatever you call your Victory Family United Reform Old-time Evangelical Bible Church. Tell them at the proper time, flowing as naturally as water down a stream, “We really aren’t concerned about the amount of your donations. A person like you is always going to do the right thing. The important thing is that, if you were in our church, we’d like you to be in a Senior Policy Monthly Meeting with Pastor Bob to help form the direction our church should take.”
The more intelligent student recoils in horror at that! Few things are as agonizing as listening to a lot of pretentious blowhards who think they know everything go on and on for hours of endless, painful meetings. In practice, it doesn’t have to be that bad. You can cancel about half the meetings. “Pastor Bob regrets having been called out-of-country. It’s an emergency issue with a hostile government that’s threatening our Mission Outreach Program.” is a typical excuse for escaping the pain of perpetually unhappy bloviators.
You must never let them meet without someone loyal to you in firm control of the meetings. You don’t want someone there who’s looking to start his own mega-church. If he can get them complaining about you the way you got them complaining about their old church, he may get them to fund a competing church. Don’t give them that chance! Ambitious Mainline assistant ministers have split their denominations 40,000 times over the past 400 years. Hopefully, we effectively teach our Schism Seminary graduates to keep that from being done to their churches.
Some students are honest enough to admit the truth. The lust for independent, unaccountable cash flows is what starts Protestant churches. It’s always hidden behind some crack-brained theological excuses. But, if we’re going to be honest, we have to admit: there are so many independent churches now, over 40,000 of them, that we’re all starting to look, well, ridiculous.
Today, fewer people take any schisms seriously. Some wonder if the best way to escape the confusion is to become Catholic. We can’t have that!
So, pay special attention to: Invent your own schism! Part 11