Celebrity Culture in the Church

The anointing. It’s a phrase I heard a lot growing up. So and so ministers under such a great anointing, the anointing is in this place, the presence is in this place. So many phrases, so many buzzwords but what do these things mean? Presence, anointing, power?

I’m sure by now most have heard about the Ravi Zacharias scandal, the firing of Carl Lentz from Hillsong and the “weariness of ministry” getting to Perry Stone. What in the world is going on here!? Isn’t “the anointing” supposed to protect these guys. Let’s be honest, in the case of Ravi, there was no anointing present, his ministry was a sham and as far as we know he denied allegations up till his death. I pray for his victims, his family and those who worked for the ministry who were manipulated into believing the lie that he was a good man.

I have no desire to talk about these three men but to deal with underlying issues. I am thirty two years old and I have been charismatic most of my Christian walk. After having walked away from all of it I really began to examine things. Most of the leaders in the early movement and even many leaders today struggle with habitual sin. We can’t say but David because David repented and never committed adultery again. Read Psalm 51 and see the heart of repentance. David also lost the child birthed through Bathsheba.

Many leaders in the church today excuse sin. Holiness isn’t preached, practiced or expected. We have replaced pastors with wannabe celebrities, worship with concerts and sacraments with with sycophants. Young guys like me are conditioned to want to build a mega church, we’re encouraged to look up to a well known minister instead of our local pastor. It’s a crowd these days not a congregation. I’m ranting a bit but here’s where I’m going, what I thought was the anointing, it turns out most of the time it was just a guys ability to draw a crowd. If these guys truly had an anointing or a close walk with God, especially those in the charismatic and prophetic circles who are always going to heaven, there wouldn’t be adultery, drunkeness, etc. If you truly walk that close with God, there would be holiness of heart and life.

Oh that we would hear holiness preached again. We must reject the lie that holiness is legalism. We must reject the notion that God “understands our struggle”, no, call your struggle with lust what it is, sin. Call your drinking “problem” what it is, sin. Start using the word sin again. Call people to repentance. If you’re going to a church where you don’t hear about sin, repentance, salvation, holiness, sanctification and growth in godliness – get out and find a biblical church.

It’s time to ditch celebrity pastors, motivational talks, light shows and the idea that the Bible is about us. Why are we seeing all these scandals? Because wolves masquerade as shepherds and true shepherds have bought the church growth lie that we need to bring in the goats. It’s time for the church to be the church. Sing songs to God instead of songs about us. Preach the Bible, not your experience. Christian, study the Bible. Don’t be spoon fed by someone not even giving you the Scriptures. Look for a true pastor; a shepherd who preaches and teaches the Scripture. Someone you can actually know. Multi campus may be popular but we don’t have a biblical model for that and the Paul argument doesn’t work, he set pastors in place at every church he started. I know we make fun of the old school stuff these days; hymns, verse by verse preaching, no lights and pot lucks. Yes, every generation had its issues but as I look at the state of leadership in the church today, I think we’re here because we’ve abandoned our true mission. Oh, we say we exist to love God and love people but we aren’t by and large making disciples, we’re growing our churches brand, pastors are networking so they can turn their church into their ministry. It becomes less about the local congregation and more about the people online you don’t know. Instead of building your brand, build the Kingdom for real. Don’t “plant campuses” in other states. Send Pastors to start churches and take your hands off.

As a young guy, I confess, I wanted a mega church. I wanted to be the next guy to make a huge impact. Now, that just makes me sick. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a large church and not become a commercialized commodity. But to do that you have to stay focused on the text, know that God has given you a local congregation and if God chooses to bless you with more than that, let others handle it and continue being a pastor. As I look at things and I think back on what I’ve seen and what I used to want to be, I simply pray that by God’s grace I would remain humble. I’ve asked for my desires to change. I’ve known for years I was called to be a pastor, now I want that – for real. A local church where I know my congregation and they know me. I want to be a shepherd, not a hireling. I don’t want to always be looking for the next rung on the ladder or a bigger church. I’ve always desired that my first church be my only church. That I believe is right, I went wrong when I wanted to emulate the modern celebrity pastor culture that is glorified in much of the charismatic, prophetic, and evangelical movements of today.

3 comments

  1. It’s great that you don’t want a megachurch anymore; it’s harder to have true koinonia, among other things, in such an environment, as my wife and I experienced; we are now part of a much smaller church, but the koinonia is real, and the teaching is solid. I also appreciate your desire to remain humble.

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