Without a doubt, we live in a celebrity culture.
It’s interesting that we can be fascinated with people we’ll never meet and who likely have little desire to meet us. But we are.
And in the last decade, celebrity culture has taken hold in the church.
The burning question: is it good for us?
This is So First Century
Well, actually, before we get too far into the conversation, realize that none of this is truly new.
The Apostle Paul struggled with a first century version of a celebrity culture. Self-admittedly, Paul wasn’t the best speaker, and it seems the early Christians were eager to declare their loyalties to the apostles that they considered the best leaders/speakers—even to those who hadn’t invested nearly as much in the local church as Paul had.
A brimming popularity contest among church leaders is written all over 1 Corinthians 1-3 and significant sections of 2 Corinthians.
As long as there have been people, there has been the desire to assign loyalty to whomever you ‘like’ best.
How the Interwebs Changed Things
Fast forward to our day. Not only have we become a consumer culture, but we’re able to access media and personalities instantly and constantly.
Remember that just over a decade ago—back in the 1990s—you used to have to work to hear another pastor preach.
You’d have to drive to his or her church. Or buy a CD (or cassette…gotta love those tape ministries) and wait for the product to be delivered in the mail. Few people bothered.
But with the rise of broadband, wifi, podcasting and smartphones, suddenly it became possible to listen to both your local pastor (or worship leader) and the best preachers (or worship leaders) on the planet. For free. Anytime of the day or night. Any week. Every week.
And millions of people have.
The unspoken reality is that almost every local church leader is now being evaluated not against last week, but against the best communicators on the planet.