We Need More ‘Christian Celebrities’

Why we need Christian influencers in all sorts of cultural areas.

Last night, a new reality TV show premiered on Oxygen that follows a Miami pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. and his wife DawnCheré. The show has gotten some attention because the Wilkersons minister to the likes of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian—Rich even officiated their wedding.

I got a chance to hear Rich speak at a conference recently and it sparked discussion among our own church staff regarding whether what he and DawnCheré are doing is appropriate. While not everyone may prefer his presentation style, Rich reached boldly about the greatness of Jesus and how much we are loved by our Savior.

Many Christians have criticized Wilkerson’s choices in befriending celebrities and making a reality show. But one of the things he discussed in an interview after that preaching gig is the fact that God is giving him influence in circles that most of us would never be able to access.

I loved that.

Leaders need access in order to gain influence, because you can't influence people who aren't paying attention to you.

The “notorious sinners” of Jesus' day weren't being brought closer to God by the religious leaders of the day, because these leaders had no influence with them. Jesus showed up at weddings and parties and dinners and built relationships. Out of these relationships, lives were changed. That's an important part of this: Jesus didn't simply build friendships—there was "fruit in his ministry" to use a churchy phrase.

Jesus showed up at weddings and parties and dinners and built relationships. Out of these relationships, lives were changed.

The world needs Christians who are willing to be influencers in all different areas of our culture—this means we need "celebrities" who are also Christians, not just “celebrities” in church spheres. Those who have been given access are responsible for using that access to point people toward healthy relationship with God.

Setting the Climate

Instead of judging or criticizing people like Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson, I'm going to pray for them—that God would work through them to see genuine life change for everyone who hears the Good News of Jesus they are proclaiming.

In Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated that Christians should be thermostats in society rather than thermometers. That is, we should be setting a climate, not simply reporting it.

In the places where we find open doors to build relationships and share a message, let us see it as a gift from God. Not only on an individual level, but as a whole, where the Church is welcomed, let us rejoice.

We have been entrusted with the Good News that God loves us and wants to restore and redeem us. That message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must never stay the same. To say it another way, the message is in pen, the method is in pencil.

If you, like me, only speak English, you should be grateful for this. Had no one ever translated the message of Jesus into the language I understand, I would most likely not be a Christ-follower today.

Someone decided that the message of Jesus needed a new vehicle.

The music you sing in church was written hundreds or thousands of years after Jesus walked this earth.

Our oldest traditions were at one time innovations.

With this in mind, that our call to make disciples who love Jesus in our world involves making the Gospel known throughout the world, here are some ways each of us can join into the Great Commission given to us by Jesus:


Keep Jesus at the Center of Your Devotion, Not Your Favorite Way of Connecting With Jesus

I have certain preferences when it comes to music and art and entertainment and church, but I also try to keep in mind that the Apostle Paul talks about being crucified with Christ and Jesus tells me that I should be prepared to lose my life for the Gospel. How much more should I be willing to let go of my own personal preferences?

If the Good News of Jesus is my primary aim, I can rejoice when that news is shared by anyone to anyone.

Look for Places Where You Have Open Doors to Gain Influence

You may or may not wish that you had access to famous people. The fact that God has given some pastors that access may or may not be something you agree with, but I personally try to trust God in these situations.

If God had asked me whether He should use a man named Saul who was trying to eradicate Christianity as a primary contributor to the writing of the Christian Scriptures, I almost certainly would have had concerns. Good thing God is able to care for the Body of Christ without my guidance.

Our oldest traditions were at one time innovations.

Instead of wishing or demanding that God gives you influence in a particular area, why not take a look around and ask where God has given you input?

Perhaps it’s with your co-workers, or classmates, or fellow parents at a PTA, or at a meetup.com with people that have similar passions. Perhaps you blog or do photography. You have a voice, simply use that voice to declare the wonders of God when you have an opportunity. That’s using your influence where God allows you to have it in a way that benefits our world

Evaluate Whether You Are Seeing Fruit

Here’s the bottom line: the parable of the talents teaches us that it’s not about what you’re given, it’s about what you do with it.

You Might Also Like

Whether you have influence over multitudes or influence over one or two, are you using that influence to point people toward the abundant life Jesus promises to His followers?

If not, I would lovingly encourage you not to try to expand your influence. Jesus sought out new people in new settings and He continually saw results from these new connections.

Showing up at lots of parties to “be like Jesus” without a difference happening in anyone’s life would make me worry that I’m simply being self-serving.

If what I’m doing is in genuine service to God, I believe there will be evidence of that. I’m not trying to do the old preacher trick of making you feel bad if you didn’t “get somebody saved” recently. I’m talking about expanding the community of the Kingdom of God to those who haven’t discovered the life it shares with all who welcome it.

I hope you’ll join me in praying for people who have been given influence in our world. Whether you agree with everything they do or not, the Good News of Jesus being shared is the most important goal we have. I don’t care who people hear about God’s love from, I just hope they hear about it so it will bring them joy and peace.

Top Comments

Maria Paula Arango

3

Maria Paula Arango commented…

I started reading this article thinking I will completely disagree and I ended up agreeing with everything you wrote. thank you for this

Matthew Cheryl Price

1

Matthew Cheryl Price commented…

Billy Graham was the ultimate "celebrity pastor" with 50 years of praying with and advising Presidents. I imagine he too would be shot at for that today in the same way Rich Wilkerson is.

10 Comments

Maria Paula Arango

3

Maria Paula Arango commented…

I started reading this article thinking I will completely disagree and I ended up agreeing with everything you wrote. thank you for this

Thomas Christianson

2

Thomas Christianson replied to Maria Paula Arango's comment

This is the most encouraging comment I've ever read. Thank you for reading and giving consideration Maria!

Serg Damian

4

Serg Damian replied to Thomas Christianson's comment

This article is another example of the humanistic gospel. I bet our church fathers would be very proud of this. That guy is not a pastor and he ain't not man of God, pray for his salvation first and then that he be used of God!

Matthew Cheryl Price

1

Matthew Cheryl Price commented…

Billy Graham was the ultimate "celebrity pastor" with 50 years of praying with and advising Presidents. I imagine he too would be shot at for that today in the same way Rich Wilkerson is.

Chaun M

10

Chaun M commented…

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15 KJV

And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Luke 16:15 KJV

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
James 4:4 KJV

Jake Dunbar

4

Jake Dunbar replied to Chaun M's comment

John 3:16
16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Mark 16:15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Matthew 11:19
"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

Serg Damian

4

Serg Damian replied to Jake Dunbar's comment

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Paul

1

Paul commented…

We just need more Justin Biebers

Lyndon Dyert

2

Lyndon Dyert commented…

"And when you give, don't blast it with trumpets or announce it in the streets, like the hypocrites do. No, give in secret, away from eyes that see, and when your Father in Heaven has seen what you did in secret, he will reward you."

Everything a celebrity does is watched and seen by all. How then can a celebrity be a Christian? Do not prepare Christians for being celebrities, as it seems you are doing. Prepare Christians for being Christians.

Jake Dunbar

4

Jake Dunbar replied to Lyndon Dyert's comment

Matthew 5:16
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Please log in or register to comment

Log In