Joe Thorn says celebrity pastors have now become “a thing.”
The “celebrity pastor” is now a thing. Maybe it’s always been a thing (1 Cor. 1:10-17), but over the past few years it has become a source of concern and consternation for many. On the one hand I do see a problem, and on the other hand I can’t help but feel that some speak against popular preachers out of a sense of jealousy. I do not think that a pastor whose “platform” is large, influence is broad, and following is numerous is a celebrity pastor. At least, not in a bad way. The real problem is leadership that loses sight of the glory of Christ and focuses on the glory of man. Or, at least one man.
But Celebrity Pastors do not simply build themselves. They are built with the help of fans. It’s not wrong or idolatrous to get a photo with a person you admire. Nor is it dangerous to love the preaching or teaching of a particular leader. But at some point admiration turns into allegiance, and allegiance gives birth to adoration, and adoration, when it is full grown, produces idolatry. I am not sure exactly when the line is crossed–maybe when we start asking well-known pastors to sign our Bibles. Maybe. But the line is well behind us when a leader’s word is more valuable to us than God’s word and when they become our authority.