by Robert Earl Houston
It’s not fair of anyone to be judged on a one day incident for the rest of their mortal lives. With that thought in mind, it’s only fair of me to revisit my original opinion about the Real Preachers of L.A. and offer this post game analysis now that the show has concluded season 1. I have no doubt that there will be a season 2 of some sort.
After the season is now completed, I want to say that nothing earth shattering has occurred. The moon has not turned into blood. The sky did not fall. Droves of people did not leave the church nor did droves of people join the church after watching these pastors and spouses. Many people, including myself, believed that it would have had an impact, but after that first “hook” episode, it settled down quickly and moreso focused on the relationships that the preachers had with their wives or significant others.
I have to say that I was on Team Jay Hayzlip, Team Clarence McClendon, and Team Ron Gibson throughout the series. I really believed that they wanted to present the gospel and ministry in a positive light. I was ambivalent about Team Chaney – and they are a team, for sure. However, I was saddened by the story of Noel Jones. To me, he looked very tired toward the end of the series and I hope that he really finds some personal relationship happiness. I’m rooting for him.
I was not a fan of Team Haddon and I was confused throughout but not surprised by some of the anti-establishment rants by this young preacher that unfortunately is echoed by some young preachers/pastors that I see today, who does not respect authority. I have never worn the tag “Angry Preacher” as an associate or pastor, and I just believe that many of the episodes that featured him could be used in a teaching setting with young associates.
So, bottom line – I call this a draw. It wasn’t earth-shattering and it wasn’t that boring. It looks like the producers have the making of a spin-off – Team Haddon would make a series unto themselves. I think the world and the church could tolerate another season – but if you really want to see the strength (or lack thereof) of this show – put it on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. and it will go off the air immediately.
by Robert Earl Houston
Normally, I’m honored when news services pick up “The Wire” or other web sites pick it up as well. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember and I’m always encouraged by those who have been kind through the years – Gospel Today Magazine, the National Baptist Union-Review, the Skanner Newspaper, and the various electronic media outlets. God is too kind.
However, the conversation about my recent article on “The Preachers of L.A.” has actually grieved me. I’ve turned off all of the comments on this article because frankly of the negativity that it spawned. I don’t mind dialogue – but when it starts to rise to the level of personal attack – it is beyond the pale. I’m not a sold-out fan of the show by no stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think I need to facilitate below the belt, personal attacks on the “stars” of the show. At the end of the day, they are still pastors and carriers of the Lord’s gospel.
What tipped me over the edge was a radio program and I was listening to a black minister from Dallas who was disparaging these ministers for the mistakes they had made in their personal lives (which had NOTHING to do with the current program) and I couldn’t stomach the continual attacks made by this “minister” who has made a name in the white evangelical world by tearing down black preachers.
My column was about the show itself and how it flowed. Would I still listen to Noel Jones preach? Absolutely. What about Clarence McClendon? I’ve met him as late as of the Full Gospel meeting in Louisville. Would I buy a Detrick Haddon song? Absolutely (if it was worth it). Do I still watch Ron Gibson from time to time? Yes. But I will not become worst in my criticism than the show. These (and Wayne Chaney and Jay Hazlip) are still leaders (except Haddon) of congregations and Pastors.
Someone wrote me and said that I said that the preachers promoted their wealth. I didn’t say that – what I said was:
I have met or know personally most of the preachers on this show and I don’t know if it’s necessary or helpful to display them in this manner. Throughout the show we saw Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Hummers and other luxury cars – there’s not a thing wrong with it.
I didn’t say they promoted it – I said that the perception, presented by the producers via camera shots placed that emphasis there.
I do believe that the laborer is worthy of his hire. I do know that several of these pastors, as identified on the show, have revenue streams outside of the ministry of their local church. There are mega-pastors out there that do not solely depend on their church for their livelihood. I get that. But I will not beat the drum in a parade that is crying out “crucify them.” I cannot and will not do that.
Some of the statements that I’ve received about the show and the personalities involved were frankly childish, disgusting and immature from the PEOPLE of the body of Christ. I still hold that this show (which was seen by well over 1,000,000 people in its debut) is going to do harm to the body of Christ and stigmatize those who have been blessed financially. God is not against wealth, but he is against it when the wealth overshadows the Christ. In the words of the late Dr. E.K. Bailey – “If you serve the Lord for pay, it won’t pay; But if you serve the Lord, it will pay.”
by Robert Earl Houston
OK, I gave it a chance.
Last night, I sat down and watched the first episode of The Preachers of L.A. I didn’t know if I was watching Oxygen or BET or MTV with the heavy bass riffs. The visual arts of the show are strong – but most of the Preachers of L.A. don’t live in or minister to the crowds they show on the Beach, in Malibu, Big Sur, etc.
Having said that I have three take-aways from the premiere episode:
# 1 – Why A Fight?
I was stunned by the interaction between Deitrick Haddon and Clarence McClendon. Especially the rift by Haddon about “what’s wrong with the church” when he is shown throughout the episode as someone who fell and seeks redemption. The church didn’t cause his downfall and to say “that’s what’s wrong with the church” to me, personally, seems either hypocritical or delusional. McClendon has been around a long time and just studying his body language you could see him as an older pastor listening to the rants of a young pastor, who didn’t want to listen and just wanted to keep talking. I agree with McClendon – enough. It seems like TV producers (most of them white) always feel its better TV when you have two African-Americans going at each other. It’s sad and like McClendon said “I should have never agreed to this.” A mancave should not become a batcave.
# 2 – Perception, Perception, Perception
I have met or know personally most of the preachers on this show and I don’t know if it’s necessary or helpful to display them in this manner. Throughout the show we saw Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Hummers and other luxury cars – there’s not a thing wrong with it. But it was so prevalent that it overshadowed things like Haddon’s rehearsal or Ron Gibson’s interaction with the gang community of L.A. – which I thought was the best portion of the program. Note to Oxygen – I don’t care about how many cars Noel Jones drives – all I want to know (and remember) is that he is a dynamic preaching vessel of the Lord – period. The same goes for Wayne Chaney – his PDA thing is HIS business and I don’t see how that added to the show – but it does set up a suggestion that they’re going to “go there” later this season.
# 3 – Voyeuristic Worship
Hollywood thinks that the sermon is the crescendo of the preacher’s messages. Rarely did I see any of the opening minutes of any of the sermons by Jones, McClendon, Jay Haizlip, Gibson, Haddon or Cheney. The energy of these preachers at the end of the sermon is similar, but the forthtelling at the beginning of the sermon which sets up that crescendo is at the beginning. It’s celebrating gravy instead of the meat. When Jones was preaching and he swung his arms and didn’t say anything, I suspect that earlier in the sermon he alluded to the motions, but it didn’t convey.
Again, I know many, many L.A. Pastors and most of them do not “roll” like this. The average church in America is less than 125 persons strong and most of them don’t have 2 or 3 revenue streams as Haddon was discussing – and that conversation bothered me personally. I’m not, personally, in ministry just to generate one or many revenue streams. I’m in the ministry because I was called to it – not to the fame nor fortune. If it happens, it’s by the grace of God and if it doesn’t it’s still by the grace of God. 99.9% of pastors that I know don’t sit up all night conceiving of new revenue streams.
I’m saddened by this series and personally, I think it’s a big mistake – but unfortunately when I saw it on Oxygen’s site and they had it marked episode 101 – that means they’re planning on more to come. We shall see.