We live in an unusual day where anyone can be made famous for any peculiar thing. 20-30 years ago it took effort, it took a special gift, and a stroke of luck in many cases. Today it seems that anyone can be made into a sensation over night… from rags to riches, from shame to stardom. In the age of technology, reality TV, and YouTube popularity anything is possible I guess.
Just think about it, we have the Kardashian family who tend to always be in spotlight for seemingly no reason whatsoever, we also have reality TV stars who get recognized on a national level for merely living their “lives” on television. The world is full of large ego’s and people doing whatever they can to get their second of stardom… their moment in the spotlight.
So, how does this truth impact the church?
The “rockstar” or “celebrity” mentality has invaded the church like a plague and, for some reason, it has been embraced or accepted wholeheartedly. All around us there are celebrity pastors, authors, and worship leaders… people flock to their ministries, churches, or events just to hear them speak, to preach, or sing. Is this a bad thing? I would say not always. But, is this always a good thing? My answer to that would be definitely not.
With a large stage comes a large audience and a huge responsibility. How committed are we to stepping up to the plate on that task and delivering faithfully? We shouldn’t be scared of growth! It is a great thing! But we must be careful to keep our intentions in check. The truth is this: When it becomes more about advancing our desires, our goals, and our agendas than it does about advancing the Gospel then we know we have a MAJOR issue on our hands. When we are concerned more about the national spotlight than the community impact we have missed the mark somewhere along the way. Our “best seller” or multi-building church campus or complex is nothing but a statue to our accomplishments if our congregations are getting a watered down, “ear-pleasing,” form of the Gospel.
Here are a few things to keep in mind or ask yourself if you begin to become a “well-known” public figure… because we have said that it can happen to nearly anyone with almost no warning I today’s day and time.
- Respect or Idolatry?
Are we using our elevated platform to elevate ourselves… or Jesus? Are we demanding respect because of the things we are doing for Christ, or are we raising our own banner high to be worshipped? It’s a hard thing to distinguish. When we cause people to exalt us, or any other person, above God, we are leading them into idolatry. Stay humble. Keep your eyes on the prize. Worldly fame fades, but the Kingdom of the Lord stands forever.
- Who are we causing our congregations to follow?
People need leaders, and God has provided His church with leaders. How are we leading? Are we shepherding the flock and caring for the people within our community? Being a “celebrity” pastor will draw people in initially, but being a part of a community will keep them there. Are we causing people to follow us or are we pointing them to following Christ. Let’s face it, church isn’t about us, advancing our careers or goals, or even making a living for that fact. Sometimes the Lord blesses us with those things, but our focus must remain on Him through it all. We must ask ourselves… who are our congregations looking to? Who are they following? Us or Jesus?
- Sensation or Substance?
The Word of God isn’t popular. It doesn’t exactly cause or call people to be comfortable. Want to write a best-seller? Avoid deep theology and anything within it that hurts people’s feelings. Want to write a hit song? Keep it positive and upbeat, but don’t get deeper into the Gospel than surface level. I only say this to make this point: If we have to dumb down or sell out the Gospel to attain any level of success then that is a success that we shouldn’t want. Are we drawing people in because we sing or play so well? Are we bringing people in with our charisma and charming smile/personality? Or, is the Gospel so evident in our lives and words that people who desire substance want to be around us, to sit under our teachings, and to participate in our worship. We should never sell out substance and depth for experience or emotion. Let’s not cause people to succumb to our personalities, but rather let’s cause them to surrender to Jesus.
So… What have we learned? Is it wrong to have a desire to hear the words of a well-known “larger-than-life” pastor? Is it such a bad thing to worship along with the newest iTunes chart sensation? No! I would actually dare to see that we are wise to encourage people to seek out and learn from the best teachers, worship leaders, and theologians possible.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be well known for your ministry… if your intentions are correct. Just remember to ask yourself: what kingdom am I expanding? My kingdom? Or the Kingdom of God?