Ministry is not Celebrity

“How do these famous pastors write all these books, preach every Sunday and visit all their mega-flocks? As well as being dads and husbands?”

This was my tweet that inspired the launch of Phil Baiden International Ministries. I received some really interesting responses. It seems that well-known pastors who have mega-churches and write lots of books hire other people to do much of the donkey work. Sermon researchers, ghost writers, pastoral visitors are used which has the bonus of allowing the pastors to concentrate on the really important stuff like conference speaking. Well, I fancied a bit of that so PBIM is the result. Stay tuned for the announcement of my new book in the next few days…

At the same time as sending out this tweet I was reading Carl Trueman’s book of collected essays: “Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread”. Trueman is an Englishman who has taught at Aberdeen University and is now academic dean at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. He’s a fabulous author on modern church life because he has a real knowledge and love of church history. His articles can be read here.

Trueman’s writings show the ridiculousness of some of the things going on in the church today that reflect the culture of celebrity much more than they reflect a self-sacrificial Saviour. He also uses humour to show the absurdities of church life. So I recommend Carl Trueman to you with the proviso that he may turn into the type of “celebrity” Christian to you that he warns us against.

Trueman reminds us that ministry is not glamourous. It should not be a quick route to celebrity. It can be heart-breaking and back-breaking and there may be no rewards this side of glory. No. Ministry should be simply: Preach and teach the Word, visit the sick and shepherd the flock God’s given you. Let the conferences, book deals and tv shows wait. You’re not that special but you’ve been given a special task. Get on with it.

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One thought on “Ministry is not Celebrity

  1. That’s kind of spooky, Phil. I posted this morning on “performance anxiety” as one shortly to be ordained and I think your post is as good an answer as any. The tasks of ministry as, put like that, pretty straightforward (which is not to say easy). So long as one is satisfied that he or she is preaching and teaching the Word as given to them and visiting the sick two of the three you list are taken care of.
    The problematic bits, surely, are how you are to understand the pastoral (shepherding) role and what happened to mission (in any of the senses of that rather slippery word), which is where the ministry of a Rob Bell, a Brian Maclaren, a Rick Warren or (even) a Mark Driscoll might claim some validity, no?

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