How many more evangelical celebrity figures have to shoot themselves before the church industry stops putting men and women on stages and the rest of evangelical fandom stops putting them on pedestals.
This time it was Darrin Patrick. Eight months ago — the news broke on Suicide Awareness Day — it was Jarrid Wilson. Which itself ‘follow[ed] a number of high-profile suicides among pastors’ one news report said.
Accounts of such deaths are invariably filled with cliché and bromides from other ‘top’ (that is, famous) evangelical ‘leaders’, usually of a megachurch or some organization — ministry, in Christianese — that has become a dominant — or even a solitary ‘go-to’ — for whatever area one has a ‘need’.
- Financial woes? … Dave Ramsey.
[the late Ron Blue was the prior Christian gen’s go-to guy on this.]
- Professional development? Michael Hyatt, of course.
- Masculinity? Hmm … Promise Keepers, then John Eldredge, then …
- Marriage? There were those weekend seminars … oh, still are? New name, though, right?
- Parenting? Well, usedta was Focus on the Family; my kids are grown so I guess I’m not sure on this anymore.
Factly, I’m so blessedly not ‘plugged-in’ [connected … circling back … echoing … resonating with … coming alongside of … in this season … for such a time as this … ] contemporary evangelicalism that I just do not know who the top evangellyfish* are these days
I do know all ‘-isms’ of any kind are where ideas go to seed, and not the good kind …
Christians worship celebrity and turn average (that is, flawed) people into ‘rock stars’ as often and as badly as every other affinity group.
Must be something in the water.
Our plan is not working.
The problem isn’t the tendency to turn ordinary folk into celebrities; that is so widespread, so everywhere that it’s definitely in the water — the water of our cells, the water covering 70% of the planet, in the water we drink and the air we breathe.
The problem is we don’t do anything to stop it.
Do we need megachurches? Did we ever?
Because all the cool kids outside the church had them [under different names, a’course].
Patrick, discussing his departure a few years back from a common kind of prominent role in this farce, said his ‘fall’ had come in part due to all the pressure of being a leader — you know, that crafting image work [called ‘branding’ outside the Church, and sometimes in it], and how ‘you have to have a social media presence.’
Couldn’t you pastor a church with a couple hundred people in it, over time get to know the families pretty well, never let a church grow to more than, say, 1,000 — and even that’s too high; 300 to 500 would be better — and have a different building on t’other side of the county, for those folks.
And so on, and so on.
It’s not just that I’m not plugged in; it’s that I’ve been paying some attention, and aping the world’s mode — churches as arenas, pastors as ballers, ‘worship’ leaders who are Christians so ‘lead guitarist’ is a non-starter — is a bad plan.
Which, I may’ve mentioned, isn’t working.
Proof of this comes in the reports every time one of these sad men, it is usually the men, kill themselves.
Even in the article they are elevated.
With Patrick, for instance
- One commenter said he’d cried more in the last 24 hours (hearing of his friend’s death) than he had in 24 years. This is metaphor of course — hyperbole for effect … at least one hopes. But why’s there a felt need to be over-the-top? Have anything to do with a constant need to be over-the-top? And that one is speaking to an outlet for disseminating information on a global scale?
- One very prominent guy indeed, check the link, said Patrick wdnt in his return to pastoring following more than two years of work of restoration and repentance — an excellent thing — have called himself a ‘success story’ … quite right. The question is, why wd anyone who knows, truly knows, of sin and redemption, like say a very prominent guy, any Christian who’s sinned and suffered ever use that term? Why is it even a question as to whether he is one or not? None of are.
- Patrick at one point said he was part of a group of young pastors offered all kinds of bling — ‘book deals, speaking gigs, fame and money’ — but they were too immature to handle it. Then why oh why were they pastors? The immaturity noted was the general spiritual kind, not immature as pastors, which young ones a’course would be — and wd be expected to be. Perhaps instead of book deals and the ‘gigs’ at high-profile conferences (as unneeded as megachurches), we could offer them mentors?
And why in the hell — I mean that quite literally — would there be any such thing Patrick could refer to as ‘fame and money’? Oh, right — bec that’s what we do offer young and immature sports stars, for instance.
Why was Patrick ‘spending a lot of energy creating and sustaining’ his image? WTF?
One anecdote in the article quoted someone who said he still called a query Patrick used to offer prospects … that is, real live people who didn’t seem yet to follow Christ … ‘the Darrin question’. This is the one that goes ‘How’s that workin’ out for ya?’
First, this zinger is another cliché. It’s extremely common and it has been for years.
Second, it’s not particular good. Unless it’s asked in earnest, ‘So … hey, truly, tell me how that works for you, what it looks like in the life you want?’ — which wd be just fine — it implies the person isn’t terribly bright.
Third, lots of Christians can tell of how life often seems to suck as they try to follow Christ and plenty of pagans wd be perfectly happy, and happy to discuss why they’re happy.
Both parties in the previous paragraph cd be mistaken but the query in question is not especially cogent.
It’s simply clever and glib or was at one time.
That plan isn’t working, either.
* evangellyfish: creature cruising along just
below the surface of the water, spineless,
smells fishy, prone to lash out when poked,
stinging anything it comes in contact with,
hasn’t evolved one tittle in 10 billion years.
Image: Wikipedia; ToBeDaniel