Televised ministry sensationalism… this is the hyperconservative Church of Christ answer to Jerry Springer or the sensationalist episodes of Dateline NBC.
I was watching a televised ministry sensationalist clip on youtube recently where Johnny Robertson and a cameraman went after Pastor Jackie Poe, of The Church at Mercy Crossing in Martinsville, Virginia. Pastor Poe was caught off guard that day, and so made several mistakes in the way he responded to Mr. Robertson, which is understandable when you are the subject of an ambush.
I would like to detail the mistakes made, and then make a list of several different ways you can respond if you are ever the subject of one of a televised ministry senstationalist impromptu “interview”.
First, the clip in question:
Now, from watching the clip, this is what I see. It appears that Pastor Poe has just arrived to the Church at Mercy Crossing (on a Saturday morning?), and Mr. Robertson (in his registered trademark cowboy hat) and cameraman with an apparently turned off camera (notice how it is held often at a lower level, as if to give the appearance that it is not on? – and then Pastor Poe realizes that it is, in fact, on, and that’s when the clip ends) are there waiting for him. Pastor Poe makes his way into the church.
edit: A commenter named “Jo” said the following about the context of this clip, which is apparently told on a DVD, but not on the youtube site:
“I believe the DVDs stated that Mr. Poe and crew were working at the church and it was Mr. Robertson’s good fortune to come at that time.”
Now back to our regularly scheduled post.
Let’s look at some of the mistakes Pastor Poe made in this clip.
Telling the Hypercon to Leave the Property. This is exactly what a televised ministry sensationalist with a camera wants you to do. This makes it look like he is being unfairly treated, and if he is a hypercon “Church of Christ” person, it will give him a prime example of the “persecution” he is undergoing in the pursuit of his “missionary work” in your area. And do understand that he will use the clip in such a way – probably in large Churches of Christ out in Texas.
Insulting the Hypercon. In the clip, Pastor Poe is obviously frustrated by Mr. Robertson. His first attempt to vent that frustration is the not-so-subtle barb about “attraction”. This was Pastor Poe’s flesh talking here, and insulting is to be avoided at all costs, because this sort of thing will be played and replayed, and while it may bring you a certain amount of instant satisfaction, in the long run it will not help your cause.
Escaping. Pastor Poe is working to get into his building during the clip, and again, while it is understandable, it just makes the hypercon look like he is the one in control. You don’t want to give him the satisfaction. Of course, if you stop to talk to him, you will run the risk of being trapped. So, this one is not an easy call. Look down below for a list of possible things you can do to help pass the time if you do stop.
Demanding the Camera be Turned Off. Towards the end of this clip Pastor Poe realizes that sneaky cameraman is, in fact, already filming, and demands that the camera be turned off. Again, this is understandable, but it doesn’t help him come off well.
So, while Pastor Poe did the best he could under the circumstances, he could have done better.
Before I get into my thoughts on what one should do in an encounter with televised ministry sensationalists from a hypercon “Church of Christ”, let me mention some other things that did not happen on this clip, but have happened before, and are big mistakes in this situation.
1) Threats. This is the big no-no. Don’t let some big beefy deacon or elder come and suggest that the interview be completed “out back”. This just doesn’t help you or your position at all, and it will be played and replayed.
2) Agreeing to come on air and debate and then not showing up. Just tell him you aren’t interested. Why would anyone who has watched any of their “debates” want to participate? Did anyone watch that Armando Deloa debacle? They’ll fuss about the fact that you are a coward for a couple of weeks, but ultimately they’ll settle down and move on to someone else.
3) Allowing yourself to be put on the defensive. These men are well-informed, but there’s a difference between being well-informed and being right. Look at suggestion #3 below. Know your stuff – and know theirs. You can find the Achilles heel if you are persistent.
Back to our clip… what could Pastor Poe have done differently? What could you do if they show up at the church you attend sometime? Well, here are some ideas.
Sing! Hypercon CofC folks, when arguing the subject of musical instruments in worship, love to quote Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, James 5:13. So, the simplest thing you can do when you see them coming, is just break out into song. I know, I know, it sounds like “Hairspray”, but what else could they do? If they come at you with a camera and you just begin singing “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” (six verses – a good long one), what else can they do but join in? It could turn into a revival.
Of course, if you have a long, long walk, you could sing “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly. It’s not a Christian song, but it’s 17 minutes long, and has a great drum solo in the middle. You can do it on the hood of your car. The point is – sing!
In fact, you could even have this arranged with members of your congregation. If the ambush happens, as it did recently at Rick’s church, you could have a nonverbal cue that four members are to come up and begin singing an acapella song barbershop style. They should have a few songs in their repertoire, however. Even better, teach the whole church to do it – so that everyone breaks into song.
If they are really bad singers, it might cause the hypercon televised ministry sensationalists to flee.
Start Quoting Scripture.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Pastor Poe started to do this, talking about knowing a tree by it’s fruit, but he wasn’t prepared to take it far enough. The best thing for a potential interviewee to do is to memorize a book of the NT and just start quoting it from memory as soon as the ambush begins. Imagine that clip if Pastor Poe had been quoting the book of Romans the entire time, as if in conversation? If you don’t have Scripture memorized, just have a copy of the Word handy and just start reading aloud. Just don’t allow the hypercon “Church of Christ” televised ministry sensationalist to interrupt if you happen upon one of their favorite passages (Romans 16:16 or Acts 2:38, for example).
Know their doctrine, too. Now, I know most pastors are too busy actually ministering to people to spend time understanding the limited interpretation of the hypercon Churches of Christ – but a little knowledge could go a long way. And trust me – they know your doctrine, and will bring up the most obscure reference to try and paint you into a corner. But they have their own corners – investigate and learn! There are many conversations on this blog which could help – and follow the links in the blogroll, too.
Speak nothing but pig latin. These men are so opposed to the idea of speaking in tongues, that it might just cause them to leave just to avoid the appearance of evil.
Hypercon: Excuse me, Pastor. My name is Billy Bob Bisedell, and I host a program on Star 39.
Pastor: Esyay, Iyay owknay ouyay. Our’eyay hattay uygay hattay oesday ecretsay ameracay mbushesayay.
Hypercon: Er – right. Now, I wanted to ask you where you get the Scriptural authority to have a praise band.
Pastor: Ren’tyay heytay reatgay? Hosetay idskay eallyray ovelay hetay ordLay.
Hypercon: Excuse me, but are you speaking in tongues?
Pastor: Ohnay. T’siyay igpay atinlay.
Hypercon: Um… we’ve got to go.
Pastor: Oodbyegay! Omecay gainayay ealray oonsay!
The point would be to keep it up the entire time, but answer the questions seriously.
Okay, that last one was tongue in cheek, but you get the picture.
Now, I do want to differentiate something here – if you have an informal conversation with a hyperconservative “Church of Christ” person – that is different. If you are a pastor, you might want to go ahead and record the conversation yourself, but don’t worry about singing. Just relax and make sure that you know your stuff. However, should they show up at the church where you minister on a Sunday evening, be prepared.
Finally, if you remember nothing else in this post, remember this:
If one of the hyperconservative TV hosts show up at the church you attend or where you preach – assume that a camera or microphone is involved. If a camera is visible but appears to be turned off, assume that it is on, but being held down to make it appear turned off. If you make this assumption, you won’t be as likely to be burned later.
Any other suggestions of ways to frustrate the hypercon “Church of Christ” attempts at televised ministry sensationalism? But remember – keep it civil. No suggestions that involve violence, crudeness or rudeness, please.