Wow. Read this from Pastor Steve Brown on the danger of becoming pastors becoming police officers who only crack down on sin:
I know, I know, there is a lot more to being a preacher and a pastor than keeping people from sinning, but if you become obsessed with sin prevention, it begins to take over everything you do and teach. Pretty soon you become a police officer and the crime is sin. You spend your time trying to discern what is and what isn’t sin, you emphasize “sin prevention” by teaching how to avoid sin and stay pure, and you create a disciplinary process whereby sin is punished in the name of Jesus and “for their own good.”
Here’s how Steve said this crept into his ministry over the years… and how it made its ugly face known in his leadership:
1. Manipulate with guilt.
You would be surprised at how far a “How could you?” or “After all that Jesus has done for you!” will go if it is said with sincerity and passion. It’s even better and more effective if you can attach a Bible verse to it.
(Last week I heard about a preacher who said that heaven wasn’t going to be a happy place for some Christians. “When you look back and see how many opportunities you missed and how often you failed when you could have succeeded, it will be depressing.” Now that’s over the top. Okay, okay, I did some guilt manipulation over the years, but at least I left heaven alone. It’s almost like this preacher is not content with making people miserable on earth. He has to mess with heaven too.)
2. “Encourage” with how much better others have done.
It’s sort of like the rooster who found a gigantic eagle’s egg. He rolled it into the chicken coop and said, “Ladies, I don’t want you to think I’m complaining, but I did want you to know what the competition is doing.”
3. Tell stories of heroes of the faith who persevered and were faithful in the hard places.
“If they can do it, God will give you the grace to do it too!” It’s very important that, when motivating with biography, you not tell the whole story. You have to leave out the sin, the doubts, and the failure. Only reference the victories.
4. Use the carrot and the stick technique.
This is one of the best techniques there is. The carrot is heaven, of course, and the stick is hell. After someone becomes a Christian, the hell thing doesn’t work very well, but there is always Hebrews 12:8 (“If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons”). It’s a simple matter of telling your congregation that while they probably won’t go to hell for their sins, God will break their legs if they get out of line. A few attention-grabbing words like “cancer,” “financial ruin,” and “leprosy” help.
5. Throw out the “follow me as I follow Christ” thing.
The trick here is to never let them see you sweat. You have to look spiritual, speak spiritual, and act spiritual when people are around. If they catch you in an unguarded moment, the gig is up. But it’s doable. I was able to pull it off for a whole lot of years.
What do YOU think?