I had to upgrade the SAP to a TBP the other week. He did something that sent me veering straight back into limbic lunacy, the same day I’d shared my decision to be ‘Lipton’d’. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
You know those targets they use in fundraising? Large themometer-type displays that tally the amount of cash people have donated? Well, I wonder if churches have similar for souls saved. And if there’s a percentage conversion rate that they reverse-engineer a target out of, gauging how many they need in the soul-saving funnel (SSF) at any one time.
It’s obviously not quite as clinical as that. Love, empathy, compassion, the SAP patiently persists in reminding me, are all important strengths one has to display in the soul-saving
business way of life. As my approach to compassion is quite often from the school of swallow some concrete and harden up, I’m amazed the SAP is not yet sick of sounding like a broken record. I’d have smacked me round the back of my head by now. Yet, I do notice some softening in my compassion bone. I receive small reminders to breathe into it: You who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Galatians 6:1.
Anyway, back to the SSF. All the souls in it have to accept Jesus freely. No matter how much support and guidance you get on your way through the funnel, at some point you have to make a personal, final call.
Which is why, as soon as river baptism appeared on my horizon, the SAP went all Switzerland on me. Mr Neutral. If it were a game show, with the ultimate prize all stacked behind the one door, the SAP was a poker-face Larry Emdur. Getting to know the SAP as you have through these blogs (and perhaps social media if you are SA detectives), poker face and Switzerland are not qualities one would ascribe to this (scarily) forthright man of faith.
First, my flight reflex went: “Oh. Maybe I shouldn’t get baptised. He’s possibly being too polite to say how soooo not ready my soul is for this.” Swiftly followed by: “The SAP, polite? Heaven forbid.” Then comprehension: at this point before a baptism, it must be like getting ready for a public float (boom-tish) on the heavenly stock exchange. No insider-trading. Having read the prospectus and gained advice from your spiritual advisor to talk to God, any decision you then make must be of your own accord.
Once I’d reached my decision, the SAP returned to form. Switzerland was ditched in favour of a far more celebratory nation. Facebook Messenger crashed with all the emoticons of smiley faces, party poppers and those blasted things that unfurl when you blow into them.
“Absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It’ll be flippin’ awesome,” he added. “I just need your testimony, the before and after bit about how you got to here with Jesus and God. Then I’ll get you up on stage at church and you can share it. Ten minutes or so should do it.”
Hang on. What did he just say? On stage? Ten minutes?
So, just for a day, the SAP up-levelled to TBP. Had I spotted live, on-stage testimony required in the baptism prospectus it would have muddied my decision-making around being Lipton’d. Which had to be reached freely, without positive or negative influence.
Tricky bastard. But I have to hand it to him. Still smart.