Monday, October 27, 2008

The Power of Words - A Story on James 3

This is a powerful video from Desiring God Ministries, highlighting the power of our words.

We can often take the words we speak so lightly, not being aware of how they affect others. James 3 speaks to this -

"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."

James 3:7-12

I found this video very helpful in making that point. Share your reaction with us.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities.  I exact more from myself, and less from others."

John Wesley

The Life and Times of the Reverend John Wesley, M.A, Founder of the Methodist, p. 451

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Lost Art (or Science) of Persuasion

Years ago, I read a fascinating article on the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini.  Dr. Cialdini has spent his life conducting extensive research and study on the science of persuasion.  Are there actually scientifically proven principles that optimize our ability to persuade another person?   Cialdini believes so and he has codified six basic principles of persuasion -

1. Reciprocity - If you do something for me, I'm more likely to do something for you.
2. Scarcity -   What's more appealing - a slice of apple pie or the last slice of apple pie?
3. Consistency - Make a public commitment and you'll be compelled to live up to it.
4. Authority - If Dr. Robert Cialdini says so, it's got to be true, right?
5. Consensus - we're like lemmings...or sheep...we like to follow the crowd.
6. Likeability - if you like someone, you inclined to want to agree with them. 

I've found it incredibly insightful and I've carried the article around for years.  
I wonder if there's a connection to our cultural engagement as Christians.  When it comes to engaging the culture,  we're not into reasoning and persuasion anymore - at least not in the public square.   It's far easier to polarize around moral issues and feel like we're "standing up for Christ".    Perhaps it's more satisfying to draw battle lines than to engage our neighbor thoughtfully about his eternal destiny.   

As I've been reading through Acts, it struck me that Paul engaged the culture in a different way altogether. In Acts 17, while in Athens, he "reasoned in the well as in the marketplace day by day..."  In Acts 18, arriving in Ephesus, he "went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews".   In Acts 19, returning back to Ephesus, he "entered the synagogue and spoke boldly with them for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God".

I'm absolutely not suggesting that incorporating these principles will lead to conversions (that's a work of God alone), nor am I saying that it will lead to broad Christian influence in our communities.   But perhaps, there is some wisdom in Cialdini's work that could apply to how we might engage our world more effectively.  

What do you think?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil."

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) ; The Expulsive Power of a New Affection (Discourse IX)