And concerning the etiquette of addressing pastors, missionaries, evangelists and suchlike you have no need that I write unto you for doth not nature itself show that it is a shame for a pastor not to put on airs and demand that his given name no longer be uttered by mere people in the pew? For though we may sing that we “say brother and sister ’round here” we know that it’s not quite that simple. And the honorifics of the pastor shall then be on thus wise:
It goes with almost without saying that thy pastor shalt be called “Pastor” or possibly “Pastor Smith” for as far as you are concerned “Pastor” is his first name even if he is only a hireling. But if thou shalt abide in the cleft of the rock and in that land of milk, honey, and NASCAR known as the Bible Belt thou mayest also sometimes tack “Pastor” to his first or last name if he shall allow it. For Pastor Billy-Bob doth often proclaim that he dost not care what you call him as long as you don’t call him late for a potluck. So shalt thou keep the distinction between clergy and those who only perch in the pew.
Thy missionaries and evangelists likewise shall be called “preacher” if they are there to preach, “missionary” if they are there to mission, and “brother so-and-so” if they went to a college where we don’t send our young people. And all shall know that these are among the chiefs of the sons of the prophets and worthy of love and (even more important) love offerings.
And if any such man shall have mailed in his money, and signed the book, and received a sheepskin for his dissertation on “What’s Wrong With America and How It Would Be Better If I Ran Things” then thou shalt make all haste to call him “doctor.” Likewise also if he shall have received an honorary doctorate from The Bible Stands Shcool of Theology and Small Engine Repair thou no longer address him as merely pastor for thus it is written “he who would be greatest among you, let him get his honorary doctorate right quick and hang it on his office wall.” Verily thou shalt rejoice that thy pastor yells so much better now that he has been instantly educated.
But of the address of pastors who have fallen, slid, stumbled, or done time in the pokey we have no command save that thou mention them as little as possible and never by name at all if you can help it.
Right out of the bat we have too many SFL’s to count.
– Do you think they have enough American flags on the platform?
– We’re all familiar with the “table in the back.” Cash and checks accepted.
– Hey! My Life Was On Unshackled! How Cool Is That??
– Give to the building project! We only have 20 days! (What happens after that isn’t quite clear)
And that was just the warmup…
If we can think of the local fundamentalist pastor as a sort of Major General in the Lord’s army, then the fundamentalist Evangelist is rather like a bomber pilot who is called in to drop an explosive load and then flee the scene at top speed. Or he would be like that if bomber pilots stuck around long enough to collect a love offering from their targets before skedaddling.
The job of the fundevangelist is three-fold.
First there is the entertainment portion in which the evangelist plays a weird instrument, does a ventriloquist act, performs Gospel magic, or splits a watermelon on the assistant pastor’s stomach with a sword. In fundy evangelism showmanship is a must. It’s not enough to quote the entire book of Romans from memory — It must be done standing on one foot and juggling hymn books or there’s no point.
Second, the evangelist’s job is as teller of folks tales: this is known as “speaking evangelistically.” These includes the famous evangelist fish story and stories of revival meetings that were planned for a week and were so spirit-filled that they ended up lasting two months. The ability to spin a good yarn is paramount.
Last of all, the speaker is there to root out the seeds of corruption, sin, and worldliness in the church. If the church isn’t particularly sinful or worldly the evangelist may be called upon to invent new and creative sins to prick the collective conscience of the congregation such as informing everyone that a man parting his hair in the middle is a sign of latent homosexuality or that owning unicorn statues will invite demons to take up residence in your living room furniture and hide your car keys.
And for all this work the evangelist is awarded love offerings from the fundamentalist church congregation. It’s not bad work if you can get it.
For most of people, airplanes are uncomfortable transportation devices intended to get them quickly from point A to point B — hopefully with same number of bags, children, and pets they started out with. For fundamentalist preachers and evangelists, however, airplanes are the perfect location to gather unto themselves stories of in-flight evangelism.
Somehow, even on international flights the speaker always ends up next to an interesting character who speaks English, is not sleeping, and is willing to talk at length about religion to a perfect stranger. To anyone who has ever flown this is nothing short of miraculous. By the end of the flight the evangelist has inevitably shocked and awed the listener with his speaking prowess and the have decided to question the very roots of their belief in atheism/Buddhism/Home Shopping Network or whatever their creed may happen to be.
With the amazing rate of success on these flights, it would seem that a full-time missionary movement that does nothing but spread the gospel on aircraft should have emerged by this time. There could even be special classes added to Bible college curriculum to teach such missions. For example, someone may want to point out that in these turbulent times it may be imprudent to make your pre-flight introductions by saying “If you were to die today…”