Monday, September 3, 2012

Overpromising - a story about the Four Minute Church

Jim was a salesman who was looking to be sold on something. During the working week, Jim always strove to meet and exceed his customers' expectations. But on the weekend, he wanted someone to meet and exceed his own expectations. Because of this, Jim had spend a long time searching for a church that met his needs. He had tried a number of different churches, but none of them was right for him, and pretty much seemed to be a waste of time.

But something caught Jim's eye when he heard about the Four Minute Church.

No, this wasn't the Five Minute Church, a website that provided short devotions. This was the Four Minute Church, an actual church with real services in a real church building. The church's promotional flyer succinctly got to the point:

The Four Minute Church Meets Your Needs!
A church service with only the essentials!
You will be equipped in LESS THAN FOUR MINUTES!
(P.S. Be on time!)

It was a forty-five minute drive to get to the church, but Jim felt that it was worth a try.

He left early on a Sunday morning, and had arrived at the Four Minute Church by 9:45. He got out of his car and joined the other people who were walking from the parking lot to a very impressive structure. Jim found a place in a pew and waited, looking at the altar and decorations. On each side of the altar was a large digital clock that showed the hour, minute, and second.

At 10:00:00, a door to the side of the altar opened, and a familiar man in robes walked in. Jim recognized the man but didn't know his name.

The man spoke the Lord's Prayer. Rapidly.

Then he walked out by the same door that he came in.

It was 10:00:22.

Most of the congregation sat in silence, waiting to see what would happen next. But then they noticed a few people in the back were starting to get up and head for the door. Before they reached the door, they heard a car starting up in the parking lot.

Jim looked around him as a few more people slowly got up to leave. Eventually, Jim and the rest of the first-time attendees realized that the service was over.

Rather than heading out the door with the others, Jim decided to follow the pastor and ask what was going on. He went to the door by the altar to find the pastor's office...but the door led directly to a side parking lot with a parking space for the pastor. It was empty.

Jim walked around to the main door of the church, and noticed a man writing on a sign that Jim hadn't noticed before. The man was writing the date, and the number "22" next to it. Dates for prior weeks were also written on the sign, along with other numbers: 35, 28, 24, 41, 25, 49.

The man finished writing, turned around, looked at Jim, and smiled.

"Hello, newcomer," the man said. "Did we meet your needs? Or did we exceed them?"
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