The traditional Christian belief is that God is a trinity; a three-in-one entity made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (don’t ask me to explain it; in the first place, this is just a quick overview, and in the second place I cannot explain God). 🙂
If one asks a typical pastor or evangelist if he believes in the Holy Spirit, he will say “Of course! That’s basic Christian doctrine.”
What I’m discussing here, however, is not the theological doctrines to which someone gives lip service; I’d like to discuss the practice of some pastors/evangelists.
Growth: is it the pastor’s job to grow people? No, his job is to feed the people by expounded the Scripture; the Holy Spirit will grow people. Is it the pastor’s job to conform the church members to the pastor’s way of thinking? No; we are all to conform to Jesus’ image as we surrender to the Holy Spirit.
Psychological manipulation must not usurp the Holy Spirit’s leading.
In the services I have been in, at the end is an invitation, which normally begins with the pastor asking for “every head bowed and every eye closed.” This is often accompanied by the statement that “no one is looking around” and also a request that no one should be leaving. The impression given upon visitors and (most) members is that this is a private time between you (the hearer) and God as to what has been said. Depending on the church, the pastor will ask for those who are not sure they are saved to raise their hands; sometimes he will ask for those to whom God has spoken to raise their hands. The pastor, in theory, just wants to pray for you.
However, in some churches, the Holy Spirit is thrown right out the door and heavy manipulation begins… if you are saved (a Christian), and God spoke to you through the message, you are urged to come forward. Sometimes added pressure is brought with the “you aren’t ashamed to show that God has worked in your life, are you?” The person who is not sure he is saved can be approached be people… “Wow,” (the thought goes), “maybe God has spoken to them about my uncertainty and I should go forward.” Or sometimes someone will ask you to go forward with them, and then spring it on you that you raised your hand for salvation.
In some of these churches, the pastor will ask staff members, or special members in the congregation to NOT bow their heads; to NOT close their eyes, and to see who is not sure about their salvation. These people are encourage to approach and talk to the people.
Sometimes, the pastor will tell the leaders who raised his hand for what later on.
Are we so desperate to see someone say a prayer that we have to resort to such manipulation?
Do some pastors and/or evangelists really think that God the Holy Spirit is so weak that He cannot convict someone without these kind of techniques??
Let us not be deceptive; if you imply that a hand-raising is private between the person raising his hand and the person in the pulpit, keep it that way! Don’t spread it, and don’t get caught in a lie with staff or others watching when you told everyone that no one else was watching.
Let’s be honest!
I’m sorry to hear that this actually happens.
So am I. When I was a teen, a leader asked me to “peek” at who raised his hand being unsure of salvation, and then wanted me to, uh, “talk” to him.
And, I remember being a kind of a fly on the wall when various pastors discussed who had raised a hand during the invitation.
While I love God and His word, I am a little soured on the methods that some of His supposed “servants” use.