I recently came up with a brilliant idea to bolster the morale of my fellow ministers. And maybe make some cash on the side to buy our church a much needed organ. ‘Ave Maria’, 'Rock of Ages',
'Crocodile Rock' or any other hymn you like just doesn’t sound right on Archie's out of tune banjo.
My idea is called ‘Preacher Cards’. Sold in packs of five. No gum. Just floss. Each card offers stats and color photos of pastors in our denomination. Each one In a ministry pose unique to them. Example: Fred leans over a pulpit with Bible in hand like Billy Sunday. His other hand bringing in the sheaves. His face red from high blood pressure. We’ll nickname him: ‘Firehouse Fred’.
On the back is a stat sheet providing relevant stats most ministers (or their people) care about.
Career Statistics to be included:
Number of attending members.
Number of non attending members.
Number of attending nonmembers.
Number of non-attending nonmembers.
Number of people who walk or jog by.
Number of sermons I preached.
Number of sermons I remember.
Number of sermons the people remember.
Number of jokes they remember. Number worth remembering.
Number of sermons I prepared but didn’t preach.
Number of sermons I preached but didn’t prepare.
Number of sermons I prepared Saturday night. (Please add to previous stat)
Number of ushers who wear a suit.
Number of ushers who have a suit.
Number of ushers who care.
Number of ushers who have a suit, wear a suit and care. But can’t count.
Number of building projects I started.
Number of building projects I finished.
Number of building projects that finished me.
Number of new churches I pioneered.
Number of new churches I wished I would have pioneered.
Number of pioneers still alive today and on my elder board.
Number of people who need counseling but don’t come in.
Number of people who don’t need counseling and do come in.
Number of people who don’t need anything and do come in.
Number of people who don’t need anything and don’t come in.
Number of times I don’t come in.
Number of times I do come in but don’t need anything.
I planned to include a ‘when and where’ part. Name of church with years served. Until I saw mine. My career has more info than one card can hold. And more ups and downs than one life can hold.
1983 Peacock Community Church
1984 Peach Pit Community Church (My Mother in law may have been involved in this)
1985 Peacock Community Church (My mother may have been involved in this.)
1986 Peach Pit Community Church (You don't want to know. But Mom will tell you if you ask.)
1987 (Jan) Peach Valley Cockpit Community Church (We merged.)
1987 (Feb) Cockpit Chapel (Notice absence of 'Community'. Merger didn’t work.)
1987 (April) A jail in Tahiti (Don’t ask!)
1987 (June) Tahiti Home for Troubled Pastors ("You asked! Didn't ya! Well, somebody did!")
1987 (July) Tahiti Community Church
1987 (August) Retired
Present – Currently Resides in Tahiti
So why did I move so much? I've wondered myself. After asking former elders, an elder in my first church explained how I actually came to be their pastor. There was more to the story than I knew. The elders had gone through 7 bad pastors, so they decided to send the following chain letter to every church board within 100 miles. Which I think totals about 6. Only one responded: Peach Pit.
The letter started with ‘Looking for the perfect pastor?’. After describing the perfect pastor, it said ‘The perfect pastor is almost always in the next town over’. “So if your pastor doesn’t measure up, simply send this notice to six other churches who are tired of their pastor too. Then bundle up your pastor in a refrigerator box and send him to the first church on the list. If everyone cooperates, you should receive approximately 937 pastors over the next month. One of them should be perfect.”
"Have faith in this letter. One church broke the chain and got their old pastor back."* (i.e. Peach Pit)
(*FYI: This chain letter portion did not originate with me. I can’t take credit. Found it online while researching when Jesus is coming back. FYI: He already did. 1988. I read it in a book. Bummer!)
So I now have a basic draft of what this 'preacher card' will look like. Even if I delete the ‘when and where’ part, it’s still too much info! Tweaking needed. I can't carry a stack of laminated placemats!
A little hard to deal them out if you want to play a game with them. And yes, I do have one in mind.
So I went to a Christian Retailer to get his opinion of my Preacher Cards idea. As I waited out in the lobby, I noticed a plaque on the wall displaying the Scripture 2 Corinthians. 10:12. “Those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise.”
I thought about it. Why isn't it wise to compare myself with others? For me, it always brings out my pride. Or it stirs up jealousy and discontent. For the board, the danger in trading cards is they may want to trade you. For a younger model. Or just a model. They have no clue what they'll lose in doing so. Nor do you if you're trading churches. If you were happy with your life as it is before you compared it, it says more about comparison than about your life. The problem isn't your life. It's your view of it. It's been distorted by comparing the life you have with the one you wish you had.
I suddenly saw how Preacher Cards could be addictive. Even harmful. Because of the lie that there really is a perfect pastor out there. The troubles start once you find him. And you will. The guy that fits all your expectations and more. Suddenly, you're not trading pastor cards. But pastors. Trading the hardnosed plodder for an eager young buck with vision. Sounds great! Until you wake up to find that few leaders ever live up to our ideal of them. The old guy couldn't. The new guy won't.
I suddenly remembered that the flying squirrel who lives in our back yard is in urgent need of a hip replacement. As in today! So I left. One of those times I did come in but didn’t need anything.