There are a ton of celebrity preachers and televangelist today. I have been one to be critical of many of them at different times in my life. As I have gotten older, my approach to passing judgement on these celebrity preachers has changed. Unfortunately, our culture has maintained its constant criticism of them. Here are 3 reasons why it isn’t so wise to be critical of celebrity preachers.
1. You Don’t Know
Just because you got an email from Sister Ruth about some celebrity preacher doesn’t mean its true. Don’t be too quick to forward, post, or speak about a celebrity preacher and something they said because you likely don’t know the whole story. Did you hear him or her say it? Do you know the full context with which it was said? Do you fully understand what they were trying to communicate?
You could probably go look at the video stream or podcast and try to do your research about the statement. What will this accomplish other than you thinking negatively about someone who you don’t know, don’t interact with, and don’t have to sit under as your pastor?
One very common person I have heard criticized is Joel Osteen from Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. I’ve heard all sorts of negative conversations about Osteen. Most of the context is to critique he preaches a watered down Gospel, won’t preach on sin, and he is more of a motivational speaker than a pastor. Others say they are too “seeker-friendly” in their approach. This criticism is that we cater too much to the person.
To these critiques, you probably don’t know. Maybe the church has a robust small group program or some sort of discipleship program that just isn’t as publicized. Perhaps the televised service is geared more towards an audience of new believers while the earlier services are more deep in nature. In most cases where I hear or see someone be critical of a celebrity preacher, they are critical because it is easy when they really don’t know the whole story. You don’t know their heart, their call from God, and many times, the things mentioned above. So resist your temptation to worry so much about what that celebrity preacher is doing.
2. It Does No Good
Can you identify your criticism doing something good? In most cases, people vocalize their criticism rather than just keeping it too themselves. This can do such damage. The world loves to see the dirty laundry of the church. They somehow get pleasure in pointing out the flaws of the “bigoted” church that is so vocal about the sins of others. It makes for good news when a preacher falls in sin because they are a part of the larger church that always preaches on sin. Hypocrisy in the church is all to fun for the world to highlight. They don’t need your help to bash people in the church.
Instead of doing something positive, you could actually be directing people to go and check out the thing you think is wrong. You aren’t going to suddenly change that specific celebrity preachers mind. You might think in some way, you are helping others not to be led astray. Hate to burst your bubble but you are probably wrong on that. So don’t waste your energy worrying about that celebrity preacher.
3. The Bible Says So
I can’t stand heresy. There is a lot of it out there. Luckily, these false teachers aren’t my responsibility and I don’t need to worry about being their judge on judgment day. Neither do you. But even in the churches of these celebrity preachers, there are some elements that we can all learn from. In the case of Joel Osteen, regardless of what you think of him, he has successfully been able to draw tens of thousands of people into one building on a weekly basis to talk about Jesus. That is awesome! When I look at these massive ministries as a media professional, I like to see what they are doing with media and how I might learn from it. Theology aside, some of these celebrity preachers could teach all of us a thing or two about using media to communicate our message.
You may feel strongly that people need to hear about sin. I would agree with you. Sin leads to death. Without Christ, there is no forgiveness for sin and no potential for eternal life in heaven. I agree. Sometimes people don’t preach about the things we want them to. Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If you simply can’t find anything good to say or think about when you think about celebrity preachers, no problem. Just don’t say or think about them at all then.
Like I said before, I truly do hate heresy and I can’t stand listening to teachings that I feel are clearly contrary to scriptures. Boy is there a ton of that out there. But if we focus our attention on the negatives of others, we are using time and energy that we could be spending pointing people toward Jesus. What’s more important, griping about a celebrity preacher who drives a gold car OR sharing the love of Christ with someone? I love what Mark Lowry says. “Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin! I don’t have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you! Hating my sin is a full-time job . . . How about you hate your sin. I’ll hate my sin and let’s just love each other!”
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