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When Respected Leaders Fail - Rebranding

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then hasthe health of the daughter of my people not been restored?


Jeremiah 8 verse 22


I was at an event where the discussion was about working in an environment of change awhile ago. The instructors showed a beautifully made video of a well know. company’s board room. The plot was about how impressive the companies track record was on various environmental fronts. I sat through it but could not help feeling incredibly gaslite and manipulated. I knew the company used slave labor for making some of its components. I knew it relied heavily on China’s mining industry with its human rights and environmental issues. I also knew the company had been through and was going through several anti-trust lawsuits.


When the video completed the discussion was supposed to start and some people mentioned how their trust of this company increased… I kept quiet long enough and simply added “it’s interesting they never mentioned child labor or their mining practices”. The table got quiet. There were a few nods but it was obvious everyone knew that what they had just watched was nothing more than manipulative misdirection.


The last several years have seen a substantial increase in narcissistic gaslighting from the political class, news organizations, large corporations and yes… even Church organizations. I get it when it comes from secular organizations… that’s all they know! The corporate training organizations dealing with counseling these businesses and political leaders all speak this language. In this culture of messaging the truth is less important - in fact it’s almost irrelevant in the quarterly report driven public marketing world.


The Church I previously attended approached the issues it faced through the split using the principles of “managing through the crisis”. Some things were left so they could blow over and people would forget. In other areas they carefully controlled the message, micromanaging it in a sense by directing who talks to who with regards to key tasks the organization needed to accomplish to save the ministry. As an example, conversations were had about who would contact us about whether we would remain members… they didn’t approach me, rather approaching my wife who would have been less inclined to ask hard questions.


Currently we have numerous national gaslighting campaigns happening in the realm of politics, education, medicine…


On every social media outlet we have large marketing campaigns utilizing bots sometimes funded by political parties and occasionally by hostile foreign entities. All of this is meant to influence you the voter… or… you the shopper.


Marketing is huge! Did you ever wonder why you can be standing in Home Depot and get an advertisement on your Facebook or other media page for a competitors store? It’s called geofencing… the algorithm recognizes where you are and then the competitor pays for advertising on your phone when potential customers are inside a competitor’s stores.


You are in fact being manipulated ALL the time!


Let’s be honest here, I am attempting to manipulate a response from you as a reader here as well… but I’m being honest about it.


My up front goal is for people to recognize the manipulation… and discern what is TRUE about what people are saying. I want to see people… especially Christ followers, build on the foundation of TRUTH instead of being sucked in by clever, virtue signaling, diversion based marketing strategies that are all smoke and mirrors and no substance.


Case in point… IHOPKC…


Faced with existential accusations and a hard truth that they had been duped by a charlatan and sexual abuser they have recently chosen to rather “rebrand” than to repent. I am utterly shocked…


While wounded lay there they simply step over them… continue on and focus now on rebranding their “image”. As I see it Rebranding is often nothing more than an insincere attempt to change one’s image without ever actually changing one’s ideology or practices… more than that it is an attempt to avoid real accountability or genuine repentance.


From the bite of the fruit in the garden humanity has been attempting to gaslight, redirect, misdirect or postpone accountability for there actions. Likewise from the onset of the scandal at IHOPKC we have seen every form of modern crisis management employed.


Repentance that is based in true remorse and compassion for the victims of Mike Bickle and others has not appeared to be the goal… rather what seems to be happening is a carefully crafted “image” of repentance. Much like the marketing video I spoke of earlier in this post… the target is not to actually make a positive impact on the world it influences but rather to protect the “profitability” or shall we say “prophet-ability” of the organization. It is not help for the broken lives of those who experienced emotional, physical, mental pain from years of gaslighting and manipulation that is sought.


The company I spoke of earlier… if I mentioned their name… many would immediately rise to its defense much like many have rose to defend IHOPKC.


Why is this?


Because gaslighting works!


Because this type of marketing technique has been proven repeatedly…

for the short haul!


