Is Preachers of LA Representing Preachers the Right Way?

Preachers Of LA

The new Preachers of LA series by the Oxygen network has created uproar amongst many churchgoers.  I have seen a lot of tweets and Facebook post from people angry about the show since it premiered a few weeks ago.  Most feel that the show is glamorizing ministry and putting lavish lifestyles on display with the assumption that this is what God wants, what God can do, and what God has provided.  So why are people so angry?  Everybody wants nice things, right?  And what better way to get them if God does it for you?

There is nothing wrong with having nice things. Most of us would like to have more and live a richer life but that is not why we (should) go to church. We go to church because we love God, desire to worship God, draw closer to God and be in fellowship with other believers.

It seems that most people who are frustrated by the show are doing their best to get by day to day: trying to make ends meet; save enough to purchase things they desire/need; and care for their children.  Therefore, these people (most of us) find it hard to digest their preacher/pastor living a lavish lifestyle, particularly when the perception is that these preachers are able to live this way because of people who give monetarily to support “ministry.” Nobody likes to feel like they are being hustled or pimped by the prophet for a profit. People love God enough to give and trust that their money will be used to touch lives and souls with the Word of God.

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So, dear pastors and ministry leaders: If you want wealth create business ventures. Many clergy do and are doing well financially through those ventures. But if you are going to build your own “kingdom”, do not build it on the backs of hardworking people who really just want a more intimate relationship with God and believe that you can point them in that direction.  Don’t “floss” on the people; they don’t like it.  It’s as if you’re saying, “Look at what I bought myself with your money.  Don’t you like it?  If you want it too, pray about it!”

Kanye once rapped, “I’ve been talking to God for so long, if you look at my life I guess he’s talking back.” And now he’s on the Yeezus tour. He has deified himself. This show makes it appear that these preachers too are deifying themselves, on their own Yeezus tour, getting high on their own supply. However, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up.” (John 12:32)  Unfortunately, this show is lifting up people and making golden calf idols of their possessions. Unless YOU willfully left heaven to take on human form, lived out a nomadic ministry on the margins, was crucified for your ministry, died, was buried, then rose again – sorry to say, it’s not about you.

Nonetheless, there are some who defend the show arguing that preachers are people too, human and flawed.  Yes, we are. But as someone once told me, “we don’t show people our wounds, we show them are scars.” We do so as evidence that the journey with God brings about healing and transformation.  People need and want to be whole.  The question Jesus asked was “do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV)

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Still others ask why should rappers and entertainers be the only people with Bentleys and mansions? First, Bentleys and mansions don’t measure the quality of one’s life. Secondly, entertainers are people selling something people choose to purchase, music, movies, etc.  As ministers of the gospel we are not selling God and faith.  The Gospel is free. The Bible is not the best selling book in history because it has a good price point.  It’s because people want to know God and know God loves them.  Yes, there is a business side of ministry but literally for God’s sake, keep it to yourself.  You don’t have to show off your stuff as evidence of how much money you make. It only perpetuates the negative stereotypes many of us are constantly trying to disprove through our work. This show is only making people who are Leary about church say “see I told you so.”

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Sadly, this show is about lavish living and we will likely not see one that displays the many sacrifices made by every day preachers and ministers.  Producers wouldn’t care to show how clergy (often barely paid) help people in many ways: hospital visits, protesting gun violence, fighting for equitable funding of schools in low income communities, going to court with someone’s son, fighting against predatory lending, etc. They wouldn’t find a show about that kind of preacher exciting and worth watching.

Actually it is exciting, because it helps set you free from injustice, inequality and discrimination.  Some people watching the show just want more stuff. They’re shouting, “Just bless my shackles!  Being rich and thinking money sets you free, gives you peace and eliminates injustice, is false.  Assimilation is NOT liberation.   You can have all the stuff you want and still not be whole. The true test of how you live your life and success is what will be written in your obituary.  What will people say about you, and what you did with your life? I’ve yet to see an obituary list all the expensive items someone owned.

