Prosperity Preaching Brings "Biblical" Bling to Reality TV
"People see your glory, but don't understand your story" says a voice over in a new reality TV show's promo video. Well, at least we can agree on the second part of that statement.
The program, Oxygen's "Preachers of LA," focuses on the megachurch ministries of 6 big-budget pastors, complete with shoddy theology, ostentatious "house porn", and more manufactured drama than a middle-school love triangle.
"Reality" genre notwithstanding, there's little about "Preachers of LA" that looks remotely like pastoral ministry. Unless your vocation includes Ferraris, preaching for a fee and multiple mansions purchased to accommodate your spouse's expanding wardrobe.
CT's Ruth Moon interviewed Jay Haizlip, one of the pastors that the show follows, in a recent interview. Haizlip responded to a question about the "lavish lifestyles" of the highlighted preachers:
You can't form your opinion about a guy just because he drives a certain car. One of the cast members is a car enthusiast. Girls like shoes and purses. Guys like cars. It has nothing to do with the fact that he's Christian or a preacher; he's a man who likes cars. I know how much money it has taken me to raise three kids; I have one kid who just finished college, one who's in college, and a 13-year-old daughter who is already showing me what kind of car she wants. If I didn't have children, I could buy several $100,000 cars. Rather than focusing on what these guys have, I think people ought to take an honest look at what they do. One of the cast members last year gave half of all his personal earnings away. You don't hear anybody talking about that.
The show will likely color popular imagination around pastoral ministry for some time.
Copyright © 2013 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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