The Dangerous Explosion of Celebrity Pastoring

There is only one solution to this dangerous and almost inevitable explosion; namely, daily grace.

Popularity. Celebrity Pastoring. Whatever you want to call it, it is a real danger. And I’m convinced it can be a danger to pastors who even preach in relatively small churches. You don’t have to be popular on a national scale to think of yourself as popular.

 

If opposition has hurt many, popularity has wounded more. –John Newton

If you’ve spent any time reading books on Christian ministry then you’ve likely read of your share of horror stories. Ministry is tough. The most difficult part of opposition is not the wounds that come from gospel enemies. The most cutting is when our wounds come from those who should be gospel friends.

I’ve read many books on how to get through the snares of gospel ministry. I’ve only read a couple which speak of the dangers which attend popularity. There are many books for pastors which tell you how to grow a church, how to be a successful small group leader, how to preach compellingly, and much more. Yet, there are only a handful of books which warn you of the dangers of being a popular preacher.

I’m far from celebrity but I have had some really neat opportunities. And I’ve preached sermons that were well received. I know the pride which threatened to well up in my heart on this relatively minor scale, so I think I know what Newton means when he says this:

But, alas! you cannot yet know what dangers popularity will expose you. It is like walking upon ice. When you shall see an attentive congregation hanging upon your words: when you shall hear the well-meant, but often injudicious commendations, of those to whom the Lord shall make you useful: when you shall find, upon a notice of your preaching in a different place, people thronging from all parts to hear you—how will your heart feel?

Popularity. Celebrity Pastoring. Whatever you want to call it, it is a real danger. And I’m convinced it can be a danger to pastors who even preach in relatively small churches. You don’t have to be popular on a national scale to think of yourself as popular.

Newton is correct there is a relationship between popularity and pride which is akin to fire and gunpowder:

…they cannot meet without an explosion, at least not unless the gunpowder is kept very damp. So, unless the Lord is constantly moistening our hearts (if I may so speak) by the influences of his Spirit, popularity will soon set us in a blaze! You will hardly find a person, who has been exposed to this fiery trial, without suffering loss.

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