Church Growth: Snake Oil

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Church Praise and Worship
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Praise and Worship for the Modern Age vs Church Growth
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Snake Oil

“’Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’” (Matt10:16MKJV)

You wouldn’t have lived in the Old West for long before you would be introduced to the Mystic Healer and his elaborate medicine show. Even before the charlatan arrived to town you’d be entertained by a circus-like sideshow complete with a band leading a procession of wagons. Skits and other diversions, that were designed to draw an unsuspecting crowd to the show, would suck you in. In the midst of the gathering throng there would be assistants roaming about dressed as Quakers to give the whole ordeal a sense of respectability. Native Americans were also recruited to promote the notion of “natural” medicine, which was given names such as Wright’s Indian Vegetable Pills, Seminole Cough Balsam, and various Kickapoo cures. Eventually you would behold the main speaker, the mystic, who dazzled his audiences for the sake of peddling his snake oil.

The whole idea was to seek out people who would be ignorant enough to give these crooks their hard-earned cash for almost nothing. So even as they merchandized their famed elixir, the Old West mystics would tell their prey that their potion would do almost anything they wanted it to do. A cowboy named Clark Stanley, who called himself “The Rattlesnake King,” sold a Snake Oil Liniment that was alleged to be “good for man and beast.” An 1890s advertisement described Stanley’s snake oil as “A wonderful pain destroying compound.” It was “the strongest and best liniment known for the cure of” almost anything imaginable. As soon as they made their sale these healers would scadaddle out of town as quickly as possible before their customers had found out that they had only been sold a bottle of whiskey mixed with innate compounds for about fifty cents a bottle.

These peddlers of empty dreams are still with us today. They prey on those in our hedonistic culture who are seeking after instant pleasure and easy fulfillment. Even many in the church are not content to see the fruit of righteousness play out in their lives through the long haul in order to see God provide and bless them in time. They do not have the patience for that. So many look for the kind of shortcut that modern snake oil salesmen promise only to find failure in the midst of misleading assurances. And even as they heed the call of these modern marketers, the vast majority of them wind up with little more than a bottle of disappointment for their trouble.

Stay tuned for more!

The preceeding blog is an exerpt from Don Wigton’s book “Holy Wars.” Click here to purchase:

For free praise music, charts and study helps go to the Wigtune Praise and Worship Sitehttp//


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