I hate to speak against the Church or various movements within the Church, but I have to admit that it has always bothered me to see the way many pastors seem to set themselves up as “rock stars” within their congregations and within the Christian world. And sometimes it’s not that they set themselves up as rock stars, but it’s their churches or Christians in general who elevate them to that status.
I am happy that these pastors and ministries often win souls to Christ. At least the message of the good news of Christ is being proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18). That is why I normally don’t speak against others or write blog posts like this.
However, in the past few weeks we’ve seen the sad events unfold around the indiscretions of Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and this has renewed my concerns about this approach to Christianity. Let me say here that I am not trying to say that Mark has sought that rock star status. I have no way of being able to discern his motives. He has clearly done many great things for God’s Kingdom and has rescued many souls along the way. And I don’t believe the last chapter has been written for his ministry.
I just feel like pastors, ministries, churches, etc. that have a rock star mentality are extremely vulnerable to Satan’s attacks, and there is a huge risk of hurting a lot of people who are watching. The rock star model for ministry leadership is certainly not a healthy, sustainable approach.
Jesus never set Himself up as a rock star. If anyone could have done so, it would have been the Son of God. But that was not his approach. No laser light shows, no smoke machines, no tour buses. Jesus modeled servanthood, humility, and sacrifice.
Consider the most amazing sermon that has ever been delivered on this side of the universe: The Sermon on the Mount. Here are a few snippets that contrast greatly with the rock star mentality that we see so often today:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Later in the same sermon, Jesus rebukes those who do their spiritual work in order to be seen and honored by men. Ponder His words here:
1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 Therefore do not be like them.
Likewise, Paul also echoed this humble approach. For instance he made these statements to the believers in Philippi:
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
My hope is that pastors and churches and ministries will work to make Christ the true Star of their ministries. Self-promotion needs to go. Celebrity status should be rejected.
Pastors, resist the seductive lure of fame and popularity. Do not allow people to lift you up, and certainly do not engage in self-promotion. Work to become invisible so that others can see Christ through you.
Church members, avoid the tendency to elevate Christian leaders to rock star status. They are simply people, just like you.
For another interesting twist on this subject check out this podcast by Brant Hansen here (Brant and Sherri).
By the way, I’d love to hear your comments about this subject. Do you agree with me here? Disagree? Let me hear your feedback!
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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)
Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)
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