Senator Clinton’s embarrassing staged question act has brought much criticism down on the head of the Democratic front runner, and rightfully so. If you are unfamiliar with the story, follow this link to read about it and watch an interview with the student who was given the question. The strategy was a clumsy attempt to promote the Senator’s viewpoint, and it reveals a level of dishonesty within her campaign.
As I read about this story, however, I could not help but think of two moments in my past in which I had similar experiences. First, while serving as the youth pastor at the Dearborn Baptist Church in Aurora, IN I led in an event called “Grill the Pastor Night”. The Pastor and his wife attended our monthly youth fellowship for the express purpose of allowing the students to see and interact with their pastor apart from church building, the suit and tie, and the pulpit. A major part of the evening was a Q & A with the pastor.
Here is where the Clinton story connection comes in to play. I had scripted several questions for students to ask. These were not the only questions the students were allowed to put to the pastor, but I wanted to grease the tracks; as well as set a type of question precedent. With only one or two exceptions, the scripted questions were the only ones asked. Still, I was happy with the evening, and chalked the lack of inquisitiveness up to the fact that this was a different type of event for our kids.
I do not think that this incident is a fair comparison to the Clinton debacle. Not so, however, with my next example.
Before the start of a special evangelistic service I was approached by a fellow church member and given these instructions (this was pre-pastoral days): “Go forward as soon as the invitation begins. That will prime the pump. Others will be motivated to go forward as long as they aren’t the first ones to step out.”
I submissively nodded. As soon as the invitation began my feet hit the aisle, and I headed straight for the altar.
I now regret that decision. Why? Because the Holy Spirit does not rely on manipulation. The dear church member who told me to go forward was zealous for people to talk about spiritual matters with the pastor or someone else at the church’s front. His desire was well meaning, but the execution of his desire was misplaced. My participation in the invitation was staged, much like the young Grinnel College student’s question was staged.