I have binge-listened to your entire playlist, then listened to all of the episodes again!! Thank you for putting words to some of the things I have felt! Here’s a fun story for you…
I grew up in an independent Baptist church in the north, so my church experience growing up was a lot more stoic than a lot of the preaching heard in the clips you share. My church was a bit more laid back as well: ladies wore skirts/dresses to church, but pants everywhere else; we were not KJV-only, though that is what was used; we had piano/organ and hymns during services, but some people listened to Steve Green, Michael Card, etc., in their homes; I went to movies but I didn’t broadcast it.
HOWEVER, we had a Baptist camp in town that served a pretty large area. As teenagers, we were strongly encouraged to work at camp all summer. The camp brought in evangelists of every style, including some that sounded an awful lot like the clips you post. This is where my story takes place.
My friends and I had been working at camp all summer long and had responded to quite a few invitations to rededicate our lives to the Lord, pledge to continue with daily devotions, etc. In other words, we had “gotten right” with the Lord in every way we could think of. One evening during a teen week later in the summer, the evangelist preached a fire-and-brimstone message and challenged every teen to come forward and finally get right with God. He also had us all keep our eyes open because we needed to be willing to make this decision in front of our peers.
In the first few verses of the invitation song, lots of kids went forward. We sang more verses. The evangelist kept on and on. More kids went forward. After endless verses, the front of the chapel and the aisles were packed. The only kids left in the pews were my three friends and myself. That preacher focused all of his energy directly at us. The pressure to go forward was STRONG! But my friends and I were good kids who honestly believed there was no more standing between us and God. Going forward would have been just bowing to pressure, not a genuine call by the Holy Spirit.
I am so thankful that God gave us discernment and strength to stand up to the emotional manipulation that was laser-focused at us from a “man of God” that we were supposed to be submissive to. That night, we denied that evangelist the feather in his cap of 100% teens coming forward, and I am glad.
After I graduated high school, I attended a fundamental Bible college that I’m sure you have heard of. While there, I was exposed to more of fundamentalism: KJV only, forced soul winning (I HATED that), wearing only skirts/dresses everywhere (yet the guys didn’t have to look weird), no CCM or movies allowed, etc. I was also 2nd-rate because I was a public school kid. Being hit full in the face with all of that really challenged me to take a look at everything.
I have since left the Baptist denomination (and I will never return), but I have kept my faith and am now serving in a community church. It has been a long process of throwing out the nasty bath water without losing the baby. Thank God that He has continued to shine His light into my life, exposing what needs to be kept and what needs to be discarded. Unfortunately, so many of the kids I grew up with have completely turned from their faith. It truly grieves my heart. I pray that God will pull them back to Him.
Thanks again so much for your podcast. It has been ministering to my heart, and I am thankful for you. God bless!