A visit from someone from Zenith Home Improvements recently reminded me of the occasion some fifteen years ago when we had a Zenith salesman in our home seeking to complete a sale of double glazing windows with us. It was a frightful evening when my wife and myself were subjected to a mental assault. Every sophisticated sales technique was used against us. We hung on to resist the sale, but only at the cost of being mentally exhausted at the end.
Why am I mentioning this remembrance? I do so because of the salutary observation that in churches, behavioural conformity, can be brought from people by what amounts to little more than manipulative sales techniques.
One technique is to play the “pity me poor pastor” card. In this scenario we labour the issue of how much we are doing for the congregation and how little they are responding. We start to urge them to come to events because they should remember how much effort it has taken the pastor to organise them.
What is the outcome? What you get is people who have shaped their behaviour, not according to what the Word of God says and their awareness of the call of God into their lives thereby. Rather, they behave in a certain way to placate the pastor / leaders. Accordingly, little or nothing is being achieved as regards to the growth of the Christians in the church. They may start to attend more meetings. However, this is not out of love for the Lord, but out of being intimidated by the leadership. And when the pastor or leadership changes or moves on it is likely that the behaviour of the people will change accordingly. There will be no lasting fruit.
I have to say here that leaders should be respected and honoured. But the honour for them is primarily based upon their devotion to Christ. In Hebrews 13:7-8 the writer calls the people to Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Notice particularly here how these leaders preached the Word of God. That is the basis of our call to our people. That is what we exhort them to respond to. And as they do this there will be lasting fruit.