Oxygen's newest reality TV show stars six high-profile pastors "living the God life"—complete with expensive cars and mansions. The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) warned that the show could prompt an IRS or Senate investigation of church finances. We asked several Christian leaders whether the show could be good for the church. The answers range below on a scale of "yes" at the top to "no" at the bottom.
"It's going to be phenomenal for the church. I think the traditional church is scared to death right now because this is a non-traditional approach to getting outside its walls. It isn't a Jesus crusade or a talking head show on Christian TV. I think it'll be very beneficial." Jay Haizlip, senior pastor, The Sanctuary, and participant in the show. (See our full interview with Haizlip.)
"It shines a spotlight on some of the shameful abuses of those who claim to be evangelical Christians. Instead of fearing an IRS backlash, groups such as the nrb should root out these bad actors. We will invite unwanted government oversight if we fail to police ourselves."
Warren Cole Smith, associate publisher, World
"These guys are so out of bounds from orthodox Christianity, I can't help believing that even nonbelievers will see the wackiness. Programs like this might actually make people realize that normal, evangelical Christians aren't so strange after all."
Phil Cooke, founder, Cooke Pictures
"Pastors must stand committed to not just engaging but reforming culture. Reality TV facilitates an opportunity to shine the light of Christ, but we must ensure that the pathetic does not quench the prophetic."
Samuel Rodriguez, president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
"Television is a tough medium to proclaim the gospel, because it traffics in the elevation and distortion of personality. There's another, more insidious danger: the temptation, like my own, toward self-righteous judgment of the shows and their stars."
Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, author, Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age
"It epitomizes what is wrong with reality TV—an eccentric slice of life on the fringe rather than the center. We can rejoice if within that menagerie, Christ is preached; but we could rejoice even more if Christ were preached in a very different venue."
Craig Parshall, senior vice president, National Religious Broadcasters
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