our culture & the art of manipulation

I came across an interview Christianity Today did with Eugene Peterson. There s lots of interesting reading there. (To read the whole interview, click here ). There s several things I could refer to, but the part that caught my attention was when he talked about the church s tendency to manipulate people. This is what he said: Whenever guilt is used as a tool to get people to do anything good, bad, indifferent it's bullying. And then there's manipulative language to talk people into programs, to get them involved, usually by promising them something. I have a friend who is an expert at this sort of thing. He's always saying, You've got to identify people's felt needs. Then you construct a program to meet the felt needs. It's pretty easy to manipulate people. We're so used to being manipulated by the image industry, the publicity industry, and the politicians that we hardly know we're being manipulated. This impatience to leave the methods of Jesus in order to get the work of Jesus done is what destroys spirituality, because we're using a non-biblical, non-Jesus way to do what Jesus did. That's why spirituality is in such a mess as it is today I think relevance is a crock. I don't think people care a whole lot about what kind of music you have or how you shape the service. They want a place where God is taken seriously, where they're taken seriously, where there is no manipulation of their emotions or their consumer needs. This is the kind of stuff that turns me on! I m totally convinced that as a pastor, I must resist the persistent temptation to control and manipulate people.

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