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Are “Superstar” Christian Personalities Hurting the Church?

  • John UpChurch What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • Updated Mar 09, 2018

Many a late night, prior to my becoming a follower of Jesus, my brothers and I had a special TV viewing habit, though usually only when nothing else was on. We would gather round the glowing box and watch some of the strangest creatures we could imagine: purple hair, heavily painted faces, magical hankies, and tears that splashed down on command. It was better than a nature documentary and easier to mock.

Where’d we find this strange show? On Christian TV stations. These larger-than-life, Christian-famous personalities delighted us (in a bad way) with the pomp and grandeur, expensive clothes and pleas for money. And as far as I can remember, we heard little—if any—gospel message, and certainly nothing that got through our laughter and ridicule at how phony it seemed.

Now that I follow Christ, I realize how fame and histrionics got in the way of the truth we so desperately needed to hear. This is what my brothers and I thought Christianity was: big names, big hair, big money.

Just as my past bears witness to, Bert M. Farias at Charisma News says that we Christians need to be careful of our motives when it comes to the speakers we listen to. Often, the smoke and flash makes it easy to miss the point:

“Just because someone or something is big doesn't mean it's godly (and it is also understood that bigness is not tantamount to ungodliness either). In fact, it's a greater test of our devotion to be big (whatever ‘big’ means to us) and yet remain holy, than it is to be small (whatever ‘small’ means to us) and holy. And let's not forget that smallness is not equivalent to godliness either. Discerning the difference between hype and holiness is what's important. But we are so often fooled by the "big" while being unaware and undiscerning of the ‘small….’

“The problem with today's generation is that we elevate the teachings of popular Christian teachers and we have a tendency to place greater value on them than the Scriptures. We elevate their charisma, their eloquence, their humor and wit, their style, and even their cuteness and good looks. We even sow our finances into the same.”

The truth is that Christ Himself went against these ideas. Everything about Him seemed “small” from a human perspective:

“Think about it. Our Savior was not born in a big metropolis, but in the small town of Bethlehem. And He grew up in the despised region of Galilee. He was not born in a palace where kings are, but in a lowly stable. The wise men had to really search and diligently follow the star to find Him. When Jesus entered into ministry, it is written that He had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). He did not have a ministry headquarters. He died a criminal's death on a cross, naked and nearly alone. His grave was a borrowed tomb. His throne was an invisible one hidden from the multitudes of those who were healed and delivered through His ministry. He was called meek and lowly; certainly not the description fitting for a king. But today, ministry is so different.”

Recently on, Tim Brister used the example of John the Baptist to show three ways we should use the platform God may give us in a “smaller” way:

“At every point, John the Baptist was saying, ‘I am not the point.’ He was the pointer. He used his platform to set the stage for One to come whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. John was not a stage hog. He did not lust for the limelight. In fact, he was so unseen he could only call him a voice from backstage (in the wilderness). You don’t see voices. John did not listen to the press or live for the praise of man.

What about you? Do you think big names and superstars get in the way of the gospel? What can we do about this all-too-human tendency to elevate someone?

John UpChurch is a contributor to, and