A truly successful schism is like McDonald’s. It has lots of franchises. The old-line Protestant churches are perfect examples. They follow much the same pattern.
1. The successful schismatic marketing plan must have enough in common with The Bible that it can claim to be “Christian”. But, don’t be too Christian. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Joseph Smith, and all the other founders of successful schisms knew how important it was to go on an on about any number of ephemeral issues. They focused attention on theological and historical trivialities. Sometimes, they just made up things. Then, they could ignore important, conflicting parts of Scripture and Tradition. Always invent, magnify, and focus on largely Imaginary Problems. “We may approve of abortion, but you won’t catch us selling indulgences, not on my watch!” You will find that hardly anyone in your congregation is smart enough to realize that the wholesale, painful dismemberment and death of hundreds of millions of unborn babies is vastly worse than penitents making sincere donations to increase their chances of getting into Heaven!
2. If you want your schism to generate significant income, you need to choose the name wisely. “Presbyterian” is a perfect example. It “sounds” Christian. “Presbyter” has some vague, historical connotations that reach back to the “early church”. (Note: Don’t remind potential donors that the “early church” was Catholic. If you are starting a schism reaching out to disaffected Presbyterians, for instance, have enough sense not to mention that Presbyters in the “early church” were ordained Catholic priests.) “Methodist” is a solid, non-threatening, attractive sort of name. “Lutheran” does not have as wide an appeal. Few new schisms contain the name “Lutheran”. Too limited. And, many of the paintings we see of him show definite porcine tendencies. Not a good subconscious image in people’s minds. Your schism name should contain solid, uplifting words like “Christian”, “Baptist”, “United”, “Independent”, “Bible”, “Orthodox”, and “Reform”. Some like to include numbers to indicate many similar churches like “First”, “Second”, and “Third”. Few go beyond “Third”. Gets confusing. Do not pick a name with a limited geographic appeal, like ‘The Second Orthodox Reform Bible Church of East Liberty'”.
3. Don’t use the older, classic schism names listed above unless you are trying to build a schism based on the fact that an earlier schism has become “too liberal” or “too behind the times”. Then, string two, three, or even four or five names together. “Our new church, The First United Independent Reform Christian Bible Church of North America, addresses the real needs of real people. It’s what we need! A church that reaches out to the sincere, caring people who feel our denomination is led by people who are out of touch with Scripture and the world.” (memorize that line! It appeals to everyone!)
4. If you are starting a brand new mega-church, congratulations on combining Christianity and Capitalism! It’s the American Way! Hope you get that corporate jet to zip around to your many, many, many missions and minions! You need simple names that are properly vague. “Victory”, “Family”, “Non-Denominational”, “United”, “Reform”, “Evangelical”, “Bible”, Old-Time, and “Christian” should be considered. You may want to use one or two, or just just string them all together as you solemnly intone to potential donors: “You and I both feel, and rightly so, that we need a new church that focuses on Today’s Needs. (“Today’s Needs” is always popular with people who are so self-centered they think themselves to be more highly evolved than their predecessors. The Victory Family Non-Denominational United Reform Evangelical Christian Old-Time Bible Church is going to do just that!”) The names can be in any order, just so long as they roll off the tongue with feeling! Deep, heart-felt feeling! Feeling, as you well know, is far, far more important than rational analysis when it comes to organizations whose vanity-driven origination is blatantly obvious to anyone with a three-digit IQ.
4. As often as possible, speak to wealthy men self-important enough to see that the need to have a chapel named after them manifests a higher nature than another dozen diamond-encrusted Rolexes in their collections. Use this line on every possible occasion: “It is better to teach a man to fish than to give him free food.” You will find that, magically, people will nod wisely as if they’ve never heard it before. Memorize several such platitudes and repeat them frequently and slowly as you nod wisely, giving the impression that you are saying something intelligent and original. Try it. Speak slowly, nod wisely and say “It is better to teach a man to fish than to give him free food.” Fun, isn’t it? Say it, again! That is how you establish credibility.
Starting your own schism is easy. Invent your own schism! Part II helps show the way.