by Robert Earl Houston
A buzz, a very annoying and disturbing buzz, has been created by the producers and crew of a proposed television series entitled, “So, You Think You Can Preach?”
Some of us are not amused.
The premise of this television series is to take ministers and have them compete before a panel of preachers (what preacher in his or her right mind that would participate on either side of the table is mind-boggling) and then, in reality television fashion, moves on to “the next round.” The “big win” includes the opportunity to preach in a mega-pulpit (at least one) across the country (mind you, a mega-church in the USA is 2,000 members or more). It’s been called, by it’s hosts, as a “family show.”
Really? This show should be shut down. My problem with this is more theological.
First, What Signal Are We Sending To Young Preachers? It is bad enough that we’ve got a generation of preachers that run the gamut from gifted and skilled to uncommitted and untrustworthy. We are now telling young preachers, you no longer need the counsel and confines of your pastor and home church; You don’t need Elijah anymore; You don’t need a practicum of learning in a smaller, friendlier environment anymore; You don’t need personal interaction with your shepherd in a field anymore; You don’t need study you need style; You don’t need an outline you need a helluva close; You don’t need meat when gravy will fill a belly. We are saying now that your business card and marketing skills are more important than your apprenticeship and training. There is no way a pastor who really cares about his or her associate ministers would allow them to participate in this foolishness. Conversely, as Dr. Tolan Morgan once stated, this is a generation of preacher that not only has no father in the home, they reject having one in the pulpit.
Second, What Signal Are We Sending To Church Members? The “television-cation” of the black church is disturbing. This show, obviously targeted at the black church, is another device to make fun or poke fun or misinterpret the church. When you watch movies, the preacher is preaching while the choir stands throughout the sermon, or the preacher is some fried-chicken eating, Cadillac driving, individual with issues; They make fun of our shouts; They make our psalmists into artists; They take handfuls of preachers and lift them up as if they are the rule and not the exception; and our precious members come to church to hear our choirs compared to what they just heard on Sunday’s Best; they hear our preachers with the scenes from “The Real Preachers of (location)” still within their conscious; they watch our worship while Medea and ‘dem still dance like sugar plums in their heads. Our presentation to our church members should be that our worship is sacred and not stupid; That it’s spirit driven and not performance driven; And that we are not in a contest with each other in the spreading of the gospel.
Third, What Signal Are We Sending About Mega-Churches? Ahhh . . . the prize! We want these young, unseasoned, unproven, preachers to “win the opportunity” to preach at a mega-church – when the truth of the matter is that less than 5% of all churches are in the mega-church category. So, let’s say “Minister M.M.” wins the competition and preaches at a “mega church” . . . then what? OK, you’ve got that on your resume – but so what? Churches don’t look for pastors because of where they preached, they look for pastors because of WHO CALLED THEM to preach. I have applauded (and have dear friends) who pastor larger congregations, but I equally applaud (and have dear friends) with those men and women who pastor congregations, in the words of Dr. M.V. Wade, Sr. “they may not be mega, but they’re major.” The goal of young preachers is not to set your sights on being a mega-pastor, the goal is to be a servant.
I call upon my fellow pastors, denominational leaders, and the Body of Christ at large to insist that your sons and daughters in the faith refuse or recant their participation. The harm that this show will create is not worth it to the body of Christ. And then, let us get back to doing what the Lord called us to do – ministry that matters.