Pastor Hennessy entered the small conference room, his face bearing his famous white toothed smile. Taking his place at the head of the table, he exchanged pleasantries with the others already gathered there. His secretary placed folders in front of each, then exited without a word. As soon as the door closed behind her, Hennessy cleared his voice.
“Shall we begin?” He queried.
Opening the folder in front of himself, Hennessy opened it and picked up a stapled sheaf of papers. “This, gentlemen, is our new mission field.” He then waited a moment while the group opened their folders and examined the contents.
“Its a report of how more and more Americans consider themselves not-religious.” said Cleve Johnson. The head usher, furrowed his already heavily furrowed brow. “How on earth is such terrible news, a mission field?”
“Its opportunity, don’t you see? These are the unchurched, just waiting on us to invite them into the fold and God’s graces.” Hennessy, adjusted his silk tie.
“But, George,” said Mitchell, the finance elder, recognizing what the tie adjustment meant. He wanted to get a word in, before the pastor started sermonizing. “I saw this last week. It says that more people are not interested in religion, any religion.”
“That’s because they’ve been lost. Its up to us to help them find the way.” Hennessy replied. He noticed a hand up, “I know you are new to the ministry team, Patrick, but you don’t have to raise your hand.” He waited while Patrick lowered his hand, “Do you have a question?”
“Actually yes.” Patrick said hesitatingly. The new choir director fidgeted with his folder, still unopened. “Just how, do we propose to do this?
“If you just look at page 12, its all right there.” Said Hennessy, adjusting his tie again.
Patrick quickly flipped to the page in question, glanced at the list presented, then raised his hand again.
“Yes, Patrick. And please stop raising your hand. This is not fifth grade.”
“Sorry,” Patrick quickly lowered his hand. “This list is stuff the church has been doing for decades. Do you think it will work?”
“These are proven methods Patrick. Of course they will work.” Ignoring the once again risen hand of the choir director, Hennessy quickly added, “Now if you all turn to page 27, you will see my proposed list of people to chair the committees, and a list of venues to consider for our inter-church conference.”
“Meaning no disrespect,” Said Mitchell, “but you are putting Bart Zimbrell in charge of the street ministry team?”
“What’s wrong with Zimbrell?” Asked Johnson, who almost always agreed with his pastor.
“We need new blood.” Said Hennessy, “Chase has done ok, but he hasn’t brought us any new converts in six months.”
“But Zimbrell is 90!” Mitchell retorted
“Just what we need, someone with experience.” Hennessy adjusted his tie again.
“Wait a second here. Why am I not on the usher committee for the convention?” Complained Johnson. “I’m always on that committee. You have me on the senior outreach team. I gotta go to smelly nursing homes?
“Now Cleve,” You know that our seniors are an important part of the church.” Hennessy, adjusted his tie. “Besides those old people, have kids and grandkids and nurses, who just may need a church home. You’ll be perfect.”
“I’m in charge of vacation bible school? Yelled Dorsey, one of the deacons. “I hate kids! How in the hell…”
“Watch the language Henry.” Hennessy warned. “Besides, you own four convenience stores. Your ability to reach people for God, by inviting their kids to VBS has amazing potential.”
“Well pick someone else. I don’t want more of those brats climbing all over the pews we spent damned good money on.”
“I’m with Henry.” said Mitchell. “We forked out a fortune for VBS last year, for food, and the bounce house that kept going flat. We had 60 kids, most of them our own, and only the Dawson kids came forward to be baptized. And…” shoving his papers back into his folder. “I have it on good authority that they were bribed to do so.”
“We need to remember our calling, our purpose.” Hennessy said, jerking his tie as close to his neck as he could make it. “We must reach people for God, We must bring them to church, We must …Oh for the love of Pete, Patrick. What is it?”
Patrick lowered his hand again. “Sir, I know I”m new and all, but I just don’t see how VBS, and street ministries, special guest speakers or concerts, or conferences where no one but church people care to attend will have any more success than it already has.” He noticed that everyone was staring at him, at least one in open mouthed shock. Patrick took a breath. “ I don’t think people want to be preached at, I think, and I know its a bit out there, but I think they just want to be loved.”
“Not want to be preached at?” Hennessy said incredulously, “How on earth do you think they will ever hear the gospel?”
The meeting dragged on for another hour as the group argued over the details of their God ordained plans. Patrick didn’t raise his hand anymore.