For some reason (perhaps God knows why) I recently started receiving packets of postcard advertisements from Media Management’s Ministry: Values for Growing Churches. “Dear Pastor,” the top card began.
I read that an identical packet had been sent to two hundred fifty thousand other “pastors,” along with a card from Media Management saying, “building? teaching? preaching? counseling? We can help. Just fill-out this coupon and mail it today. We’ll send our new, jumbo package. Ministry Resources. No cost. No obligation. No one will call.” No kidding.
Did you know that enterprising pastors and priests don’t write their own sermons? They rely on Pulpit Digest, Pulpit Resource (“non-doctrinal—lets you provide your own emphasis”), Leadership, The Clergy Journal, Sermons Illustrated (“Packed with heartwarming, thought-provoking, humorous stories”), The Pastor’s Professional Research Service, Sunday Sermons, or The Preacher’s Illustration Service (“Power-packed illustrations, anecdotes, stories, humor!”).
For those who have trouble with not only sermons but the entire worship service, there’s “Worship Celebration,” “an innovative, new concept for the Worship Service. Words of some of the most widely used worship choruses appear on full color slides with picturesque photography as a backdrop. Gives the local congregation and visitors access to the words of the choruses you sing; eliminates the inconvenience and distraction of songbooks and frees the hands of the congregation so they can focus their energies on participating in the congregational worship; visually encouraging the congregation to praise the Lord; relieves the local church of obtaining copyright permissions.” Or ministers can attend a “National. Leadership Conference to Strengthen Their Church Through Creative Worship” and “Learn how to provide a worship/celebration experience that speaks to today’s Christians, and reaches those who have written off the church as boring or irrelevant.”
There’s help for church newsletters, too. Did you know that “It’s a whole lot easier to get their attention when you put funny and tasteful cartoons in your bulletins, newsletters, announcements, signs, and visuals”? Well, “Humor will do it for you or your money back.” Also, did you ever realize that “If you stopped to read this cartoon, the readers of your church newsletter will, too” (60 cartoons for $17.95)? You can “Save 1/3 and make your publications fabulous—one ministry newsletter we produce is so popular we get complaints if it is one day late in the mail. You will serve your members much better and be a lot happier when they think your stuff is great.”
I was transfixed by cards for “Relocatable Church Buildings . . . With Permanent Comfort & Quality,” fiberglass steeples and baptistries, a “Christian Resources Exhibition” in Washington, DC (“Christian heritage and local area tours—all Christian denominations [including tens and twenties] welcome”), the “ClergyCard” (If You Don’t Have This Card . . . You’re Losing Money!”), “Church Visibility Pins,” sample raffle tickets, a free booklet explaining “Why Your Church Might Be Sued,” disposable, communion cups, and church signs (“Our sign paid for itself in 3 Sundays”—talk about your miracles!). There was an invitation to “Sell part-time . . . make full-time income! Earn $25,000 a year and more in your spare time! No Investment—No Experience Required!” (Garrison Keillor calls ministers who have gone into selling “spooks,” and claims their mouths are self-winding.)
One terrifying card offered to list recent new residents to any neighborhood in the country. Think about it.
Interested in travel? Sign up four members of your congregation to go to China ($2,095 each) and you go free. Or this may interest you: “You are personally and cordially invited to become a unitholder/part owner in an exclusive non-denominational, ecumenical, religious, non-profit, tax-exempt, legal corporation.”
Churches have come into the computer age with a vengeance. Ministers and priests can now “Get Results With Proven Church Software,” keep those tithes coming in with “Computer Software Especially for Churches,” and put their faith in “The Pioneer in Church Software Since 1978.” They can “Put the Bible in [Their] Computer.” And there’s no telling where they’ll stop when they boot up to “Power Church Plus: . . . The Most Powerful Church Computer Software Ever!”
There was one card whose offer I’m finding it nearly impossible to pass up: Meditrend International’s skin patch, which enables you to “Control Your Appetite—Help Others—Make Money.” Hey, if that’s not heaven, what is?