Taylor: Paying people to attend church

If paid parishioners took their task seriously, I would think they’d sell themselves on the value of belonging.

Years ago, when the horizons of my life were largely circumscribed by church publications, I read about a congregation that made a really determined effort to attract new members.

They hired an advertising agency to design and produce several thousand brochures. They bought newspaper ads. They had a professional quality video made, extolling their ministries. They organized a door-knocking campaign, handing out brochures and videos to anyone who showed the least interest. They even rented billboards at major intersections in their area

The campaign would have cost the church—in today’s dollars—about $20,000.

The result? Two new families attending church regularly.

Yes, there were a few one-time drop-ins, who never returned a second time. I never heard any reasons why they didn’t come back. Perhaps somebody snubbed them. Perhaps they didn’t like the church’s theology. Perhaps they didn’t like the coffee.

But just two new families.

I remember thinking, at the time: “Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to pay a couple of families $10,000 each to start attending church?”

Now that’s anathema. Unthinkable. We don’t pay people to go to church. They come to church to pay us, don’t they? To help us balance our budget, or to support our outreach ministries, or to pay off the mortgage faster—right?

But something rebellious in me asks: “Why not pay people to come to church?”

It would be like hiring an employee. You don’t accept the first person who walks in the door. You advertise a vacancy in the Help Wanted ads. You set up some job specifications. You define the payment, perhaps $100 for each Sunday service that people attend.

That’s all they have to do—attend church. And one other duty, which I’ll get to, later.

Then you invite people to submit applications. What qualifications do they offer, that would make them the best candidates for this position? What experience do they have? What references can they provide? How much effort have they made to get to know the organization that will be paying them?

Theatres and orchestras make hopefuls audition for their roles. There’s no reason a church couldn’t ask applicants for its weekly payments to audition for this particular community. There’s no reason why a church shouldn’t choose the best qualified candidates, instead of just taking anyone who shows up.

If the successful applicants attended every week, with two weeks off for holidays, they’d take home $5,000 for their year of service.

Oh, yes, that one other qualification—the successful applicants have to sit on the committee that picks next year’s winners. That means they’ll have to do some serious thinking. About what makes belonging to this church worthwhile. About what kind of people this church wants, or needs, and why. How newcomers can fit in, and how they can make a difference.

If they take that task seriously, I would think they’ll sell themselves on the value of belonging. And they’ll continue to attend, even after their weekly incentive starts going to someone else.

And if they don’t, good riddance.

 

Just Posted

Vandalism of fish incubators blow to well-known Lake Country family

Gary Kozub pioneered the kokanee incubator project and his family has been stewards of the salmon

Vehicle stolen after break-in at Lake Country home

RCMP are asking the public for any information about the whereabouts of the vehicle

Traffic backed up Northbound on Highway 97

Plan an alternate route if possible

Okanagan Boys and Girls Club’s youth program receives $50,000 grant

The Home Depot Canada Foundation gave the grant to support a housing project for youth

Regional District of Central Okanagan Holiday closures

The office will be closed from Dec. 25 to Jan. 1

‘Are we going to play?’ Alberta boy with rare illness no big deal for classmates

Porter Stanley is one of 30 people in the world to be diagnosed with Beare-Stevenson syndrome, a craniofacial disorder.

Publication ban on name of girl killed in Abbotsford school lifted

Reimer’s family had supported an application by Black Press to lift ban

Family saved but pets lost in Shuswap house fire

Firefighters manage to extinguish the blaze but a cat and dog perished

B.C. securities regulator probes ‘most expansive’ alleged trading scheme in its history

Liht Cannabis Corp states it’s doing internal investigation, welcomes BC Securities Commission probe

Air passenger rights: 6 things about what the Liberals are offering

For 3- to 6-hour delays, compensation is $400. Between 6 and 9 hours, $700. Over 9 hours is $1,000

RCMP, civilian vehicles rammed in North Okanagan incident

Police attempt to stop truck near Enderby, thought to be tied to alleged Salmon Arm armed robbery

New biker gang with ties to Hells Angels crops up in Lower Mainland

The Street Reapers were formed late last year and have been seen in Fort Langley.

10-lane George Massey bridge too big, B.C. study says

Consultants say replacement tunnel cost similar to new bridge

Couple caught up in B.C. Legislature bomb plot to learn their fate

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested as part of an undercover RCMP sting on Canada Day 2013

Most Read