It's been a while since I last wrote a letter. I have been busy for the past five months. The good thing about it is that I have found a job that gave me the opportunity to learn and to earn a living. In the second half of 2009, I was without what you would call a regular job. It was a time when I had to gain more knowledge, to hone my skills, and to gain perspective. The job market was not in a good condition and I was feeling desperate, even depressed.
One fine Sunday morning, while I was attending church, it occurred to me, "Even in a bad economy, these churches still thrive. They offer hope to people who feel that there's no hope in sight and that only God can help them." I also recalled that when I was in the United States, I saw at least two churches in every town that I passed through during my road trips. "Hmm... What worked for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets also worked for churches. Those churches must have had a lot of property and tax-free earnings.", I thought. As I was churning a lot of ideas in my mind, I had an "Aha!" moment. "If I can't find a job, I might as well establish a business... *cough, cough* No, a church. Then, I'll journey to the West and propagate the bu.. *cough, cough* gospel and gain ca... *cough,cough* converts." I then did some research on how some Christian churches and denominations were founded. After hours of research, I found out that it is possible to establish a church by forming a religious corporation.
I have come up with a how-to guide for establishing a religious corporation. The procedures may vary depending on the would-be entre... *cough, cough* executive minister.
- Have some prior knowledge. In order to establish a church, you must first have a foundation, a body of knowledge to work with. You can gain this knowledge by joining other religions. Learn about their doctrines or dogmas. Read the Bible and other holy texts. You may have to doubt and jump ship from time to time in your quest for the true church.
- Do an intensive study of the Bible. This is best done in isolation. Have a pen, a notebook or two, and at least two different versions of the Bible. The more versions, the better, for you might need to refer to more than one interpretation in the future. Read and understand the book/s from cover to cover, for that will give you an edge over your would-be rivals.
- Look for Biblical prophecies that coincide with the events of the time (e.g. wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, widespread poverty, advancement of knowledge). Reading Isaiah, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation would be a good start. This step will help your church appear to be based on the Bible.
- Go out and preach. Over the course of a few days, you may have gained divine inspiration and you are certain that God has commissioned you to preach the gospel. Start preaching to a small audience, say, to your family, friends and community. Organize a small religious meeting. Make sure that what you preach has a strong Biblical foundation so that you can win converts. You may also train some of your converts to become ministers in your fledgling church.
- Register the church as a corporation sole. In order to avoid problems in the future, have the church registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a corporation sole, with you as the chief bishop, pastor, executive minister, rabbi or any other designation as a presiding church elder. (NOTE: In the Title XIII, Chapter II of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, a religious corporation is classified as a special corporation.) The registration should coincide with a historic event, something that would change the world (e.g. The Great War). Once you are in the SEC, conduct yourself with firmness of purpose. The officer who is in charge of your case may ask you if you are certain about your course of action. Respond with a steely conviction, knowing that you are doing God's work.
- Strengthen and expand the church. Since you are doing God's work here on Earth, you will have to edify the faith of your followers and fellow church workers. You will certainly encounter detractors, critics, skeptics, you name it. View the religious persecution as an opportunity to unite the flock. Tell your disciples that this is part of being in the church chosen by God, that they are sharing the same hardships that Jesus Christ had experienced. Keep on doing the work that God has assigned to you. You may have to travel to town after town, establishing congregation after congregation so that church membership will increase.
- Expand further. Once you have established congregations and built houses of worship in towns and cities, you may have to tap your pioneer spirit and journey beyond your native land. Don't be afraid to establish the church in other lands, for it is God's will that the gospel may be heard by more people worldwide. Preaching to expatriates would be a good start.
- Attract attention. Your church has grown and is still expanding. It's about time that you become known. Don't fight the critics and detractors, but rather use them for your purposes. The tree that bears a lot of fruit is a good target for stone throwers. Always occupy the moral high ground and lead a decent way of life. Let the people see your church members as different from the rest of society. Maintain unity in the church so that it would become a force to reckon with. Let everyone see the church as someone to be courted, especially when the elections are near.
- Use all available media. The 21st century is a great time to propagate the church, thanks to developments in information and communications technology (ICT). Use print media, radio, television, and even the Internet to spread the gospel.
- Do what other corporations do. There are corporations that not only do well in their core businesses but also go to other avenues of growth. You may establish schools, hospitals, media companies, and other ventures. Your flock is also a good source of human capital. Discourage church members from joining labor unions, for big name tycoons would prefer to hire them over union workers. Another thing that your religious corporation can do is to have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Extend help to communities affected by calamities. Conduct medical and dental missions, community cleanups, and other worthy projects. Your church may also participate in environmental programs such as the Earth Hour. (Yes Dad, it's good to be green these days.)
This how-to guide is a product of months of research and observation. It was conceived during a time when I did not have a regular job. Now that I am back on track in my career, I may not be able to use this guide. Maybe in the future, someone will find this guide useful.
On a final note, I am not of the religious kind, for my spirituality is personal, meditative and nondenominational. If I would be a member of a religious corporation, I don't want to be an executive minister or a Sunday school president. I would rather become the Chairman of the Bored.
(J) The Freethinking Geek