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Celebrities and Celebrity Pastors Make for a Circus Instead of a Church

Children leading children. That was the initial thought that ran through my mind as I read New York Magazine's expose on the celebrity pastors who are helping shape Hollywood. My subsequent thoughts steered more to concern over the potential damage being wrought in the name of Christ to American evangelicalism by celebrities and their celebrity pastors.

The long article (linked to above), written by Allie Jones and titled "A Guide to the Evangelical Celebrities and Pastors Dominating Hollywood," provides background information about four celebrity pastors. Included among the information is the list of celebrities currently connected to each pastor and celebrities that have been connected in the past. For example:

[Carl] Lentz popped up in the tabloids again in January, when TMZ and People reported that he was personally offering Christian couples counseling to Bieber and Gomez, who briefly reunited at the end of 2017. Sometime after Bieber and Gomez broke up in March, however, Bieber and Lentz had a “major falling out,” according, again, to TMZ. … Lentz has plenty of other celebrities to minister to, thank God. Bieber’s ex-girlfriends Gomez and Baskin Champion,remain, by all accounts, devoted followers of the church. Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been photographed attending services, as have several NBA players including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (Lentz played college basketball and has been the chaplain for the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets). Lentz may not get to officiate Bieber’s wedding, but he could do the honors for Hillsong follower Nick Jonas, who just got engaged to Priyanka Chopra.

Besides Carl Lentz—of Hillsong and Justin Bieber fame—Jones explains the celebrity connections of Chad Veach, who pastors Zoe Church in L.A.; Russell Wilson's pastor Judah Smith; and Rich Wilkerson, Jr. who officiated Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding. There is even a chart to help the readers keep track of who's connected to whom. Justin Bieber is in the middle of the chart, with the four pastors making the ends of a cross around him.

As the kids say, I ain't mad at the article. In fact, to be fair, Allie Jones wrote an engaging article. Besides, it's not her fault that many professing Christians have shied away from taking actual stands and have instead pursued the "American Dream" at the expense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Many seem to have jettisoned "take up your cross and follow me" for a slavish devotion to pop culture.) American Christians worship celebrities as much, if not more, than their secular counterparts. Jones' article is merely a reflection of the tepid faith and compromised commitment to Jesus expressed within large segments of American evangelicalism.