There are firms that specialize in riding out scandal… These firms will guide the organization through the process of presenting the desired image… it is a smoke and mirrors show that is much akin to the misdirection of a magic show. Don’t look behind the curtain says the wizard of oz!


The Church, when it adopts these techniques becomes no better than Ananias and Sapphira from the book of Acts. Many might feel as if I’m being a bit harsh in making that comparison. We read what happened to these charlatans when they used the very same methodology that are being used in many of these abuse cases in Acts 5 where the story appears as follows in the ESV translation:


“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”


What this couple found out to late is that repentance is the point where the excuses stop… where the deception no longer has a place… where the ONLY thing left to do is fall on our knees. The consequences don’t go away… but our hearts can begin to experience incredible freedom as the shackles of the weight of sin fall away.


After confession - compassion comes naturally - after compassion comes healing of relationships and the breaking of bondages.


This doesn’t mean the abuser gets a free ticket… their consequences are not only a loss of trust that will likely never be and possibly never should be restored but potentially legal as well. What it does mean is that the church that repents together will heal together. It will become a place of healing as it places Christ at the head fully.


Confession is not what we have seen in many modern Christian leaders or organizations… certainly not at IHOPKC - we have seen much more in the way of control.


Controlling the message… Controlling the narrative…

Controlling the timelines…


Suppressing information…

Suppressing investigations…

Suppressing confessions…


It would seem that above all else… the evidence points to a protecting of the precious organization. That’s important! The organization carries with it the ark of the covenant! Come on - reach out and steady it because God is not capable of protecting the organism of the Church!


You can see my sarcasm here…


Those that attend IHOPKC… the call is now… wake up.


To the faithful in the Church… cast down those idols of people and places and things. Choose Christ!


The Church is not in danger.


Stop worrying about that!


Jesus is walking among the lamp stands in a sense as described in Revelations chapters 2 and 3. He is knocking… he wants communion, he wants us to place our Love for Him first so He can change us from within.


That’s the church! A whole bunch of people who have trashed their false piety, their celebrity worship, and the brick and mortar idols they have built up. There are sold out, spirit filled believers who lift up the broken hearted, run towards the sick, weep with those who are weeping and rejoice with those who are rejoicing.


Repentance is the the better way. Its messy and it’s not something that can be controlled.


Church… the season we are in has a lesson… will we grasp it?

The so called “dark horse” Bickle talked about is not real… and if the imagery he used has ANY application it is that the dark horse is the narcissistic, self absorbed, self protecting spirit with which those like Mike focus on the “image” of holiness and submission to Christ more than the truth.

Will we heed the shaking?


I believe we will… because the Bible declares that Christ is coming back for a Church that has allowed itself to be refined by fire and that loves Him passionately in “word and deed”!


“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:25-29 ESV

All of this simply brings us back to where we get our truth from… this excerpt from J Warner Wallace excellent new book “The Truth in True Crime” does an fantastic job of defining why it’s important to find our truth in the right place:

“While this ancient approach provides a sense of belonging and purpose, it suffers from some deficiencies. Finding your identity in the family or group to which you were born may not be desirable if your family is the famous Gambino crime family or your group is a crime syndicate. If your identity is formed entirely from an external community, you may be confined to the history and identity of your group, even if that’s not how you want to be known personally. Worse yet, groups develop their moral codes subjectively, even if collectively. For this reason, an outside-in, community-based approach to identity lacks an objective moral foundation. Is it “good,” for example, to be a Gambino? Is the “Gambino life” a “life well lived”? You’d probably think so if you were a Gambino.”

“Without an objective moral foundation, those of us who form our identities around affiliations (either familial, professional, political, or ideological) will sometimes, out of loyalty and self-protection, reject “inconvenient” truths considered offensive to the group. A community-based outside-in approach may limit our pursuit of truth. This is especially true if our associations have been publicly declared on social media. It’s not always easy to publicly admit when we’re wrong.”

— The Truth in True Crime: What Investigating Death Teaches Us About the Meaning of Life by J. Warner Wallace


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