Franchising The Church

In a certain southern California city there is a church with two outlets (as they say in the marketing business). One is called Scott Memorial Baptist Church West. The other is called Scott Memorial Baptist Church East. There are two sets of buildings, but only one set of pastors. The senior pastor and his number-one assistant alternate between the buildings on Sundays to conduct the services. Both branches are doing fine.

I’m convinced that SMBC-West and SMBC-East are just the tip of a new religious iceberg. Soon the Protestant church will not only have branches and outlets but also franchises in the mold of the American Free Enterprise System a la MacDonalds.

I can see it now. A hard-working pastor and his staff build a religious winner in a city. Rather than write books about their success or conduct seminars around the country telling others how to do it, they set up franchises. Orange Grove Community Churches spring up everywhere. (Over 8 billion worshipped.) The corporate symbol becomes an Orange-blossomed Prayer Tower rather than Golden Arches. Spiritual entrepreneurs can get their own franchises for a small capital outlay of $30–50,000. The parent company builds the church (a standard architectural plan is used, featuring large amounts of plastic) after a careful marketing research project in the area. And on a designated Sunday, preceded by an extensive advertising campaign and attractive giveaways, the church opens for business.

Of course, standards would be set by the parent company to maintain quality control. All franchise operators would have to attend Orange Blossom U. Service goals would be established. Each person would be guaranteed communion service in sixty seconds. A deacon would use ...

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