Is it Praise and Worship or a Hitler Youth Rally? Manipulation in Praise and Worship

Is it praise and worship or is it a Hitler Youth Rally

Is it praise and worship or is it a Hitler Youth Rally?

The similarities between a modern youth praise and worship service and a Hitler youth rally are terrifying. Our beliefs and practices regarding what has become a subculture and mega-business of so-called Christian praise and worship, need a complete overhaul. [An excerpt from my book, Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord, available here.]

Sometimes 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 intellectually stimulating, emotionally satisfying, or numerically and financially successful. Pragmatism infects the church like rabies: “If it works, it must be God,” is not a kingdom value.

There are “leadership principles” and techniques that can be effectively used in the power of human strength to accomplish great things, without the Holy Spirit’s involvement. This includes manipulation in modern praise and worship techniques. You can find these active in numerous Christian communities around the world (particularly in rallying youth) where praise and worship play a very large role. Here are the principles that “get results” (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.

You know what’s wrong with the above? There’s no mention of Jesus or Calvary. There is nothing cruciform, cross-centered in the methodology.  That’s a problem.

Let’s take a look at three versions of these group dynamics: the human/devilish version, the manipulative church version, and then the real 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______.
  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 and supernatural signs.
  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. God might give your anointing to someone else who is hungrier than you!
  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 per se. The problem is the motivating power, ethics, and implementation 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. Just because you may “feel something” in a corporate gathering does not automatically make what you are feeling “God” and it does not automatically make it “praise and worship.”

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Copyright 2016,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord. available at www.stevecrosby.com in soft cover, Kindle, e-pub, or pdf. 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 stephcros9@aol.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. www.stevecrosby.com.

6 comments on “Is it Praise and Worship or a Hitler Youth Rally? Manipulation in Praise and Worship

  1. This blog post is very enlightening and even though it is hard to hear, let us be humble and ask the Holy Spirit for ears to hear this kind of cutting truth that will cut out ALL that is not of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. The “new” gospel is man centred.If it “feels” good, give me at least 10 goosebumps or slays me in the spirit, it MUST be God….right? Wrong…..whenever I see this kind of thing, I now go in the opposite direction. But, at the same time, these people are the Lord’s, we must NOT be unkind to THEM, we must love THEM, not the things they are ensnared by. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear must not look down our noses at them, we must ask God’s mercy to open their eyes to the truth too.

  2. This is a part of the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10) – extracting the fat and fluff from our assemblies, conventions, and feasts and bringing all things back to Christ. This feeds my spirit and love for the purity of the gospel and the nakedness of the cross. It puts my confidence where it needs to be, not in the wisdom of men, but in the wisdom and power of God.

    God bless you, brother. May He continue to use you for His glory.

  3. Ditto to the above comments. 🙂 Just want to simply say how much I appreciate this site. (I had read this book re. Praise & Worship & the Presence last year & it helped to confirm the nagging doubts I have had for a long time now regarding these things). Thank you!

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