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Evangelistic Endeavor -- 26 (Fri, 10/6)

FRIDAY, 10/6/06

Tonight provided the lowest attendance yet. There were 25-30 people when we started but it seemed that by the end it was up a bit to maybe 35-40. This is definitely not what we wanted to see on the night before the baptism.

The topic was the 3 Angels Message which we covered on Wednesday night as well. However, this was a more in-depth look and again focused on Sabbath-keeping. The evangelist was done preaching by 8:15 but that is when things got interesting.

While everyone was still there and he had the mic, he started talking to the interpretive dancing teen. He told her that she was very gifted, a natural leader, and could influence her friends in positive ways. Then, he made her come up front and he anointed her without her asking for it. Then, he had a Bible Worker bring a baptismal bag to her (They gave everyone who was going to be a baptized a bag to bring their extra clothes in). He said he was giving it to her by faith that she would be baptized the next morning.

He then moved on to the organist. He’s the most Christian man I met while there and is Baptist but plays every week for the church and has done so for the past 14 years. He really put the pressure on him too and told him that now he plays on Sabbath and worships on Sunday but he needed to switch that around. He then asked him if he could give him a baptismal bag. I was glad when he said he would pray about it and didn’t take it. He did the same with the teenage drummer and he too declined.

He then basically went around the room to all who hadn’t decided to be baptized and put pressure on all of them. A few said they would be baptized. He also moved to another teen who is Adventist. He asked her if she had been baptized and she said she had. He then asked her if she wanted to be re-baptized and she said she’d pray about it. He then told her that she just heard others saying that so that’s why she said it. He then basically forced her to take a bag.

I left the meeting full of sadness. Some others were angry and I guess I was too but the strongest emotion was just sadness. I felt like I was implicit in the manipulation of people to be baptized. I was especially disgusted by what happened to the two teenage girls. The interpretive-dancing teen will be baptized for the 5th time. Yes, that isn’t a typo. Her mother frequents revivals and apparently has her daughter get baptized all the time. Also, the rebaptism of the Adventist girl is deeply troubling to me. She was 100% manipulated into doing it. Just thinking about it disturbs me on a deep level and I can’t even write a whole diatribe against it. It just really saddens me.


Johnny said…

Will he report how many people he baptized? It wasn't so long ago that the number of baptisms performed was how your success as a pastor was measured.

Oh that and tithe...
Anonymous said…
Wow - that is a crime. And I'm sure that he will report those numbers to justify the thousands of dollars wasted. Well, that's what happens to conference leaders who put their emphasis on numbers, as those are often manipulated by desperate pastors and evangelists.
Anonymous said…
Yes, it is common for a pastor or evangelist to report the total number of baptisms including the re-baptisms. Some are very defensive about this issue; I have seen a leaflet defending rebaptism with proof texts. In fact, the official position of the Adventist Church in the Church Manual is that if a person has previously been baptized by immersion and they join the Adventist Church, they should join via Profession of Faith ... but many Adventist ministers don't like POF.

Most clergy seem unable to see the ethical problem that is created by pushy, manipulative behavior. They often feel that people won't decide to join the Church or be baptized if they are not pushed. And, let's be honest, there is a lot of resistance to doing the right thing in the world we live in; much procrastination, rationalization and denial. Yet, we must remember that speaking from a position of integrity is essential to really changing people's behavior and beliefs. A common joke among the clergy is "an evangelistic count." It means any number that is overblown, hyped up to be bigger than reality. I cringe every time I hear that joke. These guys don't seem to get it. If "evangelistic" is another term for dishonest, what does that say about the work of sharing Christ's good news?
trevan said…
In doing these kind of series, it's virtually impossible to not get caught up in the numbers game. They would try to use some catchphrases like, "It's not about numbers but souls" which didn't make sense to me. But, when you are doing something where you aren't GOING but having people COME, it immediately becomes about numbers.

I know for a few people there were rebaptism discussions. Some were really upset about how focused on rebaptisms we were. Certainly, rebaptisms in series are welcomed because it adds to the numbers.

In terms of someone joining who was baptized in a different Protestant church, they definitely want them to be baptized again. It's important to know that we are baptizing people into the CHURCH, not just CHRIST. Look at the baptismal vows and you'll know that this isn't just about Christ but about doctrinal beliefs in addition to Christ.

Personally I don't think they should be re-baptized but I can see why that would be encouraged from a numbers standpoint but also because of it being a baptism into the church.
Anonymous said…
He also publcially embarrased the young girl who danced by saying she had said the night before she didn't want to be baptized because of her hair. That wasn't the reason at all. She had already been baptized 5 times, and still needed to study some things. This was one girl I really got to know and felt bad that she was put into that position. He didn't not know this young lady, and she was pressured.

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