Celebrity preachers: A good or bad thing?

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thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
When I think of all the celebrity preachers out there I cannot help but hear in the back of my mind Paul scolding the Corinth church about how they latched onto a particular preacher and how this was detrimental to the church. Now one of the positives of celebrity preachers is they are able to get the Word of God out to a larger audience and have a platform that most preachers will not. One of the big negatives of celebrity preacher is often times congregations with compare their local church preacher to their favorite celebrity preacher and this often leaves the members disappointed and and the local preacher discouraged or people will consider these celebrity preachers their pastor and abstain from the local church. We in reformed circles often criticize general evangelicalism for its many pitfalls but on this issue I think almost as bad in reformed circles as general evangelicalism. I meet reformed people who seem to listen almost exclusively to a particular preacher and almost treat his teaching "pope" like. I will not mention names but one reformed preacher in particular seems to have this type of following. Now I am sure the preacher does not seeks or endorses this type of following. I wish some of these reformed celebrity preachers would address this issue and denounce it. If they have I would love to see or hear this, so please put a link. Please do not take this as me being judgmental. Rather it is just an observation and one that I myself can struggle with if not careful. It is easy for us to get on a bandwagon and make it more about the messenger rather than the message. Thoughts?


For His Glory-
Matthew
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
I have been exercised about this for many a year. There seems a flavour of the month
mentality with us Christians. The first one I can remember invited to our town was Al
Martin over 40yrs ago, and then the flavour changed to a new kid on the block. The most recent over
the last few years in Wales has been Joel Beeke. Whilst I would not disparage the speakers, I can't help feeling
that the thinking behind the importation of "celebrities" is, that a name will do something that the local
Churches have failed in. Another aspect that has been noted, is that such circuit speakers come by invitation into church situations of differing doctrines and therefore have to be careful how they tread.
Please don't think that my remarks are to demean the preachers, but it would be more beneficial I
believe if the local congregations were more burdened in prayer for their Pastors, who in season and
out of season labour in the vineyard with not much encouragement.
 

Puritan Scot

Puritan Board Freshman
it would be more beneficial I believe if the local congregations were more burdened in prayer for their Pastors, who in season and
out of season labour in the vineyard with not much encouragement.

Amen brother.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I guess it depends on how you define celebrity. If you mean someone who bends the truth around to keep people happy, it is an abomination. If you mean someone who labors in Christ's church to preach all of the word and gains a good reputation among believers for doing so, than that person is a blessing to the whole church. I shy away from those who in their careers have mostly worked apart from the church, but someone whose reputation has been gained in the pulpit, is a huge blessing. Jonathan Edwards would be in this category even prior to the time of online streaming and easy travel.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not sure what you mean by celebrity. There are more than one way to put a pastor on a pedestal
I've seen problems on both ends of the spectrum. Large church and small.
Large or small, it's a very bad sign when they surround themselves with rubber stamp people

In a more general sense, not opposed to a celebrity being used for something but there are warning in the New Testament about 'not a new convert'
Also are you trusting God or trusting worldly methods?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
It is a mistake to criticize a man simply because, by his faithful and insightful ministry, he has earned a good and widespread reputation. This sometimes happens with gifted ministers, and God can use it to help his wider church. There is a danger, of course, that this can breed the trappings we often associate with celebrity: shallowness, self-agrandizement, adoration from followers. Preachers who find themselves in such a position ought to take a cue from John the Baptist, who constantly pointed his adoring followers away from himself and to Christ even as he kept preaching to the crowds who came to hear.

I wonder if the better question is: What should a local pastor do if he finds his congregation is paying more attention to a celebrity preacher than to him? I suspect that such a pastor needs to focus on the personalized, present ministry only he can provide. There's no way the distant, celebrity preacher can outdo the local pastor in visitation, personal counselling, one-on-one prayer, etc. The local pastor should refute the celebrity preacher only if that preaching is in error, and otherswise humbly rejoice that his flock is being encouraged in the gospel, even if it isn't happening in perhaps the most preferable manner. Phil. 1:18 comes to mind. "In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice."
 

thistle93

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not so much criticizing the preachers who find themselves in a celebrity position. Rather I am cautioning those who cling to them and many times exclusively to one in particular. Though again I would like to hear some of these pastors warn people about the dangers of following them exclusively and for them to remind their listeners about the importance of their local pastor, who is a gift to them from the Lord. Often times it is not just the message but the style that people attach to. I believe this was much the problem in the Corinth church. Again I do not think Paul would approve of this type of attaching oneself to a particular preacher. I think this problem could even apply if someone follows exclusively a preacher who is not well known. So maybe the problem is not so much the "celebrity" part (some could do the same thing with their local pastor) but the "exclusivity" part of the follower that is the issue, though it seems more prevalent to preachers who are well known. None of this means that we cannot have pastors outside the church who we enjoy listening to (I know I do) but they are to be seen as a supplemental diet to that which we get in our local church.

For His Glory-
Matthew
 
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