I rolled my story dice and ended up with this.
The church theatre company was hurting.
Everything about the church was almost always hurting. It was in a town that had once been prosperous, it had tried gimmick after gimmick – including painting the church purple – to draw in attendance – and it was suffering from having been built in the early 1800s and, purple siding or not, in need of repairs, constantly in need of repairs.
The theatre company brought in a little money, but their costumes were all fifth-hand, the stage was sad and falling apart, and the only person they could get as a stage manager was going deaf.
Then Pastor Jim had a brilliant idea.
“It is going to be sad to see this church go,” he commented at the little stop-and-shop, when he knew one of the town busybodies was listening. “We’re never going to find out what happened behind that brick wall.”
“What brick wall?”
Pastor Jim would feel bad using Trent Sheperd like this, but Trent was just the right sort of person. And his voice carried.
“You know, in the basement. They covered it over in the last renovation, of course…”
The next Sunday, the pews were packed – and the theatre company’s basement rendition of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart opened to a sold-out house.
Pastor Jim kept laying clues, and spent the rest of his time getting in the way of people trying to follow those clues.
If he came up with something clever enough, he reckoned, they might even raise enough to fix the broken old wall behind the brick wall. And maybe the ancient catacomb behind that.