Episode 21
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What If My Pastor Becomes a Celebrity?

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August 10, 2021

Welcome to village church, Q and a I’m Amanda. And I’m here with pastor Michael. And today we are answering a set of questions. We’ve been doing a little bit of a micro series with the celebrity pastor questions, which is great. Um, I know you love answering them today is what if my pastor becomes a celebrity? What if my pastor becomes the celebrity? We want to know, tell me what to do.

Let’s set a foundation. I feel confident. Uh, we’re going to go 96%. That’s a really official number. Uh, I’ve been preaching for 20 years. So I feel like if somehow I was going to be the next Billy Graham or Erwin looser, I don’t know. I feel like something. Yeah,
Your moment would have already, my gut Tells me that. So, um, I think anyway, so that’s a whole different scenario. Like if you come to village shirts, there’s open seats. There’s those open seats never aligned to talk to you. Things are getting really Real rates. True. It’s true.

Um, so let me ask you a question. Uh, I want you to imagine that all of a sudden village church grows to 5,000 people by the next two years. What do you do?

Okay. Honestly, that’s like kind of a nightmare for me, a personal nightmare coming from a background where I had gone to a church that has levered celebrity pastor. I can say these words. Um, but I feel like those were some of the questions that kind of fueled, like where we were going and what church we are going to put our roots down in. And so we had asked, um, the elders like, Hey, where do you guys see yourself going as you grow? And they were all like, you know, we want to grow small. If we hit certain numbers, like we want to plant new churches. And so it wasn’t going to be all like just, you know, all the focuses on Michael and how do we get more of them out to the people in this area, you know, more Michael, how do we project that out, you know, and sustain his image. And it was not like that at all. He was like, okay, so then we need another church. Yeah. We need another pastor. And I love that because then it’s not about the person it’s about what the holy spirit is doing in the area.

For sure. Yeah. It’s the hardest part is that sometimes you can not control it and it can just happen. So for example, if we want to start another church, which we were trying, we were beginning that process right before COVID, Well, we already had livestream. And so we were looking to go out to Elgin or past that or west Dundee or something about that direction. And, and, um, but like, COVID just blew it all up, you know? So like if a church grows by a thousand people a year and you can’t actually send them off quick enough and raise up leaders quick enough, this, this actually happens. And so I don’t envy that church growth is excruciating. I mean, people, if your church is declining or just kind of manage people have this pastors often have this desire to like grow, Well, you’re trying to, okay. So there’s a sustaining, like you want to sustain versus grow, like grow exponentially. Those are different things.

There’s a of what the experience is of leading a church through significant growth. It is crushing. It is exhausting. People do not get it. They don’t understand it until you’re in it. And all the guys that go through it they’re like, that was way harder than we ever thought it would be. And so again, I have three big pieces like categories that I want to talk about and the first has to do with the elders. Uh, so the elders need, need, need, need, need to be very engaged with the pastor if he is starting to become a celebrity. So for example, you might have a guy who, when he preaches every time a hundred or 200 people come to faith in Christ and, and sometimes you just can’t stop it. Some people have these really once in a generation gifts and to be an elder board to try to figure out how to steward this really well, um, is really challenging.
But the elder board, they need to be engaged. They need to make sure that this guy has a strong relationship with the Lord. His body is taken care of. Uh, they need to make sure him and his wife are incredibly healthy that the children have all of the time that they need. And that he really does. If he’s going to continue to be a pastor of this church, he is caring for this church, the flock of God that God has put before him to minister and serve that’s that itself can be a pretty, pretty big job. But if I’m you okay. And all of a sudden your pastor becomes a celebrity. It’s really just funny to think about it.

You’re a pastor. You, yeah, you’re gonna. You’re gonna want to sit down with our elders and say, I want details. Like, I wanna know how it’s going now. Thankfully like you knew me back back when, right? And so you should continually have access to that person if you were with them when it was smaller. Um, but it’s, it’s a really hard job for a group of elders to kind of navigate through it. So, um, you want to make sure that as a group of elders you’re stewarding the fruit well, like I imagine being John Piper’s elders, this normal church in Minneapolis, and he starts preaching and all of a sudden he goes viral and people, this was back in the day of cassettes and they’re like, we want that those sermons. So they had to start distributing cassettes all over the world. How do you steward that? Those are once in a generation moments where you want to make sure you do it well.

And, and so the elders have a huge job. Every pastor, every person needs to be under authority, particularly of elders who are strong and love him are honest. They’re not, yes, men, but they’re just good men who love this pasture and they want to support him. And so that’s, I think that’s a really big one. The first categories is get to know the elders and make sure that you know, that, you know, now your circumstance that you came from, this is personal for you because you couldn’t get clarity on what was happening. Uh, who did you sit down with? Were used. Did you sound pastors, elders? All of the above. I actually, There was no, there was no, um, there was no chance that I was going to be able to sit down with anybody even close to the I’m the best that I got was emails. Yep. Um, I would get a response a couple of weeks later and they would say like, I just want to let you know that, like I know this pastor and he’s not anything what you’ve been hearing. And then, um, and then I got a card that said, we miss you. And it was like typed. And I was like, oh, this is so painful. Why am I here? You know, like, you don’t know me, you actually don’t know me, you know? And that part was hard. And, and I know some people like this works for their introverted cells, but, um, they can go to church and not be seen and go home and be okay with that.

