Good morning, y’all. Our heart is saddened as we read about the deaths of three police officers gunned down in Baton Rouge. Again, another unstable person with a military weapon, this one with military training. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has figured out that there are thousands of human time bombs out there. Just one break up with a loved one, one layoff, one slight of any kind could set off the next shooting spree by a deranged person with access to weapons. At some point we will ask ourselves if we’re the crazy ones for allowing this situation to continue. Apparently, not today.
Speaking of being unable to break unhealthy habits brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Elders gathered in the office of the little church after prayer meeting.
“Old Rusty looks fine,” said Elder Cheatum as he looked at the massive cast iron safe in the corner. “Anybody notice anything missing after our invasion of the “Love Fellowship”.
“No, not a thing”, replied Mulva Lite. “They all seemed real nice.”
“Well good,” replied Elder Cheatum, “so Barry, what did the full complement of the ‘Love Fellowship’ set us back?”
“Two hundred dollars, the agreed upon price”, replied Elder Diggum, “Ted wanted to give us a taste of what the total fellowship could do.” “After the service, Ted told me we could have the whole experience for five hundred a week, and they’d even come to Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting if we wanted.” “I think we may have picked up a believer or two.”
“Hmmm”, said Elder Cheatum, “that brings up another topic we need to talk about, conversions.” “Mulva can you give us an idea about what our current head count is?”
The secretary/scheduler searched her laptop for the right spreadsheet and printed out the results. “People that have given their souls to Jesus and filled out membership cards since Reverend Helena took over is twenty-two”, Mulva replied. “I can’t make comparisons statistically because previous years were never more than three or four, total.” “We’ve kind of been staying even with attrition for a long, long time.”
“Twenty-two in a little over three months, wow”, said Elder Wiley, “It looks like our little ‘flash in the pan’ is panning out.”
“Butts in the seats is just one of our issues”, said Elder Cheatum, “our mission is reaching folks all over the tri-state area.” “We’ve got folks tuning in to Channel 99 and sending a check every week.” “Mulva do you have a breakdown of collections from the attendance and the mail separately?”
“I sure do”, replied the secretary as she printed out a different spreadsheet. “As you can see from the columns, we started receiving donations that first telecast, and they totaled forty-six hundred dollars.” “The next week, when we told people where to send their money, we got ninety-seven hundred dollars.” “The ‘outside’ collections have gone up about ten percent each week since”. “Our collections from attendance have increased as we’ve added the additions and have now peaked at about six thousand per service.” “I’m estimating a full church at two hundred members, so we’re averaging about thirty dollars per person, which is up from our previous average of twenty-four dollars per person.”
“I’ve got a pie chart here if you’d like to see the comparison in color,” the secretary said as she handed out the pie charts.
“Wow, Mulva, you’ve outdone yourself,” beamed Elder Cheatum. “This is some really good, useful information.” “Folks, I think we’ve got to decide what to do, and fast, about our growth issue.” “I think that a good portion of our TV viewership is going to want to visit our church in person, at least once.” “What will we do, now that we’re already busting at the seams?” “We can decide to stay small, and turn the TV broadcasts off, or look for some serious alternatives to what we’re doing.” “I want everybody to think about it, pray on it, and jot down some ideas for the next board meeting, ok?”
Elder Cheatum looked each member in the eyes. He took a deep breath and continued, “I’m afraid at some point that Reverend Helena is going to realize that she is the ‘Diana Ross’ to The Full Gospel Original Church of God’s ‘Supremes’.” “We can’t predict if that day will ever come, but I want us to be prepared if it does.” “If we can sustain this growth pattern for a while longer, we’ll be able to afford to bring in the top talent in the business, if she leaves.” “Hopefully we’ll be able to keep her happy here, but you never know how young people are motivated sometimes.” “What are your thoughts on the topic, Mulva?”
Happy to be called on again, Mulva related that the Reverend Handbasket seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the experience. “Helena comes back to the office after each service to sit with me while I’m the counting the tithes,” Mulva said. “She seems to be generally less interested in the money than in releasing her feelings.” “Helena just kind of chats incessantly while I’m counting.” “It’s like she’s transitioning from some sort of ‘out of body’ experience back to our world.” “I swear, I feel like she is just charged with electricity.”
“Maybe I’m imaging a problem that has no basis,” said Elder Cheatum, “thanks for your feelings, Mulva.” “By the way, I did want to ask you for an update about Alva Bread and the kids.” “Has anybody said anymore about the incident?”
“Alva’s being pretty tight-lipped about everything, so I really don’t have anything to report, except a rumor.” Mulva said. “Widow Ferguson in Number Four says she has seen Reverend Dale, ‘visiting his kids’, at hours after their bedtime.” “I haven’t said anything to Bud about it yet, he’s still mad about the whole mess.” “I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.”
“Good, good”, said Elder Cheatum. “Is there any further business?”
There was no business brought forward, and the committee headed out into the parking lot to a slight dusting of snow. “This might be the only thing that can slow us down”, Elder Cheatum thought to himself as he drove out of the parking lot.