(Soapbox disclaimer: In many ways, blogs are silly. Here I am typing some thoughts out in this post and I wonder – “Why even do this?” Then I realize that it’s primarily for me. Knowing that I am thinking in public forces a certain clarity and censoring that is good for my thought process. I try not to be “against” things as much as I’m “for” things. However, whenever I run across things that grieves my heart … well, this blog is for that. So, here I go …)
SPONTANEOUS OR MANIPULATION?
When you title something as spontaneous, I would expect the how-to guide to be drenched in pleadings for prayer. But when the guide is titled as “A How-To Guide to Spontaneous Baptisms” and it states:
15 people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when Pastor gives the call.
1. Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when Pastor Steven says go.
2. Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.
Have enough to create critical mass as people are moving through the hallway toward registration area
1. Create an atmosphere of Celebration for those being baptized as they walk toward the changing rooms…this needs to be HUGE and over the top celebration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. Leave 2-3 hallway people in the hallway at all times
Then the accompanying sermon for this “Spontaneous Baptism” is this:
If you’re seated in the middle of an aisle, do not ask someone’s permission to move out of your way, you knock them over and climb over top of them, and you get to Jesus and be baptized today. No excuses, no waiting, no apologies. I’m talking whole families, students, men, women. When I say “three,” at every campus, you move in obedience to God.
This is a new beginning! This is a new day! I’ve decided to follow Jesus! May hundreds come now. Do it, God! One (this is it!), two, three! Move right now! Right now! Right now! Don’t let the Devil talk you out of it. Right now! Right now! Get off the fence! Right now, Uptown! Right now, Matthews! Right now, Blakeney! Right now, Providence! Come on, you feel a little hesitation? Let God push you in the deep end today. It’s all about Jesus! It’s all about His grace!
And then the follow-up to all this is to talk about and give charts on number of baptisms that happened … I am a little taken back. Why does the seeded volunteers need to walk in “highly visible” areas and find the “longest” path possible? Yes to celebration, but why does this need to be “HUGE and over the top”? Is it not enough to say “this is a celebratory moment so let’s celebrate with them”?
Typing in “spontaneous definition” into the Google bar yields this result:
1. performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.
The key phrase is “sudden inner impulse … without … external stimulus”.
So, here’s the sum of it: while the intention (I pray) is not emotional manipulation, it feels like it to me. Massively feels like it. You are a gifted preacher. Why not trust in the sovereignty of God to do what He wills with the words you speak. You don’t need to pull the strings.
(Disclaimer #2 – this is not a straw man’s post. This is in reaction to reading Elevation Church’s Baptism Kit)