Back in the old days of Christendom, we had our local church. Megachurches were nearly unheard of, and when they did exist, it was in the vicinity of a large metropolis with a large population. We had the traveling crusades of Billy Graham and Co., and a few smaller traveling ministries that most people from the era couldn’t remember if to save their lives. But with the advent of the internet, and the explosion of social media, a phenomenon has erupted. Every city now has multiple megachurches, and even some of the most rural areas have them. From Rick Warren, to Joel Osteen–Matt Chandler to Andy Stanley–everyone has their favorite celebrity. But it’s not just pastors who make the celebrity lists, we have our Tim Tebows, and our Roma Downeys too–the ones Christians look to to represent Christianity, and to make Christianity look good. They stand up for Christianity, publicly, and that quickly builds a following.
But what happens when one of these celebrities fail us?
Look at the case of Mark Driscoll? As founder, and former pastor of Mars Hill Church, a Seattle megachurch with 15 satellite locations, Driscoll became very widely known and popular within Evangelicalism. He authored many books, and was known to engage the culture in a very nontraditional way. He became an icon for a carnal form of “Christianity.” He was known as the “cussing pastor,” who would regularly use vulgarities while preaching, and had an affinity for attracting followers around his charismatic presentations and outlandish claims of visions from God.
Driscoll became very popular as a traveling speaker at national, even international events. He authored many books, and other big name Evangelicals, like John Piper, began to look to him and take him seriously. He quickly became the man who couldn’t go wrong. He was held so high on a pedestal that anyone who spoke anything against him was shunned.
The problem with this, however, is when they fail us. After Driscoll being strutted around for years…Bam! The bottom fellow out from under him.
Why do we need celebrities?