The Only Celebrity

Mike Pilavachi, himself a minor Christian celebrity, on the cult of celebrity in Christianity

When we put some people on pedestals, we do them no favours, we do ourselves no favours and above all we commit the sin of idolatry. We must repent. The only hero in heaven is Jesus. We must make sure he remains the only hero in the church.

(You might need to be signed up to Facebook to view this, but let’s face it, you’re reading a blog about Christian youth work, you checked Facebook while brushing your teeth this morning.)

Update: I forgot to insert the link first time around but now it’s disappeared off open Facebook, so unless you’re friends with Mike Pilavachi you can’t read it. I’m sticking it all up here for posterity (full text stolen from here).

Our culture is saturated with the cult of celebrity. We are mesmerized by fame. There are a whole group of people who seem to be famous for just being famous! Magazines, newspapers and TV shows know that if they profile certain people their readership, or ratings will automatically go up. Andy Warhol prophesied in the 60’s that a time was coming when everyone could be famous for 15 minutes. That bizarre scenario is virtually upon us.

The tragedy is that the celebrity culture seems to have infected large sections of the church. We get so excited if someone even vaguely famous comes anywhere near the kingdom. We not only attempt to co-opt celebrities from the secular world around us. We have learnt to do a great job at creating our own. Hundreds of years ago when I was in my teens the celebrities were the evangelists. Today it is the musicians, particularly the worship leaders. I am finding this increasingly disturbing. Obviously one reason for this is that I am not a worship leader! There is, however, a deeper reason. We will always have people to look up to, respect and trust. That is a natural and good thing. The cult of celebrity goes beyond that. The problem with raising others up and making them into hero’s who appear extra ordinary is that it can disenfranchise the rest of the body of Christ. When we talk about this “great man of God” or that “anointed woman of God” we immediately create a distinction in the body of Christ. That has to mean that most of the rest of us exist on a different and lower plane to these “super apostles” as Paul would mockingly characterize them.

The truth is that we are all the same in the Kingdom. God delights to use ordinary, weak and broken people in his ministry. When we build up the few we inevitably disempower the many.

As we grasp this, we stop waiting for the guy with the great healing ministry to come and make us better. We stop depending on the visiting evangelist who comes once a year to save our town. We don’t wait for the person with the gifted teaching ministry to hear from God’s word and we don’t look for the person with the prophetic origami ministry to sort our lives out. We rush to listen to these people at conferences and queue to get the blessing when we should all be sharing in the ministry.

The other problem with the cult of celebrity is that it overlooks the fact that in the Kingdom there is only one celebrity, one hero and his name is Jesus. It really has to be all about him! He will not share his glory with another. We must repent of the idea that “if only so and so is at the meeting then amazing things will happen”. No. The only thing we need is His presence. The only person who needs to show up is the Lord Jesus Christ. He and he alone makes the difference.

There’s a real danger in us pointing to one person, one place, one church or one event where God’s anointing is or through which God will change the world. The truth is the world was changed 2000 years ago by one man on a hill outside Jerusalem and every move of the Spirit since has been led by Him.

Our motto should be that of John the Baptist who said “He must increase, I must decrease”. John’s mission was not to promote himself but to prepare the way for Jesus. He recognized that the best way to ‘promote’ Jesus was to in a sense ‘demote’ himself. In an age of ‘self-promotion’, Christians are called to live in the opposite spirit. A spirit of ‘self-demotion’!

Over the last few years I have become a very minor and low grade christian celebrity. I hate it. It does no good for my pride when people treat me as if I am something. I love and need encouragement. I do not need people to think I am something I am not. Thank goodness because I get to live with me I know the truth. The truth is that I am just a lump of lard trying to serve the God whom I love and has shown unbelievable mercy to me. Some may say I have a poor self image to say that. No. I have a realistic self image.

When we put some people on pedestals, we do them no favours, we do ourselves no favours and above all we commit the sin of idolatry. We must repent. The only hero in heaven is Jesus. We must make sure he remains the only hero in the church.