Stepford Pastors And The Messy Real Thang

Maybe it is our natural-born propensity for idol worship. Or the cult of personality that our American society succumbs to on a daily basis.

In modern Christianity, we love to love our rock star/Podcast pastors. Not that any would accept that moniker outright. But they are on a stage. In front of adulating thousands. With a semi truck of best-selling merch and CDs. In some cases they are even asked to autograph Bibles….and babies…..Ok not really.

But I am guilty of this.

I have a few sermon jam faithfuls I’ll crank up as I lull off to Sleepytown. If I see a Piper or a Chandler headlining a respective event my interest gets piqued by 63%. Even though it is a gospel message I want to hear from them, sometimes I wonder if I’m treating the Holy Spirit like a little fairy that sprinkles its pastoranointing dust a little more liberally on men who are in my ITunes queue.

So we’ll spend hundreds of bucks, travel hundreds of miles, and devote an extended weekend of our time to go hear these super apostles of our modern faith wax to thousands. But we (ME!) can hardly rub out the eye boogers and roll out of bed before 9AM to hop down the road to hear a local ordinary shepherd minister to us weekly in the flesh.

The Podcast pastor has commentaries, conferences, and well, podcasts. That local stiff has awkward jokes, a dead blog, and bad breath when he tries to pray over your family at the altar.

Slick marketing and our own fallen flesh have made a Podcast Pastor who is not real. Shepherds don’t exist from afar, in comfortable digital seclusion, safe from the sheep they are shepherding. First and foremost, the only way to truly Shepherd is to be. with. the. sheep. Carrying the sheep with broken legs, wrestling out the one’s stuck in mud, warding off wolves with ulterior motives. Try doing this from the sanitary confines of a conference stage…the professional lighting is so blinding you can’t even see the sheep from there…

Don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here: But Platt/Piper/Giglio/Stanley/MacArthur/Driscoll/Chandler/etc. don’t know you, and they’re not the ones that have been entrusted to personally feed you and care for your spiritual well being. I bet their poop stinks too, just like yours.

It’s not the podcast pastors who are the problem (of course I’m a hypocrite and would love to be one). It’s the fanboys like me who construct a false idol out of them that never errors, always loves, and has an inerrant grasp of the hypostatic union. These aren’t real men with real ministries we’ve made, they are nice clean Stepford Pastors.

Shepherding, and the local church for that matter, is messy business.

And Jesus, the ultimate Shepherd, revealed God’s unwavering personal love for the messiest souls. The blood and dirt at the foot of the cross is a good place to get clean.

I’m almost positive God has entrusted a local pastor over your care somewhere in your neck of the woods. The dude’s not perfect. Neither are you.

This Sunday, how about giving him a mint and thanking him for choosing to get down and dirty with you? I bet that’s what your PodCast Pastor (and better yet, Heavenly Shepherd) would want also.

Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

20 thoughts on “Stepford Pastors And The Messy Real Thang”

  1. So true. And so sad. I think this is more of a problem in Evangelical circles where ministers are expected to “perform” & entertain congregations. I like the emphasis to be on the Word of God and the prayers said from the Prayer Book (liturgy). This keeps the focus on God, not man. Also, where Holy Communion is available on a weekly basis (as well as Morning & Evening Prayer) the attention of parishioners is on the “holy table’ where communion is administered. This service points us to Christ and his sacrifice (made once and for all) for our sins. All the best to you and your good work for The Lord & his kingdom.

  2. We just talked about this in bible study last night – how Jesus didn’t try to gather crowds in Jerusalem – or Rome (where he would’ve have great followings with religioso-political backing). He ministered “down below,” to the down-trodden, to those without such connections – because he wasn’t trying to build his kingdom HERE. Thank you for having the “gumption” to speak the truth – the local church and being involved in ministry IS messy business. But, with it, comes a community of relationship – not idol-worship.

  3. Very cool post Chief. And it made me feel better about myself that I ahve no idea who any of these people are, “Platt/Piper/Giglio/Stanley/MacArthur/Driscoll/Chandler/…”
    I was supposed to feel better about that, right?

  4. Powerful and inspiring words with much truth in them. Thank you for sounding the alarm. God has called us to worship HIM, not the pastors and musicians we watch on television, podcasts or listen to on our stereo. Many blessings to you.


  5. Once again, excuse me for chuckling. Not because I’m laughing AT you, but WITH you. Some people say the truth hurts, but then there are others, like yourself, who speak the truth with a twinkle in their eyes and you can’t help but see yourself and chuckle. Ya, I have to admit I do recognize the list of names you mentioned and I enjoy listening to most of them. I won’t say which ones I don’t. LOL.

  6. Yes. This is also what I love about new Christians: they don’t know this subculture, and it’s better that way. Even the podcast pastors in their own church have a hard enough time getting to know anyone; it’s an epidemic of our consumerist mentality.

  7. Loved it! I’d say we can even go a step further and challenge those who have made idols of their own mega/extremely large/giant church pastors (or maybe even their regular sized church pastor). As believers our challenge is to be invested in the body, not because of the winsome preaching of one man, but because of a calling of Jesus’ people to be a part of His body and its local expression, covenanting with one another. As pastors our challenge is to decentralize the ministry so that we are not the focal point, but only one of many servants who are ministering to and serving the church. Loved the writing brother!!

  8. Bryan, I love this. You’ve hit it exactly. We want our pastors to be perfect when of course no human could ever be perfect. And by the way, although we need to be discerning, I do like to read (don’t like podcasts myself) sermons and devotionals of some of those on your list. 😉

    By the way, I love the “Stepford Pastors” name. I once belonged to a church where I swear was populated by “Stepford Wives”! But that’s a story better left untold…


  9. I have come to believe that the singular voice is the number one mark of a cult. What if pastors went back to doing what pastors are supposed to do and shepherd the flock (but that would involve getting their hands dirty) instead of talking ‘at’ them, and let the many teachers who sit in their pews do what they do best – teach? I have the gift of teaching as does my husband, but there is no place for us in the world of the one man show (or benevolent dictator, as my husband likes to call it).

    One of the reasons I don’t go to church on Sunday morning anymore is that there is no room for a response to what I am hearing from the front. The nonsense that gets said has driven me beyond anger and right out the door. Maybe the nonsense wouldn’t make me so mad if we were able to have a conversation. But, alas, our modern corporate idea of church has rendered this model obsolete.

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