September 2004 issue of Wired magazine points out that two recently-awarded
patents were given to religious organizations.
Mormons have received patent no. 4,959,828 for a Cableless communication system,
a wireless device that can translate multiple translations of a meeting to the
headphones of audience members (similar to those worn by United Nations delegates).
the Scientologists have received patent no. 5,455,869 for a Lavalier microphone
assembly – a fancy way of saying it’s a body mike “which cuts down on
such ambient noise as rustling clothes.”
first thing that came to mind upon reading that was “How do I get one of
those mikes without giving money to the Scientologists?” (Sorry, Tom Cruise.)
The second thing I thought about was, “Where are all the Baptist and Presbyterian
inventors out there?”
we’re spending all our money on projection screens and pretty worship slides,
while these other groups are beefing up their Research and Development departments.
Clearly our mainstream Christian denominations need to get up to speed on their
inventiveness lest the “patent gap” leave us adrift on a sea of second-rate
microphones and headphones.
I’m suggesting that the National Association of Evangelicals, National Council
of Churches and Tyndale House Publishers (they need something to spend all that
Left Behind money on) jointly create a new research division, the Creative
Research and Experimentation Excellence Department (or CREED). The mission of
CREED will be to conceptualize, develop and implement exceptional innovations
for faith-based organizations – in other words, invent neat stuff for churches.
an interested observer (who is perfectly willing to accept his share of future
royalty payments), I would be glad to suggest some potential projects for CREED’s
talented staff of researchers, conceptualizers, and accountants. (Someone’s got
to write those royalty checks, after all.)
Video Monitors. If you’ve flown on an international flight recently, you’ve
probably seen those cute little TV monitors at each seat. You can pull it up to
viewing level, use the remote control, and watch your choice of movies, play a
game, or even monitor the flight status. Why should the airlines (who are going
broke anyway) have all the neat toys? Instead of those giant, unsightly projection
screens at the front of the church (covering up the organ pipes), why not install
those little TVs on the backs of your church pews? Your members can follow along
the lyrics of choruses and watch the powerpoint slides of your sermons on their
own personal monitor. And if things get a little slow, they can flip over to their
favorite Billy Graham movie or see a replay of last year’s popular Christmas cantata
Joy Buzzer. In that same issue of Wired I read about a new pacemaker-like
device which can administer a small electrical pulse to treat depression. (The
electrical pulses are applied to the vagus nerve on the left side of the neck,
which apparently affects “neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation.”
Or something like that.) Having preached to entire congregations that appeared
to be on a corporate prescription of Prozac, I can certainly see the value of
an implant that can be activated by the preacher who sees too many folks starting
to drift off. It would also be helpful immediately before asking for volunteers
for teaching the three-year-old class, though you may have to crank up the voltage
Blocker. What pastor hasn’t been frustrated some Sunday when, just as he is
making a powerful point likely to transform the lives of every deacon in the church,
someone’s cell phone starts ringing loudly with the Notre Dame fight song? I don’t
care how many pleasant-looking announcement slides you display asking people to
turn off their cell phones – they don’t pay attention at the movies, and they
don’t pay attention at church. How about inventing a device that emits a powerful
electric signal that blocks and cell phone transmissions from reaching a handset
within 500 feet of the pulpit. (For a higher price, megachurches can purchase
the version that blocks everything within a mile-and-a-half.) For a small additional
price, you can obtain the module that calls all your church members’ cell phones
at 8:00 am on Sunday morning to remind them it’s time to get ready for church.
additional ideas for helpful inventions? Just send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll share the best ideas in an upcoming issue of PreachingNow,
my weekly email newsletter.
if your idea is good enough, I might even cut you in on those future royalties.
Duduit is Editor of Preaching magazine and President of American Ministry
Resources. You can write to him at email@example.com, or visit his website