The Age of the Celebrity Pastor

It seems to me that we live in an age where anybody can be a star through all this social media that allows everyone’s voice to be heard. You can rise to fame (and many have) through Youtube, or by networking on Facebook or Twitter. It’s the ultimate democratization of information. Because of this ability, we have an entirely new class of celebrity, which we commonly refer to as “online celebrities”. There are subsets of those online celebrities, and one of them, is the “celebrity pastor”.

There’s some very legitimate uses for social media. The point of this is not to condemn social media, per se, but rather to examine our role in it as Christians and especially for pastors, who more actively represent the Gosepl. There’s a big difference between a pastor who uses social media to communicate with his congregation and encourage them and the pastor who runs ads for his Facebook page just to get a “Like”.

There’s a point where the obsession with social media becomes a little more than fun. By it’s very nature, social media plays to narcissism. It’s all about what’s going on with me, in my life, and what I’m doing. Of course, as Christians, we need to do our best to actually contribute to the community we are apart of. (Side note: If you’re looking at a prospective girlfriend/boyfriend, it’s very informative to look at their social media activities to see whether they contribute or consume.) It’s easy to slip into a pattern of putting forth a constant stream of self-centered status updates and mini-blogs. This goes hand-in-hand with our consumer culture, where a single status update becomes an informational tidbit to be consumed.

When a pastor approaches social media, he needs to be aware of this culture of narcissism and consumerism. It is incredibly easy to seek the followers and the “likes” simply for the number value, and soon, the pursuit becomes less about the Gospel and more about celebrity status. I’ve seen plenty of pastors’ pages that were full of random little nuggets of wisdom and rarely mentioned Jesus. This kind of “social supply” lends itself to self-reliance instead of Christ reliance. It’s easy to start attracting the followers because of what you as a pastor can do for them (or what it seems you can do for them) rather than what Christ can do.

The point is, as with everything else, social media needs to be approached cautiously. Pastors especially need to be wary of the dangers so that their social media activities do not become a seeker-friendly sideshow wherein Christ gets lost in the messaging. Christ is the lord of Facebook, too. Make it about Him.

What are your thoughts?




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