Read CHAPTER XI of Fundamentals of Prosperity What They Are and Whence They Come , free online book, by Roger W. Babson, on ReadCentral.com.

THE FUTURE CHURCH

The time is coming when the Church will awake to its great opportunities. The greatest industry in America but the most backward and inefficiently operated, is still in the stage-coach class.

Of course the Church is very far from developed. The Church is in the same position to-day as were the water-powers fifty years ago. The Church has great resources; but these resources are sadly undeveloped. From an efficiency point of view, from an organization point of view, from a production point of view, the Church to-day is in the stage-coach class. It holds within itself the keys of prosperity. It holds within itself the salvation and solution of our industrial, commercial and international problems. Yet it is working, or at least the Protestant branch is open, only three or four hours a week. The Church has the greatest opportunity to-day of any industry. It is the least developed industry, the most inefficiently operated, and the most backward in its methods.

Let us shut our eyes and look ahead at what it will be twenty-five years from now. Let us imagine five churches within a radius of five miles. All of them now operating independently. Each one open only a few hours a week. Twenty-five years from now these five churches will be linked up together under a general manager who will not be a parson, but who will be a business man.

To-day the preacher of our churches is a combination of preacher, business manager, and salesman. He is the service department, the finance department and everything but the janitor. The Church is being operated to-day as a college would be operated with one professor, who would be president, treasurer, general manager, and everything else. The Church is being operated to-day as a factory with simply a production man and no one to tend the finances or the sales. Manufacturers reading this book know how long a factory could be run with only a superintendent and no one to sell or finance the proposition.

Twenty-five years from to-day, instead of the pastor being at the head of the church and a few good people doing voluntary work, there will be four or five churches of the same denomination united under one general manager. I do not mean by this that four of them will be closed. They will all be open much more than they are now; but they will all be under one general manager and will be taking orders from that general manager. Twenty-five years from to-day the churches will be self-supporting. The days of begging will be over. Religion has been cheapened by singing about “salvation’s free for you and me.” When we have our legal difficulties, we go to a lawyer and pay him; when we have a pain we go to a doctor and pay him; if we want our children taught we pay the price; but if we want our children instructed in the fundamentals of prosperity upon which their future depends, we send them to a Sunday School for a half-hour a week with the possibility of having them taught by a silly girl who doesn’t know her work. In any event the parent seldom takes the trouble to ascertain the quality of the teaching.

The time is coming when the Church will awake to its great principles and opportunities. The greatest industry in America is still the most backward and most inefficiently operated. When these four or five churches are combined, the preacher will not have to spend half the week in preparing a different sermon every Sunday. He will have two weeks or a month to prepare that sermon. He will have time and have the “pep” and energy to deliver it to you so you won’t go to sleep while sitting in the pews. The audience will then hear the same preacher only once each month, and the preacher will then have more than one congregation to appeal to.

The same man is not going to be expected to preach on Love, Hate, the League of Nations, How to Settle Labour Disputes and the Health of the Community and every other subject. All of these men will preach the salvation of Jesus, but each one will specialize in one particular phase of the Christian life, such as Faith, Integrity, Industry, Cooeperation. Then we will take more stock in our preachers because they won’t pretend to know every subject. Then the preacher will not be of lesser intelligence than the average audience.

Fifty years ago the ablest men in every community were the preachers, the doctors, and the lawyers. They were the only college graduates of the town and were looked up to. To-day, while we pay our salesmanagers from $15,000 to $20,000 a year, and lawyers and doctors large fees, we pay our preachers only miserable salaries. It’s a damnable disgrace to all of us. I often think that if Jesus were to come back to us, that He would take for His text that thought from the Sermon on the Mount, “If you have aught against your neighbour, before you enter into your worship go and square up.” I think that when He came in to speak to us on Sunday morning, He would say:

“Gentlemen, I suggest that before we have this service, we raise funds to pay the preacher a decent salary.”

Just before I went to Brazil I was the guest of the President of the Argentine Republic. After lunching one day we sat in his sun parlour looking out over the river. He was very thoughtful. He said, “Mr. Babson, I have been wondering why it is that South America with all its great natural advantages is so far behind North America notwithstanding that South America was settled before North America.” Then he went on to tell how the forests of South America had two hundred and eighty-six trees that can be found in no book of botany. He told me about many ranches that had thousands of acres under alfalfa in one block. He mentioned the mines of iron, coal, copper, silver, gold; all those great rivers and water-powers which rival Niagara. “Why is it, with all these natural resources, South America is so far behind North America?” he asked. Well, those of you who have been there know the reason. But, being a guest, I said:

“Mr. President, what do you think is the reason?”

He replied: “I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish who came to South America in search of gold, but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who went there in search of God.”

Friends, let us as American citizens never kick down the ladder by which we climbed up. Let us never forget the foundation upon which all permanent prosperity is based.