Two weeks ago on a Wednesday I sent 20 emails to ministries involved in mission work asking for advice (not money) to help me get 3,600 sets of our Bible School Series CDs to Ghana and Nigeria. I was hoping to find a network, an organization or some good advice. It took about a week for the first response to drag in. Now after two weeks I have had four responses from the twenty ministries. One from Tanzania provided some very helpful insight. One Nigerian told me to keep sending CDs and Bibles. Another from the USA told me not to trust the United Nations. And after waiting two weeks, the man in charge of our denomination’s mission outreach emailed me and suggested I might consider putting my messages online!? What??!! It took him two weeks NOT to look at our website and realize that we already have about 700 messages online including RealPlayer files, QuickTime files, video, iTunes, and now, You Tube. The sixteen others have yet to respond.
Well, you say, “The clergy are very busy people. Men of the cloth have a lot of things on their minds and tremendous responsibilities.” Well, I don’t buy that. I have been involved with church ministry now for 22 years. I have been a believer for 32 years. I have raised my family in the church and with all of my boys spending some time (probably, too much time) in Christian schools. You ask, why such negative outrage.
Well, here is one of many reasons. About three days after I had emailed the ministries, I sat down one Saturday morning about 8:00 to email seven businesses that specialize in mass production of CDs. I also asked these seven businesses for advice on getting 3,600 sets of CDs (total 180,000 CD’s) to Ghana and Nigeria. (We have already shipped about 75,000 free CDs in the last four years.) After I had cut and pasted the email (even forgetting to change the name of the first company when I pasted the text on the other emails) I took my son to his Saturday morning basketball game. His game started at 9:00 that morning and by 10:15 my cell phone started ringing. This went on all day with companies calling me and emailing me on a Saturday in response to an email I cut and pasted that Saturday morning. Each of the companies had some idea on how to cut cost or make production and distribution more effective. Most of them were involved in their churches or understood the importance of fulfilling this obligation. Obviously, all of them provided a bid and a price breakdown. The difference was they responded a few hours on a Saturday and by 11:00 that Saturday night I had learned more about CD production and had received several very good ideas. Now, I want you to hear this, these men apologized because they wouldn’t be able to get me a complete bid until sometime on Monday because they wanted to talk with their suppliers and get the best price for this job. By Tuesday I had all the bids on my desk and samples began arriving in the mail.
Meanwhile, back in the world of ministry, by that same Tuesday I had waited seven days now and had received just two emails out of twenty, both telling me to check somewhere else for advice. Sixteen of the twenty ministries have yet to reply. It took seven businesses a matter of hours to respond aggressively. It has been two weeks and I am not planning on ever hearing from the other sixteen ministries.
What does this mean to me as a father of six boys? I never want my sons to be employed in ministry or to run their lives like men of the cloth. Instead, I want my sons to be believers in Jesus Christ, live according to the word of God and run their lives like a business man. I hope they never learn the worthless, inefficient, irresponsible ways of ministry.
So far, of my six sons (ages 12-24), one is training for the Marines, one is a snowboard coach, one is in the engineering program with the Air Force and my fourth son is consumed with the stock market, real estate and reading the Wall Street Journal. When it comes time for them to serve God I want them to be able to respond quickly, confidently and produce decisive results.
I wonder what kind of response I would have received from those same twenty ministries if I had asked them for their mailing address in order to send them a check instead of asking for their advice.