Category Archives: Could be true

Pastor Discovers New Church Growth Method

Got Faith Community Church
Pastor Chip Smith has served as  pastor of the “Got Faith” Community Church in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania since 2004. Barnesboro is a small rural village located near Altoona, but since it is situated off the beaten path and has a declining population the church has  difficulty attracting new members.

The church was known for many years as Faith Community Church but Pastor Chip’s predecessor changed the name reckoning that a new, cool sounding name might attract more people.  But many in the area choose instead to drive to Horseshoe Curve Christian Center, a large mega church, on the outskirts of Altoona.

Computerized training babiesThe church growth idea began innocently enough but in retrospect Pastor Chip feels it was a sign from the Lord.  It was on a Sunday morning that  Mandy, a high school student, brought a computerized baby to the Morning Worship service as part of a parenting class weekend assignment. The “baby” was programmed to cry at specified times, intending to remind the student of the rigors of parental responsibilities.

The small congregation warmly welcomed the new baby. They refered to the baby as “it” since it was gender neutral from its external appearance giving passersby no indication of whether it was a he or she.  Mandy generally sat in a pew with her parents and grandparents, but the addition of a new baby made for an even warmer sight.

Mandy and family with babyFollowing the service many photos were snapped of the smiling  four generation family.  An older member quipped that it was refreshing to hear a baby cry (even if it was during the congregational Scripture reading).  He welcomed more of the same as he looked from one side to the other of adults gathered in the sanctuary.

The idea later hit Pastor Chip when he observed the offering and attendance slip prepared by the ushers. It stated the number of people in attendance and just below that number the ushers also added, “Computer Baby”.

“It was like a light that came on” chimed Pastor Chip when interviewed by our ALFN reporter. He had agonized over the slumping church attendance and then began to wonder if he might count the baby as part of the attendance.  After all, it did use the nursery services and it was publicly welcomed during the opening exercise. Then it hit him; why not invite more of the babies to church as a supplement to attendance?

TeacherHe called the local school and spoke to Ms. Frackville, the teacher of the parenting class. She was pleased to allow the babies to be used by the church during the summer vacation. She assumed the church would likewise use them for parenting classes. That summer the church had a sudden spike in attendance of 25, doubling the usual summer attendance. This bolstered Pastor Skip’s self-esteem and he was lauded by his pastor peers for the increase in church growth during the usual summer dog days of  church attendance.

But a looming crisis was on the horizon as the date was approaching for the new school year to begin. The babies needed to be returned.

After a bit of brainstorming Pastor Smith  went online but found that computerized babies were very expensive even if purchased “used”. However in a board meeting Frank Davis recalled a baby doll his sister played with as a child. It had a pull spring that uttered phrases such as, “I love you Mommy”;  “I want a drink of milk”; “Hold me Mommy”.  The board determined that this talking baby had enough human-like qualities  to count as a real baby toward church attendance and the good news was that these doll babies were available in both sexes and less expensive than the computerized models.

The church is now running 275 though admittedly a large number are now in the nursery. Buzz about the church’s growth began to spread in the small community about  Got Faith’s growing attendance so that the adult congregation has expanded as well.

The board did vote down a suggestion by Deacon George Zeal to purchase an entire lot of 1,500 beanie babies he found at clearance price on Ebay. They determined that the beanie babies just weren’t real enough to count toward legitimate attendance.

This prompted a church split with George departing to start his own church in  nearby Beantown which now reports an attendance of 1501. He named the new church,  “The Matthew 19:14  Church”.

Our ALF reporter interviewed several concerning this new innovative church growth method. Charles Harris, a long time professor of Bible, declared, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

But James Logan of the Emerging Church Network lauded the concept as a creative way to see church growth. He referred to the Great Commission where it states, “Go into all the world” and asked, “What part of ‘all the world’ do you not understand?”

Pastor Chip is now in demand as a church growth specialist and has had the opportunity to speak at several large church growth conferences.

Mr. WonderfulAsked concerning future plans he said they are considering another means of growth; a life-like “Mr. Wonderful” his wife gave him  for Valentine’s Day several years ago. “Mr. Wonderful” is handsome with a big smile (big feet also.) When you press his cloth hand, in his distinguished deep male voice, he utters phrases like, “Honey, take all the time you want.  I don’t mind waiting for you one bit.” Or “You’re perfect JUST the way you are; I wouldn’t change ONE thing.”

