Celebrity or Community?

I have something really deep I wanted to share with you today. Are you ready for this? This is profound:

“You can’t dance without a body.”

That is why one of the things I love about dancing is the orchestrated symphony of “Synergy” that is on display for all to see. It shows you the power of a body that is working together in holy harmony. Which is what synergy is by way of definition, right? “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

But so often, in the American church in particular, we see just the opposite. Instead, we see “the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.” That is, we see far more people than we see power. And there is a reason for this.

It’s what this fella by the name of Shane Hipps calls the papacy of celebrity.”

He wrote about the growing craze of this celebrity pastor/leader addiction that is plaguing the modern Christian church when he said (and I quote)…

“In this form of Christianity…only a preacher with a golden tongue has authority to preach the gospel. Like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, only the larger-than-life giants, painted by pixilated light, hovering above the congregation, possess these elusive talents.”

The pastors or leaders become the ones who dance, and everyone else comes to watch them perform. It breeds a mindset (or worldview) that only the power pastors or the titled leaders are qualified to do the works of the ministry and everyone else must sit and watch them flex their muscles.

I call this kind of dance in the church “bobblehead” dancing, because the body can stay stationary and static while the leaders essentially headbang for the Kingdom. It doesn’t breed a culture of community…it breeds a culture of celebrity.

These days, going to church can be like going to a conference. It’s a stellar showcase of theatrics and theology spliced together in a fluid and seamless way that services you and suits you perfectly, giving you your moneys worth and so much more. People sit in the seats and enjoy the show…the showcase, the showmanship.

Churches even send their pastors to conferences to learn how to be better at what they do so that the church can grow bigger and bigger. It’s an easy logical misstep. It goes something like this… “The better the pastor, the bigger the church.” But this is not the biblical model of a healthy church. This is more akin to idol worship.

And I write this today as an…


1. a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.

2. a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.

We must rise up as iconoclasts and speak against this dwarfed and retarded perspective of the church…

It is false, and Paul adamantly spoke of this in Ephesians 4:11-13 when he set up the missional ministry model for the church. Check out how he viewed leaders and their responsibility in the church…

Ephesians 4:11-13

11It was he (God) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Paul is saying here that “Pastors” are not to be the primary doers of the ministry. They are to be training people to be the agents of service.

According to this passage, it’s to build people up so that the church can experience two critical things:

1. Unity

2. Maturity

It’s not about having a pastorless church or a leaderless body. It’s not a free for all where everyone does what’s right in his own eyes. No, that’s Anarchy…what Paul is zealously affirming is the power of a Committed Community.


In Theology this community affirmation is called “The Priesthood of Every Believer”

It is this doctrine that Martin Luther addresses in his 1520 article called, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, in order to dismiss the medieval Christian belief that Christians were to be divided into two classes: "spiritual" and "temporal" or non-spiritual. Or Clergy and Laity. He put forward the doctrine that all baptized Christians are "priests" and "spiritual" in the sight of God. He wrote and I quote:

That the pope or bishop or pastor anoints, makes tonsures, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, may make a statement or an idolatrous oil-painted icon, but it in no way makes a Christian or spiritual human being. In fact, we are all consecrated priests through Salvation, as Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9 says,

1 Peter 2:9

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.


Revelation 5:10 -"Through your [Christ’s] blood you have made us into priests and kings."

The Priesthood of the Believers. It’s no longer about the watching and listening to the prophets, priests and kings who have this exclusive relationship with God and then stand in front of us high and exalted to tell us what he said. We all have a backstage pass…we all have privileged access to the whole of God’s heart and presence. We have been invited to be the representatives of God.

And pastors are to equip the ordinary, everyday people to carry the workload…they are to be the ones training the community to be the servants who meet each others needs…because…

It was he (God) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service…”


God’s purpose has always been to give the “power to the people”…to hand over the ministry to them. That’s why one of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Acts 4:13. It is a scripture where the everyday fishermen were released as uneducated pastors…

Acts 4:13 -

13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Aren’t you glad it didn’t say…

Acts 4:13

“When they saw the showmanship of Peter and John and realized that they were seasoned, ordained theologians, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been to seminary.”

-God doesn’t primarily use the ordained; he is looking for the ordinary.

-God isn’t looking for the scholastic luminaries; he is looking for the unschooled.

There’s always been a bent toward the church being defined by the personality of the pastors and/or leaders. Even in the early church there were spiritual leaders called Super-apostles.

“Super-apostles” – a term Paul gave to these supposed super-servants of God.

Paul talked about them in 2 Cor. 11 when he said…

2 Corinthians 11:5
- But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles."

Every culture crafts their own super-apostles if they aren’t careful to fight against this fleshly instinct.

I call them “Discipleship Divas.”

Or Pulpiteers, Theologastors, Showman…

Performers who employ Theatrics & Dramatic Monologues to put together masterful Soliloquies.

It is not bad to have an amazing pastor, so long as there are amazing people being equipped by them to live out an amazing gospel in the cracks and crevices of everyday life. But it becomes a leprous sore on the body of Christ when pastors hog all the ministry and invite others to come watch them do their thing.

This isn’t what God had in mind…

Acts 14:11-15

11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15"Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

I wish more pastors would tear their clothes and rush into the crowd and say to their congregations…

“Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.”

Paul even went so far as to say in 2 Cor. 4:5…

2 Cor. 4:5 - For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your bondservants for Jesus' sake.

I love what Alexander Woolcott says about this clergy clog in the church…

To all things overly clergic,
I am allergic.

~ Alexander Woolcott

That is why we desire to be a Missional Church…a church that equips people for works of service. We believe in the “priesthood of the believers”, the power of the community, the potential of a church where every person feels the weight of their calling to ministry.

And the equipping church has several cultural values that are quickly seen if you’re a part of one…

What is an Equipping Church?

Pastors and people ministering together

Leaders are primarily equippers, not doers

Values people-development over program-development

Outwardly focused; with ministry both inside and outside the church

Develops intentional pathways for growing and developing people

Just like the old Chinese proverb says…

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Chinese Proverb

We want people to be fishers of men…for real.

We want the church to have more substance to it than what I call Pastoral Curb Appeal. God dreams of the whole church feeling empowered to be pastors and shepherds of each other’s hearts.

He wants everyone to get in on the action…everyone to be involved.

I tend to agree with Mr. MacGregor’s philosophy of ministry when he says…

I heard someone say…

The difference between 'involvement' and 'commitment' is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was 'involved' - the pig was 'committed'.

And that is what a missional church is…committed to the Kingdom cause where every member views themselves as a minister.

The church will die if this doesn't happen.


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