The Juvenilization Category of Tricks:
- The "Turn to your neighbor and say..." trick. Mr. Mega Pastor, we are no longer in the second grade, and we shouldn't be treated as such. This is just a way to force people to agree with you.
- The "end every other sentence with AMEN?!" trick. Amen is not a question. You are putting that word at the end of your sentence because it forces people to agree with you, as they shut down any critical thinking.
- The "make your church look like a children's TV Show" trick. Mr. Mega Pastor wants his followers to revert back to adolescence in order to instill obedience. But just how far will he go as he belittles his audience? How about this far:
Or how about this far:
Or how about this far:
- The "my expectations of you are so low that I'll repeatedly insult your intelligence in order to hold your gnat-like attention" trick. Mr. Mega Pastor thinks most people are pretty stupid and need to be treated as gullible spectators. Worse than that, he thinks God needs the church service to be an adult pre-school in order to accomplish His will on earth.
- The "listen to me repeat a catchphrase as if it were a Bible verse" trick. Because he needs these people to remember something, but he just can't seem to fit an actual Bible passage into his frantic yet meandering 45-minute speech...
The Cult of Personality Category of Tricks:
- The "we started this church in our living room 6 years ago and look at what God has done!" trick. You bought a mailing list, hired a graphic artist and a web designer, you mailed out a slick postcard to 10,000 people that made promises & claims that your church can never deliver, but you're giving all the credit to God? Don't blame this thing on God.
- The "aw shucks, can I just talk about myself for a while longer?" trick. You are trying to act humble but it's only working on the truly gullible.
- The "our church is really great, and just in case you don't know how great it is, I'm gonna talk about it some more" trick. Why is it so important to continually prop up your church? You're not a pastor, you're a salesman making a pitch.
- The "I don't have time to read the Bible, but I've got time to talk about sports/TV shows/personal stories/jokes/useless drivel..." trick. Everything that happens in your sermon is by your design, and you're deciding to cut out God's Word to make more room for yourself.
- The "here's a really catchy name for my new sermon series that I'll keep repeating (I hope it gets me a book deal)" trick. We get it: without a new book you've got nothing to sell at the merchandise table when you go on the speaking circuit.
- The "we are just so blessed and honored to have Pastor Whoever He Is with us today!" trick. And if you suck up to him enough, you'll get a speaking invitation at his (much larger) church.
- The "watch me do that dramatic... pause... just like Rob Bell or Andy Stanley" trick. This is just cheap theatrics, and you've cheapened the house of God by pretending to be profound.
- The "let me show you how cool and relevant I am while I pretend that I'm not trying to be cool and relevant" trick. Again, this only works on the truly gullible. You're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't you Mr. Mega Pastor? (And Mr. Cool Music Guy on the worship team, maybe you should look into joining a cover band to satisfy your need for attention.)
- The "let me brag about my luxurious lifestyle in front of the struggling people who paid for it" trick. You're not setting an example of success, you're taking money from people who will never live out the fantasies you sell them in the name of God.
The Super Spiritual Category of Tricks:
- The "I hope you don't notice that I'm just making up this prophetic utterance" trick. If you want people to believe that God is speaking through you, shouldn't you construct sentences that actually mean something? How ridiculous can these "prophetic words" get? This ridiculous:
- The "this is gonna be the year of acceleration! (or breakthrough, or increase, or visitation, or whatever...)" trick. Don't worry, after you make your New Year's proclamation you've got 11 months of useless blathering to distract everyone from your vague, yet false prediction.
- The "I can make outlandish claims without any authentication" trick. Why does every supernatural event that you mention occur in some remote country... without cameras?
- The "my Bible fell open and this is the verse that God showed me" trick. Wait a minute, is this a Christian church service or a tarot card reading??
- The "I had my sermon all planned out but God gave me something different at the last minute" trick. Wow, we've never heard that before...
- The "something REALLY big is coming... (eventually)" trick. How many decades have to pass before you finally cancel this ambiguous, confusing and useless "word from the Lord?"
- The "healing service that's actually just a guy telling stories about all the healings he supposedly did somewhere else" trick. Lucky for this guy, the people who come to get healed are usually so desperate and confused they stay the whole time anyway. When they don't get healed they often blame themselves, too.
- The "watch me talk very very fast, as if the sheer quantity of my words equated to Godly wisdom" trick. I suppose if you slowed down everyone could see that you're not really saying anything.
- The "shift in the atmosphere" trick. Is this the Christian Church or an episode of Ghost Hunters?
- The "Holy Spirit Tourette Syndrome" trick. Really? That's supposed to be the result of the Holy Spirit??
- The "don't put God in a box" trick. This is how you turn the sovereign God of the Universe who has revealed Himself in His Holy Word into your own weird little creation.
- The "Law of Attraction" trick. Well, if you don't want to preach the Gospel from the Bible, I guess you might as well steal ideas from Oprah...
- The "God spoke to me, so you pretty much have to believe whatever I say" trick. Don't worry, hardly anyone will notice that this is exactly how all cults get started.