By: Solomon Nzere
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you into the world’s most prestigious and lucrative profession; The Order of Cloaks and Collars. You may recognize some of our members by their titles; Pastors, Prophets, Reverends, Bishops or for the more eccentric Worldwide Founder, Most Reverend, Senior Apostle and so on.
Whatever we call ourselves, we are united by our common goal, make this money! (and win souls for Jesus too, that should always come first in official communication). This country is hard, your mates are in Canada, tax rates have increased and nobody is replying your mails for that elusive job.
We are here for you and in the course of this letter; you will learn how to win hearts and pockets. I will hand over the keys to this time-honoured trade that will have you sowing cars and flying jets in no time.
But first, you must learn how to navigate the tool that puts your hands in pockets; the fine art of a perfectly executed Sunday service.
Most of your congregation will just be coming in from Saturday club crawling and alcohol-fueled Owanbe after-parties so you must be gentle with them. This means no die by fire prayers or rapid praying in tongues session to start the service.
This is where your most important tool comes in; MUSIC! Whatever you do, do not underestimate the power of music in your church if you want to make it in this profession.
Invest in great sound, quality instruments and people that can sing their hearts out. It doesn’t matter if they are deluded that the church stage will be some grand platform to launch them into stardom. Let your choir soothe your crowd, get them dancing to beats reminiscent of last night’s partying and then drop them at the bus stop of the seventh heaven with heartfelt worship. Leave them there, crying, shouting and confessing sins on the altar, only then are they ripe for the taking.
Now it’s time for you to deliver your message but there is still no need for you to be in a rush. (Think of it as intense foreplay, all those slow and measured moves are worth it in the end) If it is your style, take over the worship, sing a couple of songs and drop your opening prayer.
If you do not have the vocal cords for the job, then you need a hype man in your life. Your hype man is basically someone that sets the energy in the room and gets the crowd excited to hear you preach. Your hype man doesn’t have to be someone too deep, a few jokes here and there, the turn to your neighbour routine and you are good to go. Lookout for young, relatable chaps in your church to fill this role. (Pro- tip: In my experience, people with stints as student pastors of trendy school fellowships are the perfect recruits for this position.)
If your hype man has done his job well you will have an attentive audience ready to hear you preach for the next few minutes. The order strongly encourages brevity, the very best make a quick work of salvation. (Plus there’s Instagram and Twitter to compete with for attention.)
Honestly, this is the hardest part of the job, trying to keep grown men and women awake. The key is to keep it short, sharp and relatable. Infuse it with personal stories they can relate with. Not to worry, you don’t actually have to have cast out demons or performed miracles to tell stories; you will get a bonus copy of the order’s bestseller: STORIES FOR EVERY MESSAGE. But this thing called Sleep is a bastard so here are a couple of tips to keep them awake and listening.
Numbers — No, not the bible book, actual figures. Always break your message down into numbered points so they can follow and wake up at the appropriate points. Think; 7 Keys, 10 blessings, 5 barriers and so on. Have them repeat the points to you as you go on so they don’t doze.
Tweet that! — If they are going to be tweeting for half of the service anyway, how about giving them something to tweet about. Give those punch lines and quotes that they can write in their journals, use as Instagram captions, WhatsApp status and tweets.
Crowd participation — How does a one-hit-wonder elongate his performance at a mega concert? By organizing a twerking contest on stage. In the same way, you must learn to use your crowd and give them something to feed upon. Bring your message home by getting them to act your message out on stage to illustrate your points.
Turn to your neighbour — This one is a gift that keeps giving. Use this to get your congregation back without fail. Get them to repeat your catchphrases and scriptures to their neighbours every once in a while, the combination of bad breath and invasion of personal space should get everyone awake.
You must always end the way you begin; with worship! Let your keyboardist punctuate your last few sentences with soulful chords as you announce to their relief that you would close soon.
Get them standing, arms outstretched as they make affirmations, declare blessings, tell them process and protocol would be discarded for their favour and drop the mic. Your work here is done, sit down and relax as your hype man and choir usher the people to bring in their offerings with merry hearts.
Let me know how it works out. I’ll write soon.
My name is Solomon Nzere, a law student attempting to escape a life in the wig and gown. For the most part, my life and interests have been shaped by media and communications. I currently work as a freelance communications professional juggling public sector communication and brand development. I enjoy losing myself in human stories from random blogs and medium posts. The most amazing plots and angles come to me and when I find myself in church against my will which is where my entry comes from.