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How Much Is that Preacher?

Good morning, madam. May I help you'

Yes, please, I’d like to buy a minister.

For yourself or your church'

Oh, for my church, of course. I’m already married.

Uh, yes. Did you have a particular model in mind'

I’ve got a description from the Candidate Committee right here. We want a man about 30, well educated, with some experience. Good preacher and teacher. Balanced personality. Serious, but with a sense of humor. Efficient, but not rigid. Good health. Able to identify with all age groups. And, if possible, sings tenor.

Sings tenor'

We’re short of tenors in the choir.

I see. Well, that’s quite a list. How much money did you want to spend'

The committee says $9,000. $9,500 tops.

Hmmm. Well, perhaps we’d better start in the bargain basement.

Tell me, how much is that model in the window'

You mean the one in the Pendleton plaid suit and the gray suede dune boots'

Yes, that one. He’s a real dream.

That’s our Princeton #467. Has a Ph.D. and AKC papers.

AKC'

American Koinonia Council. He sells for $16,000 plus house.

Wow! That’s too rich for our blood. What about that model over there'

Ah, yes. An exceptional buy. Faith #502. He’s a little older than 30, but has excellent experience. Aggressive. Good heart. Has a backing of sermons, two of which have been printed in Christian Leaders.

He’s not too bad. Can you do something about his bald head? Mrs. Penner especially insists that our minister have some hair.

Madam, all our ministers come in a variety of hair styles.

I’ll keep him in mind.

Now let me show you Olympia #222. Four years of varsity sports at Brass Ring College. Plays football, basketball, volleyball, and Ping-Pong. Comes complete with sports equipment.

What a physique! He must weigh 200 pounds!

Yes, indeed. You get a lot for your money with this one. And think what he can do for your young people.

Great. But how is he at preaching'

I must admit he’s not St. Peter. But you can’t expect good sermons and a church-wide athletic program too!

I suppose not. Still…

Let me show you our Fresno #801. Now here’s a preacher. All his sermons are superb—well- researched, copious anecdotes, and they always have three points. And—he comes with a full set of the Religious Encyclopedia at no extra charge! You get the whole package for $8,300.

He’s wearing awfully thick glasses.

For $220 more we put in contact lenses.

I don’t know. He might study too much. We don’t want a man who’s in his office all the time.

Of course.

How about this minister over here?

Comes from a management background. Trained in business operations at Beatitude College. Adept with committees. Gets his work done by 11:30 every morning.

His tag says he’s an IBM 400.

Madam, you have a discerning eye. Innovative Biblical Methods. This man will positively revitalize your church.

I’m not sure our church wants to be revitalized. Haven’t you got something less revolutionary'

Well, would you like someone of the social worker type? We have this Ghetto #130.

The man with the beard? Good gracious, no. Mrs. Penner would never go for that.

How about our Empathy #41C? His forte is counseling. Very sympathetic. Patient. Good with people who have problems.

Everyone in our church has problems. But he might not get out and visit new people. We really need a man who does a lot of visitation. You see, all our people are very busy and…

Yes, yes, I understand. You want a minister who can do everything well.

That’s it! Haven’t you got somebody like that'

I’m thinking. In our back room we have a minister who was traded in last week. Excellent man, but he broke down after three years. If you don’t mind a used model, we can sell him at a reduced price.

Well, we had hoped for someone brand-new. We just redecorated the sanctuary, and we wanted a new minister to go with it.

Of course. But with a little exterior work, and a fresh suit, this man will look like he just came out of the box. No one will ever know. Let me bring him out and you can look him over.

All right. Honestly, this minister shopping is exhausting. It’s so hard to get your money’s worth. Tell me, do you also give Green Stamps with the contract'

Uh—no. But if there’s any dissatisfaction after six months we send a new congregation for the balance of the years. That usually takes care of most problems.

From the book Don’t Stand Up in the Canoe: A Fantasy from Life, Jean Shaw, Zondervan, Grand Rapids