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They say confession is good for the soul. And we are still in the season of Lent. So, what better time to engage in a little self-flagellation.
It was written over 40 years ago by a church leader to his congregation. The author is long dead. The community to which this letter was addressed is no longer recognizable as the church it once was.
I was reminded by a sermon I read recently that Guilt, Manipulation and Shame (GMS) remain popular weapons in some preachers’ Sunday morning arsenals.
It is easy to understand why GMS is such a seductive device for the person in the pulpit. Many preachers’ view their job as either getting more people to attend church or getting those who do attend to live more “moral” lives. Neither is an easy task. Success in getting more people into church depends in part upon the availability of a willing volunteer workforce. So using GMS to badger people to get busy in church is an appealing option for many preachers. At the same time, the social pressures against conventional narrowly defined morality are enormous. GMS represents a desperation measure to stem the tide of “immorality.” In an attempt to achieve success at both church and “morality” building GMS is a powerful temptation for the preacher.
It is less easy to understand why so many people in the pew are willing to sit passively while preachers hurl GMS at them from the pulpit. What could possible cause an intelligent, thoughtful individual to spend Sunday mornings being pummeled from the pulpit with a perpetual dose of GMS?
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