I have previously written about the difference between power and authority in differing spheres of government—self, family, church, and state. I have also written tons about the need for decentralized power—the whole of Restoring America is based upon that idea. As odd as some may find it, these very ideas come to the fore in the modern manifestations of what one editor once called The Failure of the American Baptist Culture. That failure, to be specific, is the cult of the celebrity preacher.
To be fair, this is hardly exclusive to Baptists. There have always been popular preachers with large followings, or at least with large productions that wowed many people. You can go all the way back to Tetzel to get a Roman Catholic example. There were Anglican, Reformed, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Baptist celebrity preachers in the old days, and of course, tons of charismatic and nondenominational ones today. So, this is hardly exclusive to Baptists. It includes all who act like Baptists as well. (Just kidding!) But the problem is far wider today than it was when there was a Knox or a Whitefield.
I was reminded of this problem as I studied a series of lectures from way back in 1988 on Church and Community this weekend. Particularly, it was a lecture on “The Biblical Basis for Decentralization.” I was almost floored to hear the connection made between a culture of top-down control (power) and the rise of celebrity preachers. When I heard this, I knew I was in the presence of a prophet.
Dr. Joel McDurmon concludes: It's not just time for many Christians—especially young ones and young couples—to make a change, it is long past time. There are many who have been sitting and listening to their favorite celebrity preacher for years—maybe decades—and have not moved much beyond where they were when they first heard him. This is proof of utter failure to grow. You should be moving far beyond the introductory-level Gospel messages and spirituality messages most of these guys preach. It's time you got involved in some ministry and started making a difference.