Recently, Carl Lentz was fired from his church due to moral failures. He was the pastor at Hillsong NYC. He posted on Instagram that he was leading “out of an empty place” and was “unfaithful to in his marriage.” Lentz is one of several high-profile pastors who have been fired or had to step down for a variety of reasons. My heart breaks for him, but especially his wife, children, and the church who looked to him as a shepherd.
Lentz had an incredible platform to proclaim the Gospel in NYC. He was on Oprah. NBA All-Star Kevin Durant attended Hillsong NYC. Lentz walked with Justin Beiber as he works out his faith. Lentz is another in a long line of celebrity pastors who are fired because of moral failures. This includes Ravi Zacharias, Bill Hybels, James MacDonald and the list could go on and on. There are plenty of non-celebrity pastors fall from grace because of unchecked ego and sin. There is something in our culture (especially American Christianity) that loves to elevate Pastors/Leaders to celebrity status. It seems from my vantage point from afar that there is often little accountability for these pastors/leaders to steer them back when the begin to stray and too little humility to allow pastors to be held accountable.
Pastors make the news for all the wrong reasons. One wonders if pastors should be making the news at all. Recently, video was posted of a pastor in Missouri preaching about how women were not “hot enough.” At best, there is nothing in the Bible that addresses this- at worst, this is spiritual abuse. My point is this, whether it is a celebrity pastor, like Carl Lentz, or a pastor I’ve never heard of making some off-the-wall claims or teaching, it makes the role of a pastor and the ministry we have been called to even more challenging. I even struggle with my call in light of the negative examples in the news.
We need more boring pastors. This doesn’t mean we need boring preachers- I don’t believe that preaching should be boring because God’s Word is alive. We don’t need boring teachers- because nothing is worse than a boring Bible study. What I mean is that we need pastors who are committed to their communities over platforms. Pastors who keep their noses in the Word of God and their knees connected to the floor in prayer. Pastors who will allow others to hold themselves account and who practice humility over fame. Pastors committed to cultivating the slow process of spiritual growth and discipleship within their community rather than seeking to grow a megachurch.
We also need churches filled with Christians who desire boring pastors who are committed to slow, deep, and meaningful kingdom work. We must be committed to the long game. The other day, I had a congregant ask me when I was going to “set the church on fire” by filling the pews. In their mind, successful ministry looks like “butts in the pews.” I would love to see our church filled with people. Even more, I want to be a pastor who can shepherd our community into a deep, abiding, and meaningful faith in Jesus Christ that helps us, and others, make sense of the world we live in.
Over the last few months, I’ve prayed for Lentz and others who have become caught up in the celebrity pastor scene. It’s made me repent of my own tendencies to desire a greater platform to be known under the thinly veiled guise of preaching the gospel. I’ve had to repent of my own pride when it feels good to have someone compliment my preaching or my teaching in Bible study. I repent, because there is a side of me that wants to be a flashy pastor. I repent, because I know that I’m called to be a boring pastor committed to shepherding the community God has called me to.