Bardwell, AL-- Mrs. Winona Sessoms wrote her name on a slip of paper during the first Sunday in January and placed it in the offering plate. On the paper, she had checked a box indicating her willingness to serve during the summer VBS program as a teacher. In the comment area, she wrote “1st – 5th grade preferred.”
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, Mrs. Sessoms received a certified letter:
Dear Mrs. Sessoms,
Thank you for your recent willingness to volunteer for a position with Southdowns Community Bible Church. We have, with all due diligence, considered your application. Unfortunately, your request for a volunteer position has been denied.
Reason for denial: Overextended
Minimum acceptable SICO score: 740
SICO score (Sessoms, Winona M.): 642
Please be aware that a low SICO score does not mean that you are not a spiritual person. A low SICO score can be due to a number of non-spiritual issues, especially committee overload. If you feel there has been an error, please notify Lamar Novack, Committee on Committees Chairman, in writing within 10 business days.
Southdowns Committee on Committees
“All I remember at first is a bunch of screaming about some score being too low,” said Mel Sessoms, Winona’s husband. “Winona was coming back from the mailbox all loud and up in my ear a yellin’ about like she was ready to scratch something that didn’t itch, you know.”
During a phone call with TBNN’s intern, Novack explained that that Mrs. Sessoms SICO score was currently 642, well below the minimum 740 required by Southdowns Community Bible Church to be nominated for volunteer positions during 2008. “Southdowns used to accept SICO scores as low as 620, but with so many volunteers defaulting on their word and not showing up for their volunteer positions, we had to tighten our standardsin 2008,” said Novack.
A little confused, TBNN interns did some more investigating for Mrs. Sessoms and discovered that the Southern Baptist Convention along with smaller non-denominational churches started a network 2 years ago where Pastors and Church Clerks have been secretly working together to develop a Spirituality In Church Organizations (SICO) score for all members. Acceptable pronunciations are either “psycho” or “sicko”. The idea is modeled after the FICO score in consumer credit scoring. Most people know the FICO score as simply “my credit score.”
With scores ranging from about 450 - 850, your SICO level is a combination measure of (1) your spiritual availability, and (2) your actual spirituality. The SICO gives church leaders and decision makers a concise, objective measurement of your spirituality risk when considering you for a volunteer or even paid position.
All churches in the network receive the same information. Just like lenders are able to evaluate you objectively through your credit score, Church leaders can make quick decisions about your spirituality without having to observe you for months or even years.
SICO scores reduce a problem that has arisen for leadership in small churches because almost anyone (especially happy, bubbly church-hoppers) can fake church attendance and niceness for a few short months. Should a small church automatically place these pleasant new arrivals in Sunday School positions within 6 months? Sometimes they do.
SICO scores do help truly spiritual people who have moved for legitimate reasons settle into new churches more quickly. With a very high SICO score, say 800, a deacon who moves from one church to another in a different state for a job change, doesn’t have to spend years reestablishing a reputation of spirituality in the new city. In the past, such a person may have had to start all over building a higher spirituality level. Now, with the SICO spirituality score, he can begin deaconing as early as the very next week when the Pastor runs a SICO spirituality check.
Does a low SICO score mean a person is marked for life? Absolutely not. First of all, older blatant sins are much less of a negative than newer blatant sins. The SICO score completely removes any sin over 7 years old from the SICO calculation, with the exceptions of murderers and Mormons, of course.
What about spiritual identity theft? SICO representative Bill Walshman said, “It happens. I mean, how many small churches check driver’s licenses when new members join?” Individuals who are members of participating SICO congregations should check their SICO periodically to make sure no one else is attempting to use their spirituality. If you have spent years working to build your spirituality score by putting on that tie or makeup in the vehicle while woofing down a Smores Pop-Tart and running red lights (what policeman would stop you going to church?) to get to Sunday School on time, if you’ve held your hands high during praise and worship designated times, and if you’ve spent countless hours sitting through church committee meetings that ramble on and on, why let someone else ruin it overnight?
Call the 1-900-555-SICO hotline to check your own score for a small fee. If you feel there is an error on you SICO file, you can appeal it with the proper paperwork. You can also buy insurance against identity theft. With the insurance (costing only $69.95 per year for higher SICO score members), if it is discovered that there may be an error, SICO insurers will fly a specialist to your church business meeting (with as little as 3 days notice) to speak in your spiritual defense.
Since there is no “score cutoff” used by all churches, it’s hard to say what a good SICO score is outside the context of a particular church. For example, churches in rural areas may thrive with lower average SICO scores. In well-gossiped churches where everything gets reported, sins such as drunken fights (negative 15 in the SICO system) and out of wed-lock children (negative 25) may be common knowledge in the congregation and reported by the deacons or WMU. Such a church may have a vibrant congregation with a low average SICO score of 580.
In most cases, having very small duties without missing a meeting shows that you have managed your spirituality responsibly and may be slightly better than having many many duties. This is consistent with “he who is faithful in a little … will be given more.”
Note, even if you have spare time during you week, your score may show that you are overextended with volunteer work. The reporting churches are not able to report the amount of time you spend in personal prayer and Bible Study. You may have a lower score when you are involved in many activities, because, given the amount of hours in a week, the assumption is that you are not spending enough time in personal Bible Study and prayer.
Someone close to “maxing out” on many volunteer duties may have trouble “keeping pace” in the future. Sure, right now, praise team practice may not interfere with work day, but with two duties, the risk of missing at least one meeting is higher.
Such was the case with Mrs. Sessom’s SICO score. TBNN discovered the factors that led Mrs. Sessom’s overextension and SICO score of 642. We found a business meeting report from October which listed Mrs. Sessoms as having the following duties: Choir Member, Fellowship Committee, 3rd Grade Sunday School Teacher, Prayer Team, Visitation Team, Christmas Play, Welcoming Committee, Flower Committee, Nominating Committee, Palm Sunday Coordinator, and WMU Treasurer.