Church Celebrity Deathmatch

Skye Jethani is my new favorite columnist/blogger.

If you’re wondering about the significance of my making this statement, then check out the last time I said that about someone (in that case, Eugene Robinson).

This time, it was the way he nailed my frustration with the Purpose personality-driven church model. His latest piece on the Out of Ur blog delves into the schadenfreude that compels members of the younger generation to snarkily reject the culture of celebrity, especially as it relates to churches. He likens it to the clay-animated carnage from the popular MTV show of years past:

They’re not alone. Other young church leaders are forgoing the traditional senior pastor model. They prefer a flattened structure with shared responsibility where a team, rather then an individual, has the steering wheel. Thus no one achieves celebrity status in the congregation. Even in next-gen churches with a visible leader there is a trend away from the “Senior Pastor” title. The reason is linked to the scary rate of failure seen among senior pastors. Like “Celebrity Deathmatch,” the evangelical church seems littered with the corpses of leaders who’ve been beaten beyond recovery.

I’m also part of a church that has seen its attendance decline, and some of it is due to an over-reliance on the people-skills of our charismatic (in all the best sense of the word) senior pastor. Lest anyone feel like I’m gossiping or murmuring my making such a statement, that’s a paraphrase of many things that I’ve heard directly from the pastor himself. It’s not an attack or a mea culpa, it’s just an observation.

I’m hoping that in the years ahead, we will be able to follow the lead of churches like Denver’s The Next Level church, which has chosen to change its leadership structure to something more team-based after their former pastor had to step down.

Hopefully Skye won’t let his head get too big from the kudos he is bound to receive for his post (and corresponding Leadership Journal interview, for which he is managing editor).

I didn’t just call him my favorite simply on the basis of that one story. I’ve read a lot of his stuff and been impressed each time.

But I must admit, I’m also attracted to the aesthetic visual of his last name. It’s so close to my first name, I feel like we’ve gotta be distant relatives or something. Plus, he’s got Indian heritage… I’ve got West Indian heritage… eh?

Okay, I’m reaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *