For those who have inquired, I will be proposing detailed remedies. But first I want to look at the consequences of this manipulative recruiting.. I answered Kelly’s comment, but it hasn’t posted for some reason.


Photo. Ned Benjamin,

First, we end up promoting, and holding up for emulation, the ones who recruit the most–who “win the most souls.” Since the ones who use these methods are therefore the most manipulative, this puts highly manipulative individuals in positions of prominence, and often of leadership. However, manipulation and leadership are opposites. So we end up with too many  people in positions of leadership who bully and finagle, rather than mentor and lead.

For the record, I am specifically NOT talking about the President of my conference (I know him well, he is NOT a manipulator); the President of this Union conference (I don’t know enough about him to have an opinion); the President of the NAD (I don not know him, but have a favorable impression); nor the President of the General Conference (again, too little knowledge to have an opinion). Neither am I commenting on their policies either way. Nor will I go further, because this is not about people, but about methods..

When we have people in leadership positions who are skillful manipulators, the bodies they are leading will be subjected to manipulation, and will suffer accordingly. Manipulative executives recruit manipulative pastors, and so on.

The second result is that congregations are increasingly made up of ‘converts’ who are susceptible to manipulation. In short, congregations become increasingly co-dependent. This means that rather than healing people from addictions, we often substitute one addictive behavior for another–and then praise the addictive behavior!

One man, for example, who had been an alcoholic, came into the church as the result of manipulation. Once in the church, he quit drinking. But instead of spending time drinking, he threw himself into church work. He still had little time for his family, but instead of feeling shame for not being with them, he shamed them for wanting him to spend time with them instead of “doing the Lord’s work.” Disaster inevitably followed.

I should caution readers, however. Opposing manipulators in leadership can be hazardous to your standing in church. They will use all their methods to discredit you and destroy your reputation. given that they’re very skilled at what they do, and that they have often surrounded themselves with their own disciples via their ‘soul – winning,’ they can be very, very effective.

When a conference has a number of highly manipulative/co-dependent congregations, often because of the efforts of one or a few itinerant manipulators,  the entire conference can become manipulative/co-dependent.

The more influence such dysfunctional recruiters exert in  a denomination, the more that body will be diverted from its true mission.

Of course, sin will always be a challenge for any group, as it is for each individual. And we will not eliminate sin this side of the kingdom.  But we don’t have to actively encourage behaviors that make our task more difficult, and cause churches to be sources of disease rather than healing.

Next, I plan to look at the process of mentoring/discipling in a different, and I believe, a better way.