Is it Dynamic Praise and Worship or Crowd Manipulation? Psychically Working a Crowd Isn't Worship

300px-Attributes_of_MusicSometimes out of our innocence, and other times out of our naiveté, the church fails to exercise her God-given abilities of discernment, and ends up labeling things as “God,” just because they may be numerically or financially successful.  Jesus nor Paul would be “successes” under that measuring stick.

Let’s consider some common “leadership” principles that can be effectively used  to accomplish great things, without the Holy Spirit’s involvement in any degree. This includes crowd manipulation techniques commonly used in “praise and worship” services.  You can find these techniques in numerous Christian communities around the world, particularly in rallying youth where praise and worship play a very large role. Here are the principles (adult or youth):

  1. Provide a sense of identity.
  2. Provide a sense of specialness, uniqueness, and awaken a sense of destiny.
  3. Provide a strong leadership/father-figure to follow.
  4. Use music/melody/songs as a tool to rally to the cause.
  5. Provide a call to a great world-changing endeavor or endeavors.
  6. Motivate to overcome adversity/opposition.
  7. Challenge to personal discipline and sacrifice for the sake of the call.
  8. Do large-scale gatherings to impart the vision.
  9. Provide soaring oratory that inspires them to the call.

Crowd Manipulation or Worship?

These objectives are all achievable without God’s Spirit.  That’s a big problem. Let’s take a look at three versions of these group leadership dynamics: the human/demonic version, the manipulative church version, and then the kingdom of Jesus version.

There’s a Latin phrase that has worked its way into the language of blogosphere commentary that’s relevant here: Reductio ad Hitlerium.   It means this: in any argument, the first person referencing Hitler loses, no matter how persuasive the argument! I am going to chance it here! All totalitarians use the above nine principles (as well as others), but the Hitler Youth stand out as a classic example.

The Hitler Youth

  1. Provide a sense of identity.
    1. Hitler gave them uniforms; provided individual and corporate identity.
  2. Provide a sense of special call, uniqueness and awaken to destiny.
    1. Aryan uniqueness, they were special and better.
  3. Provide a strong leadership/father-figure to follow.
    1. Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.
  4. Use music/melody/songs as a tool to rally to the cause..
    1. Flags, banners, etc. characterized the Hitler Youth.
    2. Inspiring militaristic music was used in all rallies.
    3. Songs reinforced the value system.
  5. Provide a call to a great world-changing endeavor or endeavors.
    1. Hitler called them to change the world.
  6. Motivate to overcome adversity and opposition.
    1. The Jews are the enemy, the opposition. We will eradicate them.
    2. We will use military power to achieve our goals
  7. Challenge to personal discipline and sacrifice for the sake of the call.
    1. Hitler called them to sacrifice all for Der Fuhrer and the Fatherland, even forsaking natural familial relationships.
      1. Hitler Youth were taught that their devotion to the Fuhrer and the cause were greater than their tie to their parents. Some Hitler youth turned in their parents.
  8. Do large-scale gatherings to impart the leader’s vision.
    1. Hitler Youth rallies were mandatory calendar events.
    2. Hitler imprinted an entire generation in these rallies.
  9. Provide soaring oratory that inspires them to the call.
    1. Hitler’s power of oratory would cause people to swoon, often en masse; thousands of young people would swarm an arena and sway and sometimes be overcome by his oratory.

