Everyone is speaking about PreachersNSneakers. Effectively, not every person, I’m confident, but adequate that it has ended up in my inbox a lot of occasions more than the previous handful of days. PreachersNSneakers is an Instagram account that just shares pictures of preachers in their sneakers. No large deal, proper? It wouldn’t be, except that these are not just any preachers in any sneakers—these are mega-church pastors in mega-high-priced sneakers (or, sometimes, other designer garb). It is just the type of point that is confident to catch the eye of BuzzFeed and, via it, to reverberate across the World wide web. And, confident, adequate, it is developing by thousands of subscribers each and every day.
John Gray of the Relentless Church in Greenville—who, you may possibly don’t forget, was lately in the news for gifting his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini—is shown wearing a single pair of footwear that sells for $three,700 and a further that rings in at close to $six,000. Chad Veach and Judah Smith (of ZOE church in Los Angeles and City Church in Seattle, respectively) show up once more and once more, often with footwear or other bits of swag that price in the hundreds of dollars. On and on it goes.
So what’s the point and goal of the account? Clearly it is meant to expose the extravagance of some of the most prominent celebrity pastors, and it does that properly. It shows them displaying off their wealth by flaunting designer labels, by wearing garments that are normally as ugly as sin but high-priced as gold. And clearly it is also meant to expose their vanity, for the pictures are pretty much totally plucked from these men’s personal accounts. The pastors have very carefully shopped at the proper retailers, dressed themselves, taken the pictures, edited them just so, and shared them with the globe. They do not only want to be noticed, but they want to be noticed in this way!
And it is proper right here, I believe, that we see the major explanation persons are drawn to PreachersNSneakers: It forces the realization—or possibly the confirmation—of what so quite a few Christian leaders and their ministries are all about. They are not 1st pastors but influencers, their excellent wish is not to shepherd a neighborhood church but to develop a private brand, their private brand is not in the realm of religion but life-style. Their brand is results and they prove their results via ostentatious displays of prosperity. Most of us just see sneakers, but to a choose group—the group these persons want to woo and win as followers—these sneakers signal far additional. They stand as each proof and promise—“I am profitable, for I have the sneakers. Comply with me and you, also, can have the sneakers and all the results they symbolize.” In this way, this Instagram account is an illuminating, even though disheartening, exposure of contemporary evangelicalism.
But as I browse the account I uncover my conscience a tiny uneasy. I uncover myself concerned about an element of schadenfreude, that I (or we) may possibly be a tiny also delighted to have our suspicions confirmed and to see these pastors named out. I cannot aid but wonder no matter if in my tiny Christian subculture there are diverse signals of results that we worth above godly character. It is not sneakers, but I’m confident it is one thing. Then, I cannot aid but wonder no matter if this is a game we essentially want to play. Do we genuinely want to train ourselves to go about seeking at other people’s feet to decide no matter if or not they require a superior public shaming? How high-priced is also high-priced, anyway? Who gets to decide which labels are acceptable and which are extravagant? There is peril down that road.
At the exact same time, clothes genuinely does matter, even though possibly not in the way we may well anticipate. In the eyes of God, clothes genuinely only matters to the degree that it dresses our hearts. Probably the Bible’s most prominent message about our garments is a get in touch with to modesty. We have a tendency to fixate on higher hemlines or low necklines, but the Bible’s concern is character and humility. What Peter addressed especially to female believers two,000 years ago should be repeated broadly to the entire church right now: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the placing on of gold jewelry, or the clothes you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden individual of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is pretty precious” (1 Peter three:three-four). I do not believe God provides a rip about the labels, but I’m convinced he cares a excellent deal for the heart behind the labels. What we put on on the outdoors has an intriguing way of revealing what we genuinely worth on the inside. Our clothes reveals who we want to be identified by and what we want to be identified for.
We cannot neglect or deny that by accepting the get in touch with to ministry, pastors accept a higher level of scrutiny—a scrutiny meant to think about what they are displaying to the church and the globe about them. But when they are named to show one thing, it is not labels or brands or prosperity or other markings of worldly results. Pastors are named to show godly character and are certified only as extended as they keep it. The major concern of pastors need to not be the image they project but the character they show. In this way pastors require to make certain that what they put on does not in any way conflict with the far additional significant show of Christ-like character. They require to know that their garments will either complement or contradict the message of Christ. They require to be prepared to deny themselves something that may well lead to persons to have problems seeing previous them to see Christ. They require to be the 1st to show the humility and modesty that is so pretty valuable to God.
By means of social media, pastors’ lives are on show in a entire new way, for superior and for ill. Twitter and Instagram and all the rest are capable of amplifying the godly character that qualifies us or the worldly ambition that disqualifies us. But, of course, it just reflects the reality that pastors are named to a public ministry in which they are certified by the affirmation or disqualified by the de-affirmation of their personal neighborhood church. Pastors whose excellent concern is gaining and displaying Christ-like character for the superior of the persons they serve will shop, dress, reside, photograph, and Instagram accordingly.