I’m just going to say this, that it it’s healthy for everybody to be known in their church. Um, and so I think that that part of it became more and more clear that I was like, I don’t. Yeah. Not even seeing the people that know me and love me and can encourage me and I can encourage them. And they’re going through a hard thing and who knows what service they were at. So there are special difficulties. I think that you have to be willing to take on. And like I said, maybe some people are cut out for that. I know a lot of people that are not, and a lot of people that were hurt by it.

So, so I mean, you have this, this first category of elders, very important. That’s your front line of protection. And number two is just a warning to people because oftentimes when somebody grows in there, we’ll just say influence jealousy is a very real thing. And we have as Americans, we have an automatic disdain for people that we know who become celebrities. It’s an interesting kind of thing. Uh, it’s a lot easier when we don’t know them. Uh, we have a much better view of people that we don’t know. Oh, that’s so true. It is very true. But, but when you know the person you’re like, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait. And all these people are clamoring and singing their praise. He’s actually an idiot.
He’s just a goofy dude. And, Um, and so that’s a real dynamic, but there’s a warning here because again, every once in a while, God raises up somebody and he gives them a unique ability to make a really big difference, to bear a lot of spiritual fruit in ways that other people aren’t. And we want to make sure that if that happens, we’re not, we’re not complaining about something God is doing. Um, now, if this is all manipulation and different things like that, that’s a whole different category. But again, we keep coming back to this guy. But like, I think of like having Billy Graham in your church, what do you do if you’re Billy Graham’s pastor, do you put that under a bushel? No.

Right, right. But I do love the idea of bringing other voices into the pulpit that you trust. You can hear that they have wisdom. And when I have an issue, a problem, like I have somebody trusted that I can go to and I’m not only like, oh no, I need to talk to pastor Michael, because I know he just preached on this. And you know, This is where as a, if somebody’s influence grows, it is really, really smart to diversify the pulpit and bring more voices into that. So that the whole thing doesn’t hinge on the person, because of the Flag, the Has to transcend a person, unless the person Jesus should not transcend him. But your pastor, like if the whole thing is built on his preaching, well, what happens when he dies? He’s disqualified as fired the Lord, calls him somewhere else, you know, devastation, devastation. So there is a, there’s a lot of responsibility. So there’s the elders. There’s just a warning. Be careful because the Lord might be doing something and the elders got to figure out how to navigate, not navigate that. And then, and then here’s just a last word, which is for most people, if we’re being honest, They’re jealous.

And I, again, like I look at celebrities and I’m just like, ah, there’s not a part of me that wants to do what they’re doing. Like I just, I am exhausted thinking about their life. I don’t know if the money is worth it. I never made that much money. So I don’t know if it’s worth it, but I look at their life and their children. I hear the stories. And I’m like, oh, that sounds very, Very stressful. And my wife and I don’t run at a slow pace. And I look at there’s, I’m just being a regular pastor, Pastor it’s exhausting. You can just be stretched really thin. You can Very quickly. And so, but it’s interesting how many pastors are just plain jealous and they’re frustrated and they look at them or why can’t I? And it’s like, I’ve just come back to this warning that I gave a minute ago. The Lord just sometimes plucks out people and they’re once in a generation gifts and they do really big things and that’s okay. Sometimes, you know, somebody they’re a writer and the Lord just bears fruit that they’re writing. And so do you want them to write more and have a greater influence for the kingdom as long as they’re not arrogant? For sure. You know, those are the challenges of, of, we’re just trying to lead through all of that. So I would look at somebody and say, if my pastor becomes a celebrity, I would say, talk to the elders, check your heart, mate. You know, really look and see what the Lord is doing there. Uh, follow the spirit on this stuff and just make sure there’s not like a spirit of jealousy there as well. Um, also just because, you know, somebody who did something stupid doesn’t mean this person going to do something stupid.

Yeah. We would have hurt too, as a whole other thing. Right. That’s a whole nother issue.

Right. Because that’s, that’s like PT. It’s like poking it over. Yeah. So, um, anyways, I think there’s a higher chance of you becoming a slider. You’re going to become the voice of please know something. I don’t know. It’s got to be great though. So for next time, we’re going to be answering the related question to this series. Is it okay if I do not have a relationship with my pastor.

On This Episode:

Amanda Diaz

Co-Host, Q&A

Michael Fuelling
Michael Fuelling

Lead Pastor, Village Church Illinois

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