Manipulative Church Version

  1. Provide a sense of identity.
    1. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Bishop____, I am of Apostle/Prophet/Bishop/Father______.
  2. Provide a sense of special call, uniqueness, and awaken to a sense of destiny.
    1. You are not like previous generations. You are God’s chosen generation to bring revival, you are the new breed believer/leader, you are the Joshua Generation, not like that dead Moses generation.
    2. They didn’t fulfill their destiny, but you will.
  3. Provide a strong leadership/father-figure to follow.
    1. You will not reach your destiny unless you stay aligned with your apostolic leader/father.
  4. Use music/melody/songs as a tool to rally to the cause.
    1. High intensity, modern praise and worship.
  5. Provide a call to a great world changing endeavor or endeavors.
    1. If you meet God’s standard, He will give you a great ministry and send you out to change the world, in the power of the anointing.
  6. Motivate to overcome adversity and opposition.
    1. Democrats, liberals, secular humanists, homosexuals, abortionists in positions of authority are considered the problem.
    2. We will use spiritual power to achieve our objectives. When we win, they have to do what we say.
  7. Challenge to personal discipline and sacrifice for the sake of the call.
    1. You must be holy to reach this high calling.
    2. You need to fast, and give up the things you enjoy, deny yourself media, Internet, take a Nazarite vow, etc.
    3. Your parents might not understand the uniqueness of your high spiritual calling.
  8. Do large-scale gatherings to impart the leader’s vision.
    1. You have to be at this event. God is going to do something significant and you don’t want to miss your chance to receive an impartation.
  9. Provide soaring oratory that inspires them to the call.
    1. Oh, brother so-and-so is ‘so anointed’ when he preaches! He is such a man of God. The Spirit moves when he preaches. Oh, I hope I get an impartation from his mantle.”

The Kingdom of Jesus Version

  1. Provide a sense of identity.
    1. Their identity is in Christ, nothing else.
  2. Provide a sense of special call, uniqueness, and awaken to a sense of destiny.
    1. Their call is to Calvary, to lay down their lives for one another regardless of personal aggrandizement.
  3. Provide a strong leadership/father-figure to follow.
    1. Behold the Lamb, the Son, Hear ye Him . . .
    2. Heal identities so non-dependent spiritual fathering can occur.
  4. Use music/melody/songs as a tool to rally to the cause.
    1. Praise and worship that glorifies God, not human ambition, and primary self-interest.
  5. Provide a call to a great world-changing endeavor or endeavors
    1. Call them to die daily. Whether that involves greatness or not, is irrelevant.
    2. We change the world one heart at a time, like salt and leaven, by influence, by laying down our lives, not by taking over institutions.
  6. Motivate to overcome adversity and opposition.
    1. He who rules his own spirit is better than he who takes a city.
    2. We “win” by dying for enemies, not by exercising power to conquer them.
  7. Challenge to personal discipline and sacrifice for the sake of the call.
    1. Personal disciplines are the fruit of the new nature, not the ticket for admission to spiritual escapades.
    2. Jesus is worth our all, regardless of what we are called to, great or small.
  8. Do large scale gatherings to impart the leader’s vision
    1. There’s not a single New Testament verse that says we are to impart vision.[i] We are to make Jesus known intimately. He is the Vision.
    2. Jesus modeled leadership by laying down His life, not by presenting a vision. Calvary is the vision.
  9. Provide soaring oratory that inspires them to the call.
    1. Provide mutually laid down lives, and incarnational living one with another in mutual submission.
    2. Teach lowliness and humility as an ultimate virtue, not soaring oratory from behind a pulpit.

The problem is not the principles. It is the motivating power behind the principles.  Discernment is necessary. Don’t be fooled by the human dynamics of a big personality, gift projection, energy, and crowd control techniques.

________________________________

This post is an excerpt from our book: Praise, Worship, and the Presence of God – A Better Way to Worship, available at www.stevecrosby.com. Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

 


[i] Please refer to Stephen Crosby: Authority, Accountability and the Apostolic Movement for a detailed examination of the OT verses that appear to speak of “casting vision” as leadership mandate.

18 comments on “Is it Dynamic Praise and Worship or Crowd Manipulation? Psychically Working a Crowd Isn't Worship

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It really helps puts things in perspective and separate the spectacular from the spiritual.

  2. Wow, Stephen, that one is a sharp one… How much silence matters when we come together, how much spontaneous stuff isn’t always the most anointed or relevant, how much we need to experience reverence… Thanks! A repost it is!

  3. Bingo! You are in full stride with your much needed insights. Attitude? How about adding longitudes and latitudes?

  4. Funny, just as I began to read I pictured the huge Nazi rallies and the Hitler youth. The Nazis excelled in the use of visual imagery, pageantry and musical ecstasy as a means of control and promoting their agenda. Unfortunately we often do not recognize the difference between the Holy
    Spirit and group psycho-dynamics..