A final word: The Preachers of LA does not depict what life is like for most preachers in LA or across the country for that matter.  For those of us who are Christians and wrestle with what we want versus who God wants us to become, the question each of us has to simply answer is this: “Is what you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”

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About the Author

Romal J. Tune

Romal J. TuneRev. Romal J. Tune is the Founder and Executive administrator of two touchstone entities that exemplify this mission; The national non-profit Faith for Change, which solicits community involvement with high-needs schools to keep kids in school and promote lasting academic achievement, and FFC Consulting, which engages and connects principals, companies, and organizations with the faith-based community at large. He is the author ofGod’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens.View all posts by Romal J. Tune →

  • autreterre

    Thank you Red Letter Christians for standing up to the modern day Empire no matter how unpopular it is to do so. Other people need to read this

  • Jason Wiedel

    I am a bit torn by this show. I think it is a disgusting portrayal of those who are supposed to be dedicated to the business of the Kingdom of God, but don’t we all know it is disgusting? Is it any different from “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”? Viewers watch shows like this not because they want to see the way real housewives, parents, or preachers behave, but because they have a morbid fascination with a disturbing segment of American society. We watch “Real Preachers of LA” because we know these people are not really like the ministers in our corner of the world. Admittedly, though, there is a confusion that occurs when we consume a lot of this kind of entertainment.

    I believe that there is a benefit when light is shined on any segment of our world. Light brings secret actions out into the open. Perhaps as people see the abusive lifestyle of the “Preachers of LA” they will reject a consumerist gospel. I just hope that it will push viewers to embrace the true Gospel of service and sacrifice exemplified in Jesus.

  • Abide Vine

    It’s OK, Romal. Look at it like this: The adversary is pure pride. Therefore, when “he” (it?) does adversarial things, they backfire and hindsight shows he/it was working for God all along despite his/its intentions to the contrary. These guys are in the wrong, but putting them on television amps it up and makes it into television, which is something of a caricature to begin with. This actually does the opposite of what it intends to celebrate by showing how ridiculous it is to mix God and mammon. I think, in psychology, it’s called “cognitive dissonance.”

  • bluecenterlight

    When I was in bible college and I heard an American pastor who was ministering in the Philippines speak. He said that one day a couple in his congregation handed him the keys for a Mercedes. They said we want to bless you. He told them to sell it and give it to the church. They told him that they wanted for him to personally have it ( I came from the “name it claim it” crowd so the pastor driving a nice car was sign of God blessing a church, I mean would you go to a church where the pastor drove a crappy car? geesh;) He told them I drive to slums. A place where people don’t know from day to day if they are going to eat. If I drive there in that car, do you think they will listen to anything that comes out of my mouth? We need more men like him.

    • Abide Vine

      We Americans can be counted on to commodify anything we get our hands on.

  • Joe

    I know it is so easy to blast these preachers for living a life of fame and wealth and criticize them for not being “true” servants of Jesus. What I find interesting is that many who criticize this show will have a house, one or two cars, probably even a savings account and live much greater than those in the rest of the world, simply because this is how America lives. The prosperity gospel is everywhere and for good reason, who really wants to go to a church where it is taught that church should be outside with the homeless or taking care of the prostitutes or drug users. Church should never be confined to a multi million dollar building so people can be comfortable singing or listening to a sermon or a specific teachers doctrine (hello John MacArthur and Driscoll) sorry I am getting off topic, but I believe this ties into American Christianity and why these churches and pastors thrive financially. TD Jakes, Joice Moyers..etc live way beyond their means, and I am not saying that is right at all..In the US we make up 5% of the worlds population yet use 50% of the resources..hmm. We need to look at the plank in our own eye before judging those on a reality show that at least have the balls to show their greed to the world. If Jesus said take care of the least of these, I am pretty American Christianity is the last thing he meant.

  • PG

    I believe a Pastor should be paid according to the income of the church, if the church takes in millions per year the pastor should make a very nice salary, if he can afford the finer things good for him!
    Whether we want to believe it or not the gospel is a prosperity gospel, “give and it shall be given to you” “bring your tithe into the storehouse, I will open the windows oh heaven”
    I see some of the pastors on the show doing a good job, the music guy don’t have a clue! lol!

    • “Bring your tithes and offerings into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” Now if you are making yourself God then I suppose it’s referring to you but I think God was was referring to His house not yours. Tithes and offering are supposed to be used for the uplifting of the body; not a building or one person and his house. No issues with a preacher making a living but if you put your personal prosperity before the needs of the people then you probably should go get a job. This is ministry and it’s not about you. We are preachers not predatory lenders. To be clear, nothing is wrong with having money just don’t rob God. “Will a man rob God? Yet you robbed me…in tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8) so if you jack God for the tithes and use it on yourself and not the people, are you not robbing God’s storehouse? Write a book, invest, start a business, if you want money there are plenty of ways to get it instead of on the backs of the poor and those believing it will be used for the upbuilding of the kingdom.

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