Pastor Smith considers how having some Mr. Wonderfuls around might just prompt the men in the church to tend better to their marriages.  And who knows; perhaps taking couples to the next level will include the addition of a few Mrs. Wonderfuls who are known for such thoughtful expressions as, “Here Dear, you take the remote control.  Whatever you choose we’ll watch together.”

At the conclusion of the interview with our ALFN reporter Pastor Chip stated, “These are exciting times at Got Faith. It’s almost like we have a revival.”

Advertisements

Lady discovers her spiritual gift is sending forwarded emails

For many years Mildred Swanson had struggled as she was trying to determine her spiritual gift. Whenever her pastor periodically addressed the topic of discovering and using one’s spiritual gift she felt convicted since she could not identify a specific gift.

However she rejoices in that she has now discovered her spiritual gift; sending email forwards. She collects all the email addresses she can and adds them to her growing email contact list, now numbering in the thousands. She knows very few of them personally, but is certain her emails are a source of blessing and surely people want them.

Several times throughout the day she forwards messages to her growing list of collected addresses, considering her forwards to be uplifting moments in the recipient’s day.

Our ALF reporter, SCW, managed to sit down with her in her modest home in suburban Walla Walla, Washington where she carries on her “ministry” from her home computer. She excitedly told us that she has sent as many as 38 forwards a day and feels she is now reaching millions for Christ as she considers how many of her forwarded messages are in turn forwarded by others ad infinitum.

Her forwarded emails vary but essentially she sends anything that she feels might be of interest to others. She sends inspirational stories, virus warnings and the touching emails she regularly receives from rich widows in Nigeria.

According to our ALF reporter, Ms. Swanson senses a “leading” to forward them.  When asked if she reads the messages prior to sending them, she replied, “O my! I  don’t have time to read all those emails; I’d rather invest my time in forwarding them.” She not only wants to provide opportunities for others to be blessed, but she herself also expects an extra blessing from the chain emails that promise a special blessing if you forward them on.

Our reporter managed to contact Les Longenecker by phone. Les, who is on Mildred’s list stated, “I don’t even know Mildred Swanson and have no idea how she got my email address. Actually after a week of getting her messages I placed her on my spam list so I don’t even see them now, although I guess I’m still on her list. For a week or so before I filtered her, all throughout the day my email would pop up with another “You’ve got mail” and it was from Mildred Swanson!

ALF also interviewed her pastor, Dr. Willard Frankhauser, concerning Mildred’s understanding of spiritual gifts. “Although this [email forwarding] is not listed in the Bible I certainly believe there may be modern gifts that are not specifically mentioned but nevertheless have the essential qualities of spiritual gifts” he responded. When pressed concerning the inevitable frustrations or fury from indisposed recipients of Mildred’s “ministry” he shrugged his shoulders and smilingly demurred: “Mildred is a sweet lady and a long-time member of our church. I am sure she means well and I’m also on her list.  Some of her material is a bit far-out but I expect readers will use discernment and of course there’s always the delete button.”


Worship Pastor fired for not being “cool” enough

Cht Samuels

Chet Samuels

Farmers Branch, Texas – Two years ago Chet Samuels became the worship and arts pastor at the Farmer’s Branch Outreach Center, a large independent church in the burgeoning Dallas suburbs.  He initially felt at home in his new setting and the church seemed to be receptive to his ministry.

His problems started when he began to open the weekly worship practice with a brief devotional based upon the devotional, “Our Daily Bread.” Some of the worship team felt it was a waste of time and they should read it at home on their own if they chose to do so. Some felt it was “legalistic” that he would even bring it up.

But his real problem surfaced when he began to insert a hymn into the 45 minute worship set. The final straw came when he directed the congregation away from the Powerpoint screen and instructed them to turn in their hymnals.  Many did not even know what he meant and began to pass the hymnals up to the front creating chaos in the church.

On Friday he was dismissed from his position.

Senior pastor Sam Smucker explained, “Hymns are generally regarded as ‘not cool’ and in this extremely competitive Dallas church market we just can’t afford to be identified as anything but “cutting edge cool.” The Living Word Community Church over in Grapevine is just killing us and we have lost a steady stream to them. The last thing we need is a hymn to destroy the church. Furthermore, many of our members complain they just can’t ‘get into worship’ if they sing a hymn. Chet is a nice enough fellow but just doesn’t fit around here. With his gifting he would probably be a better fit in a small town in the panhandle.”