    This is a hard word my brother. There are those who will not see the truth as the counterfeit seems so “inspiring” – so heavenly – so moving – so spiritual. In these days we sure need our spiritual antennae. We must realize that difference between counterfeit and the working of the Spirit of God can only spiritually discerned. As a former musician in and out of the kingdom, my Spirit by the Holy Spirit says a resounding Amen! thanks for this wake up call.

  5. As a recovering “worship leader” I appreciate this insight. It is, however, an extremely difficult subject to broach. = understatement. It breaks my heart, really.

    • Sandy, I understand. Having led worship for 37 years…I get it. Understand the feeling. It seems to me that real love requires someone to say candidly that the train is off the track, and let’s return to something healthy instead of all this other junk that is out there that everyone swallows without even a thought.

  6. Once again Steve, you say what needs to be said with great wisdom. It is so scary to think about how we use worldly techniques within the church and then attribute it to God. I shudder as I think back on all the times that I “cheer-led” the people because they weren’t pressing in during worship (ie I rebuked them). God forgive me! Maybe we will get it together before too long! Keep the words coming; we need them!

  7. I see a distinction between worship and praise. In praise, people generally get hyped-up and rowdy, sometimes to the point of spiritual arrogance in that they challenge the devil and seek to mock him. (If you really believe you are ‘dancing on the devil’s head’, and you are a ‘Holy Ghost warrior’, you should re-read Jude.) I do enjoy a good celebration of His love and mercy, but it can be a snare of appearances.

    In worship, speaking for myself only, I cannot stand up. I usually find myself laying prostrate before Yaweh, and it is not uncommon for me to weep under His Holiness. Worship is deep, heavy, and sobering. It affirms, time and again, who is Sovereign and who is servant. Worship is warfare, as well.

    I believe that praise/worship music suffered a great injustice the moment someone decided they would make for good music cd’s so people could buy them and ‘get some of The Spirit’ in their own privacy. When The Kingdom Principles become commercial, I just know that Jesus does a facepalm.

    Also, every local ekklesia should have their own worship/praise songs. Their own. See 1 Corinthians 14:26. While it is nice now and again to sing familiar songs that run rampant within modern-day Christianity, why limit ourselves to this? I find it hard to believe that there are no longer modern-day Psalmists who have it in them to bring glory to our Father through music, right in our local ekklesia.

    The downfall of modern-day, seeker-sensitive, mega-church, highly orchestrated “worship music” is that it is strictly spectator-focused, and no longer communal or familial. We have forgotten that He is indeed worthy and deserves praise and worship. Instead we have angsty, self-centered, touchy-feely, feminine-based music that is good for fleshly popularity, but does nothing to establish servanthood.

  8. Hey Steve, this dynamic is everywhere. And everyone except my brother thinks it should b the norm. It is hard to wrestle charisma to its knees where it needs to be. It is difficult to find simple faith lived simply. But I will continue to fight for the rest of God, In the everyday. Not in the flash. Love u.

  9. Steve, I have been wrestling with this issue of worship for a while. I absolutely agree with you about the hype and wrong motives involved in praise/worship used to capture a generation. However, quite honestly, I really enjoy big worship services and miss them at times. I can remember certain times(it might only happen once in a great while) where the presence of God was so strong, I could only stand in wonder and awe at the majesty and glory of God. Of course, I have also experienced this in my car alone, and when worshiping with friends at home too. However, there is something about large gatherings that seems to have its place as well. I really don’t know the answer, just looking for your feedback. It doesn’t sound like you are decrying large gatherings as a whole – maybe just some clarification is needed.

    • Hi chad, I cover this topic and this atter in depth, balance and fullness in our book Praise, Worship and the Presence of the Lord (available at http://www.stevecrosby.com). This blog was just a 1,500 word excerpt from a 240 page book!There is no way to present a full treatment in a blog posting. Notice, only 1 out of the nine issues has anything to do with music/worship . .this is a much deeper and broader problem than the “form” of our gatherings. It is about interior value systems. It is not about big gatherings, small gatherings or styles of worship. I go in to it in depth in the book.

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