Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Cult of Personality -- Evangelical Style

I've been thinking about our tendency in the church to pay special attention to certain people because they're famous. You know the kind of people I mean -- they've written best-selling books, or recorded hit songs, or preach or teach at a mega-church and speak at national conferences. We equate this national spotlight with something that makes these people more worthy of our attention.

Of course, I have to admit that I certainly wouldn't complain if people knew who I was because of the stories I've written. And there's nothing inherently wrong with becoming famous -- it often happens in unexpected ways to people who weren't seeking fame in the first place. But it seems to me that we don't question this culture of celebrity that we've fostered in the church. We flock to conferences, we buy books written by well-known people, we buy CDs by our favorite groups.

The danger I fear, though, is that we start to assume, wrongly, that our "ordinary" brothers and sisters in Christ have nothing to teach us. We turn our critical ears away from our home church's worship leaders.

Paul chastises the Corinthian Christians for placing too much importance on the human teachers they learned from. It's good to remember that God uses all kinds of people to get his message across. Some of them are well-known, but most are not.


bluggier said...

Linda, did any particular incident bring about this writing?


lindaruth said...

In a way, yes. I'm looking for a speaker for a women's retreat and was encouraged to see if we could get a "name" to speak this year -- find someone people have heard of. It's out of a desire to generate some excitement and attract more women to the retreat, which is a good thing, but it started me thinking about this whole issue of Christian celebrity. I didn't want to get too specific, but I may have been too vague. :)