A very candid Chip Hopkins who serves on the FBOC board elaborated, “Chet just wasn’t cool enough. We tried to get him to style his hair and wear a Bluetooth ear device at all times (even when he sleeps.)   We wanted him to dress with an open front shirt (preferably Hawaiian) but he had the gall to periodically wear a tie. That is so uncool!”

Pastor Chet does have an Ipod and Iphone but some have noticed he seems to have trouble using them. Hopkins stated, “He just sort of fumbles with the controls and seems unsure of himself. It sure doesn’t do much to instill confidence in his leadership.”

Chet was disappointed at his dismissal and wondered how it would look on his resume but is seeking direction from God. He feels there just must be some place he can serve although he does recognize he is perceived by many as rather old-fashioned.

Note: To avoid any further confusion the custodial staff collected the remaining hymnals in the FBOC sanctuary and will try to donate them to a homeless shelter or nursing home.

Inventor of SPAM wins Nobel Prize

  SPAM

Stockholm, Sweden – The Nobel Prize committee announced that Frederick L. Sternman has been awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to mankind.

Men shaking hands

Sternman is widely recognized as the inventor of SPAM email.  Like many great accomplishments his began small.  He tells his story, “In 1994 I was on several bulletin board discussion groups and had carefully collected the various email addresses of participants. I believe it was in October that I sent out a group email using these collected addresses advertising my Aunt Hildah’s mop solution for cleaning hardwood floors. It was at that point I realized the great potential for this. Although no one bought any of Aunt Hildah’s solution it’s as if a light came on. Thousands, even millions, could be reached inexpensively. Now in 2007 I marvel at how many have been impacted by my invention.”

Nobel Prize committee chairman Hanz Gunsberger smiled as he handed Sternman the prize.

He noted the following benefits to SPAM email and the great good it has done for mankind.

  • Many lonely people appreciate these messages. “They just don’t get much email and the human touch is so needed in our hectic, fractured world. This just brings people together in our global community” Gunsberger noted.
  • The dissemination of information just not available elsewhere, including products describing medical conditions people are not even aware they have and are very uncomfortable speaking to their doctors about.
  • Making prescription medicines affordable to all.
  • Providing top notch financial and investment advice.
  • Expanding educational opportunities making college degrees available to all.
  • Posting info about good, well-paying careers that people can do at home from their computer in only minutes a day.
  • Helping rich African widows distribute their fortunes to worthy causes.
  • Helping people to learn foreign languages. (many SPAM emails are in another language so the recipient must study to understand the message and thus learn a new language!) 
  • Providing downloadable software at a fraction of market price.

There are many, many others noted Gunsberger and more all the time. “SPAM is the gift that keeps on giving.”

In accepting the Prize Sternamn stated, “This is just so incredibly meaningful to me. To think I am now in the same league with Yasser Arafat.” (Sternman converted to the Islam religion while in prison in the late nineties while serving time for internet fraud.)

Fellow Nobel prize winner Al Gore stated, “I am very happy for Fred. As the inventor of the Internet I am especially pleased to see my technology used for such worthy causes. The way I see it every email of this type is one less tree cut down for paper. He’s a brilliant man.”

A smiling Jimmy Carter, also a Nobel Prize recipient in the past stated, “I believe Fred has done much to advance world peace. Furthermore I have ordered products from these emails and they really do work.” 

But not everyone is happy. Jim Samuel who runs a firm devoted to stopping SPAM says. “I can’t believe this! These unsolicited messages are a tremendous nuisance, expense and time waster.”

Nobel prize chairman Gunsberger bristled at Samuel’s remarks, “There will always be hateful, intolerant, narrow-minded, bigoted people bent on stopping human progress” he stated. “We must ignore them and do the right thing. Furthermore hasn’t Jim Samuel heard of the delete button!”

Gunsberger gave some hints at future prize nominees but emphasized they had not been voted on yet. Those under consideration include:

  • Osama Bin Laden (Peace)
  • Dr. Jack Kervakin, who developed the partial birth abortion procedure. (Medicine)
  • Ruth Beder Frinkman, professor at Columbia who first identified homophobia. (Sociology)
  • John Starswell, who invented PacMan
  • Richard Simmons, for promoting fitness worldwide
  • Karen Laftery for inventing the hula hoop, (Physics)
  • Larry Flint (Literature)
  • Elias P. Spamnen for inventing canned SPAM (posthumously)

SPAM website