Star Pastors and Celebrity Preachers are losing touch and reconnecting

The struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle are real. He has been scrutinized by the internet, like many other celebrity preachers. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online like copying other people’s work, misusing church funds to increase book sales falsely, silencing anyone in church with the audacity to question him, and other things have caused Driscoll to tell his followers to stay off the Web.

Steven Furtick, another megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an finance guru focusing on evangelical churches, have been taking hits much like the preachers of reality TV shows. Against a backdrop of culture shifts creating headwinds against the leader-and-follower model that are typical from today’s Christian superstars, these accusations are not making their life any better.

Some media outlets have called Driscoll a “rock star” among other pastors. His personality takes on a life of its own, with a large doasge of Christian fundamentalism that is typical of the evangelical theology of their churches. Driscoll enjoys massive popularity. His Mars Hill Church attracts nearly 15,000 weekly with 15 campuses. His podcast has 250,000 regular listeners worldwide. His 2012 book, Real Marriage, topped the New York Times best-seller list for a short time. This book, some claim, took that spot through the use of church funds to inflate actual sales, about $200,000 in total. This is just some of the problems that plague a church that does not publicly disclose its funds. The line between preacher and rock star seems to be blurry in the realm of preachers in the modern world.

There’s a wild card that religious celebrities in the past did not have to contend with. Thanks to the Internet, any current or former follower can write a blog post, add nasty comments to forums or, voice a spoof Twitter account in a preacher’s name. This has taken a toll on those who seek to have fame in the modern world for being an influential preacher. Because of the rise of the Internet, “the audience is now at least as much of a celebrity as the pastor, if not more,” Jim Henderson, a Christian author and producer, said. He believes that the era of the celebrity pastor is going away. Henderson also produces a live show called Where’s God When. This show features a very different kind of celebrity pastor, perhaps representing the future. For now, however, people should be asking themselves where theur true loyalties lie. Are people following pastors? Are they following Jesus? It is still unclear.