The Culture of Pastoral Notoriety


Part 2 in the series – “The Pulpit and The Pew”

The number one thing rocking the pulpit with scandal after scandal in America, is the rock star status of celebrity pastors. From heresy to immorality, worldliness to apostasy, consumerism to greed, the culture of celebrity pastors is bringing the western church to its knees. It doesn’t matter if you pastor a mega church or a small church in your neck of the woods. Nor does it matter if you’ve written a book, air a television program of your own or have a just a few followers and fans. You can fall into the trap of desiring the status of “the next big thing” no matter where and who you are.

Who is a celebrity pastor?

The common mistake is to select big names, men or women whom God has apparently raised up as voices to this generation and brand them with a negative connotation. Another mistake is to pick on easy targets like those incredibly gifted to speak and lead, or those with a million plus Twitter followers or Facebook fans. This is not my angle here in this post.

I do appreciate men and women of God who “excel in doctrine and life” in the public square. I have deep respect for those who “exemplify ordinary virtues extraordinarily well” in our world. I love the idea that they are popular and represent the name of Christ well. I gladly celebrate their popularity and will imitate their godly lifestyle if they are audacious enough to say, “follow me as I follow Christ.”

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

I believe there is a difference between being a popular pastor and being a celebrity pastor. Reinhard Bonke and Billy Graham are very popular, but they are not celebrities. The late David Wilkerson and Mother Theresa were both very popular, yet, they we’re not celebrities. My definition of a celebrity pastor therefore, is as follows:

A celebrity pastor is:

Anyone who basks in the glory of his rock star status and takes pleasure in a lifestyle of fame, popularity, self-aggrandizement and narcissism. I use the term negatively to describe anyone who has forsaken modesty, humility, integrity, God’s mission and common sense for a lavished lifestyle of fame, fortune and worldliness.

A celebrity pastor is any pastor who has built or actively seeks to build a platform, a kingdom and a name with the intend of becoming famous instead of pursuing a mission to make Christ famous. Any pastor who models his lifestyle after the likes of those in Hollywood is a celebrity pastor. Any pastor who misuses his influence or affluence in carnal, unethical and sinful ways to promote self is a celebrity pastor. A celebrity pastor is narcissistic, entitled, loves the praise of men and is under a spell of idolatry.

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

The temptation to believe the hype and be carried away into pride, self-aggrandizement and idolatry when appreciated for our ministry is real.

Jesus resisted – when the crowds following him wanted to crown him their king. He rebuked a mother and her two sons and gave them a lesson in servant-hood. Paul warned about the dangers of pride when those in the church of Corinth began to debate about who was greater, better, more anointed. The entire new testament calls for humble servant leadership and discourages pastors from becoming prideful and carnal.

7 Distinguishing Marks

There are 7 distinguishing marks that should characterize the ministry of pastors in the public square. Whether we lead mega churches, write books, speak at big conferences, or lead a small congregation in the middle of no where, we should fight idolatry, consumerism and vain glory. We must seek:

Modesty/ Simplicity
Resist the temptation to live extravagant lifestyles – expensive cars, lavished mansions, $ 5000.00 suits, private jets. For the sake of the Gospel, dial it down.

Integrity
We must learn from the mistakes of those who have fallen into error, idolatry, lust, greed, have squandered their opportunity to change the world and glorify Christ.

Self control
We must deny our selves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Put to death every wish to exalt self, indulge self, and promote self.

Humility
We must resist pride. We must strip ourselves of arrogance. It’s not about us, it’s about making Him famous.

Servant-hood
We must resist chasing fame and becoming big shots. Devote our lives to the service of God, His church and His Kingdom.

Godly Witness
Whatever we do – do it to God’s glory. Use our platform or sphere of influence well – to honor Christ and witness to a lost and dying world.

Decency
It is one thing being well dressed and stylish, but another thing being stylishly inappropriate in the way we dress.

What can we do to change this culture?

Start a movement in your city

You are a pastor. You understand the power of servant-hood, humility, and simplicity. You care about fellow ministers and ministry best practice. Start a movement.

Get Satan out of our Pulpits

Satan has found a sweet spot and a foot hold in most pulpits around America, and he is using it to his advantage. It’s about time to cast him out.

Sound the alarm

It’s time to sound the alarm. It’s time to blow a trumpet in Zion. It’s time to raise up a banner of righteousness in our pulpits.

Stop feeding the ego of men of God

I don’t know if it started when Time Magazine put TD Jakes on their cover with the title, “Is the man the Next Billy Graham?” But I know it intensified the desire within pastors to crave the spotlight.

Unfortunately, Christian have fallen into this subtle form of idolatry. so the question in closing is – how can I appreciate my pastor and not tempt him to begin acting like a rock star?

 

16 responses to “The Culture of Pastoral Notoriety

  1. Sad, but true. It truly breaks my heart when I hear the negative impact this exact problem has on those trying to find Christ. It also takes so much patience to undo the spiritual hurt and abuse the sheep have endured when the nature of God has been misrepresented to them.

    Jesus, in his day, had an issue with the ‘church’ for basically the same problem…..
    Great post on a topic that needs a voice…
    Blessings to you sir
    JC

  2. You are so welcome my brother. Just keep up the good work. The Lord has a blessing with your name on it. I will use the words of one of the Mother’s of my Church use to always say, “SON JUST KEEP ON KEEPING ON!”

  3. Thanks a million for the comment… I feel very deeply about this subject and would like to read what you have written about it. See you on your blog!

  4. Pingback: An unmentioned sin | The Alternative Ulsterman·

  5. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content’ (1 Timothy 6:6–8)

  6. There are lots of leaders who are using their status as an effective spiritual leader to make a lot of money, and accumulate a lot of money, and look like they have a lot of money.. It happens on twitter every minute of the day.

  7. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9)

  8. My dear brother in Jesus Christ The only thing that I can add to this is simply AMEN!

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