Summary: Paul’s Levels of Persuasive Power in the Presentation of the Gospel - Acts 26

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Paul’s Levels of Persuasive Power in the Presentation of the Gospel - Acts 26

On the vertical scale we want to look into the levels of how people speak about the case studies. While some people may speak with a high level of emotional involvement others may speak with a detached sense of calm. The tone of voice tends to determine about 35% of what we understand by another’s message. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand how to control the tone of our voice, but also the approach that is taken through the interpersonal interactions.

1. Reserved Level - At this level it would really be unfair to call the case study interactions a discussion. We have all been involved with group meetings where a chairman tends to dominate the conversation while rarely pausing to see if their are any major objections from the members. I remember being in a board meeting recently where the chairman launched into a 30 minutes dogmatic presentation of his view on an issue. Afterwards, the group seemed unwilling to respond except to say, "Thank you Mr. Chairman!" Even though the leader of the group gets to feel that he maintains control of the discussion, few lasting impressions are made. The Reserved level is often used by the authoritarian leader who is incapable or unwilling to engage in exchange of ideas. At this level, the leader comes to the meeting with his preconceived notions about how issues will be resolved and is seldom willing to listen to any other side of the issues. Unfortunately, many of the members quickly become demoralize and end up with apathetic attitudes toward their involvement in these kinds of group meetings. Without the ability or willingness to be transparent and open to the ideas of others, groups will quickly die. However, there are times when the Reserved level is necessary when someone becomes critical on sensitive issues. Even the apostle Paul assumed a sense of Reservedness when he came under severe attacks by the Jews. Acts 21:10-14:

"When Paul heard about Agabus’s prophecy of his impending persecution in Jerusalem, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord’s will be done."

At times it is necessary for the chairman to move the purposes of God ahead, even when everyone else is in disagreement. In those rare times, when we are compelled to go against the corporate desires of the Spirit led leaders, let us be sure that we are doing the will of God rather than our own plans. A case study discussion needs a leader who knows when to use his powers to command, but not to remain so high minded that the meeting becomes completely didactic.

2. Normal Level - Wise case study leaders learn to use the cultural norms of each group. Whereas one group will be more accustomed to having the leader dominate the discussions other groups prefer to allow each group to have equal opportunities to offer their opinions. What is normal depends on the people’s background, conditioning, and levels of education. The more traditional the people in the group, the less likely they will feel open to share their articulated ideas freely. The more formally educated your participants the more you will need to allow for time to discuss various aspects of the case studies. Paul found that the Jewish leaders expected him to obey the purification rites without questioning their authority, which he did in Acts 19. However, when he went to Corinth he found the people much more free to debate issues so he writes in normal conversational language for the Greek trained thinkers:

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