Thursday, December 3, 2020

tired of celebrity pastors

the ministry of desiring god (desiringgod.org) has a platform called "ask pastor john" where john piper answers people's questions about theology, biblical interpretation, and life in general.  i submitted a question over a year ago, regarding a topic that had been digging at me for years.  it still is, actually.  

here's my question.  it's the only question i've ever sent in (and i never got a response).

Pastor John:

I have been living and working in the foreign mission field for many years. Most of our work is in areas of extreme poverty.

When I return stateside, I am always struck by the extravagant wealth of american "christians" and especially the swanky lifestyle of american pastors. Back in the old days, there seemed to be a much larger gap between the blatant prosperity gospel and the mainstream church. Today however, I can't help but notice that gap closing, as I see more "mainstream church pastors" living comfortable, suburban, country-club, if not flat-out lavish lifestyles.

I hate the prosperity gospel, whether blatant or subtle. I often find it sneaking into my own life and have to repent of it and eliminate it. It upsets my spirit so much that, nowadays, if I am encouraged by a bible teacher or christian author that I'm unfamiliar with, before I take their teaching at face value, I will look online to get a feel for their theology AND lifestyle. If I see they recently bought a million dollar mansion or wear $500 sneakers, for example, I dismiss their teaching and will completely avoid their influence.

I feel like I can defend my actions biblically, but I would love your opinion on this. I am so turned-off by pastors, authors, worship leaders, etc, whose own lives demonstrate the pursuit of material extravagance, luxuries, latest fashion, and so on. I mean, is there anything more dangerous for christians than for their "leaders/examples" to be mixing the gospel with a love and passion for the world? (1 Timothy 6:6-9)  I just feel like the whole hip-celebrity-pastor thing has gotten out of control.

Am I being judgmental or am I properly testing in order to discern what's good?

that was my question about an honest internal wrestling. i don't want to unfairly judge, but i can't deny the disgust in my spirit when i constantly come across these characters. 

the reason i am sharing this now is because i recently read something that john cooper, the lead singer for the band "skillet", posted on his blog.  i thought is was phenomenal and worth sharing.  i hope he doesn't mind, i'm just doing a copy/paste...

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Make Pastors Uncool Again, By John Cooper

Pastors shouldn’t be rock stars. Yeah I said it. A rock star promotes himself, builds his brand, and entertains people. It’s his job. A pastor is supposed to lay his life down for his sheep. He serves, he protects, and he equips the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). So why does it seem like many of our celebrity pastors are obsessively self-promoting, building their own brands, and protecting themselves by never preaching or teaching anything that would put them in Twitter prison? Yes, it’s sad and devastating to watch our leaders fall into sin, but when the foundation is built so poorly it shouldn’t be all that surprising. 

Many Christians have been saying this for years and its past time that I join them: I’m tired of celebrity pastors. Pastors aren’t supposed to be cool. They’re not supposed to be fashion trend setters. We are ALL called to decrease, that Christ would increase both in our hearts and in our lives (John 3:30). HIS fame should be known, not OURS. Celebrity Pastors, get out of the way! You’re hogging the spotlight by making yourself the story. Instead, you should be taking some hits on the front lines by stating clearly what God commands. Celebrity pastors seldom do this. Instead, most of what we hear is rhetorical gobbledygook, veiled mysticism, and repackaged new-age movement self-help promotional material disguised as the work of the Spirit. 

My pastor helped change my life in college. “Really, who?” Exactly. He remains faceless, nameless, and will never get the adoration of the world because his desire was for Jesus to have all of the glory. He taught me how to read and understand the Bible. He took my midnight phone calls, he instigated the necessary but uncomfortable conversations, he taught me the importance of sexual purity, and he even taught me how to paint a house and balance a checkbook. It almost sounds more like being a father, doesn’t it? Working, serving, teaching your kids and never expecting a “thank you” or a hand clap is what pastoring is all about. 

Pastors, I am thankful for you. Many are serving faithfully and you will be rewarded by God. But for the pastors who are receiving their reward on earth, I have a request for you: please stop looking for adoration from the world. We don’t need you to look “awesome”, we need you to be fearless and preach the gospel according to the unchanging, authoritative Word of God. Stop finding clever ways to evade questions. You know the ones—God’s commands about sexual morality, Gods authority structure in the Church and at home, God’s righteousness that demands punishment of sin. Answer them. And answer them clearly for heaven’s sake. Please stop trying to find new ways to explain the perceived inconvenient truths of God’s Word. You ought to love what He loves and hate what he hates. This used to be a prerequisite for church leadership. Today, its deemed radical and even bigoted. 

Play time is over. The battle is raging, and the field is full of wimps and boys who have never picked up a sword because it just “feels mean.” We need generals and leaders who don’t care about their brand, their look, their “likes”,  or making allegiances with the world. In short, it’s time to make pastors uncool again.

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wow!  couldn't agree more with john.  thankful he shared his thoughts on this topic...  

and i'll let you all know if i ever hear back on my "ask pastor john" question :) 



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