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Josh Reich is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ. Visit his blog here.

There is a great line in the movie Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy introduces himself and says, “I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.” This thinking sums up the thinking of many pastors, but not always the ones you think.

Many people bemoan the rise of mega-churches and talk about the “celebrity pastor” that has come because of it. It may be true true that some pastors of larger churches have created a pastor-centralized way of doing church. They strive to be celebrities.

But I’ve also met pastors of really large churches who are incredibly humble and seek to serve those around them. Large churches do not equal celebrity pastors just like small churches do not mean the pastors are not celebrities.

Now, in a small church, celebrity can be harder to see. But it is there.

You see this when…

  1. A pastor has to be at everything. Something isn’t important if he isn’t there or if he doesn’t announce it from the stage.
  2. Everyone needs to talk to the pastor or be counseled by the pastor. Talking to another elder or leader is seen as getting passed down the line.
  3. People skip church if the pastor isn’t preaching.

This problem can be deceptive because most pastors become pastors to help people. They care deeply for people, the hurts they experience and want to help them find life in Jesus. Underneath this desire for many pastors is a need to be needed. This fuels and drives many pastors to work themselves into a position where they feel they are always needed.

Here are a few ways to know this might be you:

  1. You can’t turn your phone off at night.
  2. You worry what people say about you, your sermon, or your church on Facebook. You also feel the need to comment on everything or want to know how many likes your last status update got.
  3. You have to be at every meeting, part of every decision that is made.
  4. You don’t take time off from preaching. When you go on vacation, you’re afraid someone may like the guest speaker’s sermon more than yours.
  5. When counseling or talking to someone, you do not challenge their sin for fear you will hurt their feelings.
  6. You are the bottleneck for all decisions; they must run through your office. By doing this, you say that you are keeping everyone on the same page, but really it is because you don’t trust that the culture and DNA of your church has spread, which says more about your leadership than your followers.

Pastors are needed by their people. God designed it this way and it is a good thing.

God also designed you as a pastor to find your approval and need to be needed in Jesus. You can’t fix everything. So recognize your limitations, focus your people’s attention on Jesus, and empower others to make decisions and be leaders.

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11 thoughts on “The “Other” Celebrity Pastor”

  1. Pastor Doug says:

    Good word, Brother Trevin. Good word. God help us all to cultivate a culture of dependence upon God and the gospel… not ourselves.

  2. Jeff Schultz says:

    Great insights and challenging reflections. Thanks for this.

    If I could add my $0.02 as the pastor of a small church? The symptoms of celebrity you describe in # 1-3 sometimes (often?) happen in spite of the pastor’s clear teaching, exhortation, and best efforts to train people otherwise. In other words, those things can be signs of problems in the pastor, but they can also be signs of problems in the patients who ignore their doctor’s advice and help.

  3. Bill Search says:

    Ouch. A bit too true. I find that I know this but I have to choose it daily. Thanks for posting.

  4. Adam C says:

    Maybe a better term -instead of “celebrity”- would be “president”. I think the term president communicates more of an aspiration not only for popularity and acceptance, but also a aspiration for power and respect. It’s got less of a Kim Kardashian connotation.

  5. nt says:

    I appreciate the post, but not really the quote from Anchor Man. I had some friends that wanted me to watch the movie with them, but it was filled with inappropriate jokes and language that made me come to the conclusion that the movie really doesn’t edify spiritually. Of course I can only say this because I’ve seen it, which makes me guilty of watching something that from a quarter way through I already knew I should have turned off. I just hope we can strive not to promote movies like this. In love and brotherly affection NT

  6. RM says:

    So how would one approach his pastor if this is how he operates and its been leading others including associate pastors to leave the church.

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