Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrity Preachers

That startling quotation from Kierkegaard in my last post obviously assumed that pastors/preachers belong to communities where relationship are close enough for them to be known personally. Within local churches they may preach not only by word but by the quality of their lives. Such communication is sometimes called "incarnational" - the enfleshing of truth and grace that is best expressed when Jesus "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us"(John 1:14). Though any preacher's living out good news is pock-marked by failures and disappointments, it nevertheless remains part of the high calling to preach.

I was interested to read in the latest edition of Christianity Today that some US mega churches with celebrity preachers are developing expansion plans in other states. They claim that their particular "brand" based upon a well-known preacher is well suited to reach unchurched people in far off places using satellite links etc. Now, there have always been celebrity preachers in the history of the church and undeniably they have a particular role especially in evangelistic preaching (I think of Billy Graham), or prophetic preaching (Martin Luther King).

But it remains vital that the bread-and-butter task of Jesus building comunities of local churches (with people like us) requires incarnational preachers who live close to their people. Very few will be "celebrities" but by the witness of their lives (with inevitable mistakes) and the truth of their words, the gospel is preached. This is a steep challenge - impossible without God's grace. That's why preaching is a high calling, isn't it?

1 comment:

DSS said...

Most congregants want a pastor that shepards and encourages, that knows them and that they can honestly talk and share thoughts and concerns. These are the near and dear pastors although those mega church pastors can be wonderful, they have very little time for the bulk of their congregation. I would rather have the shepard pastor in my local church.