The recent sad article on the faith of Australian pop star Guy Sebastian has served to bring back the pathetic memories I have of Australian churches (especially charismatic ones) desperately trying to gain some sort of "street cred" through "christianizing" someone famous. If some rock star or famous sportsman gives the slightest hint of any sort of spirituality there is a bandwagon of church leaders ready to claim him as their own. I know this is not exclusive to Australia, but as an Aussie I can readily recount the continuous stream of embarrassing outcomes that have occurred because of this. I am just one of many bearing the scars of this practice when, as a young and impressionable Christian, went through the trauma of seeing some of these "christian celebrities" living in blatant unrepentant sin without having a shred of Christian testimony.
If you think I am trying to take some high moral ground here, think again! I take my issue here not with those popular and famous people who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny Him by their lifestyle (Matthew 25:31-46, 1 John 3:4-10), but with those pastors and church leaders who seem to think that the test of someone's Christianity is whether they call themselves a Christian. Worse than that, it has now descended to the point where talking about God or some "higher power"is enough to enter through the narrow gate.
I have seen the cavalcade of stars welcomed into the fold and thrust into the limelight as role models for under-achieving Christians and pagans who think we are not as cool as they are. Australian names like Tommy Emmanuel, Rebecca Gibney, Rick Price, Jason Stevens, Darren Beadman, and now Guy Sebastian readily spring to mind though there are many others. Globally, I have been told of the "strong Christianity" of Bono, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Mariah Carey etc. etc.
Am I suggesting that all celebrities who claim to be Christians are false? Absolutely not! In fact, I have a good personal friend who happens to be a celebrity and has also shown himself over many years to bear the authentic fruit of genuine Christianity. But what I am suggesting is that biblical pastoral responsibilities demand that church leaders soberly shepherd, protect, and inspect the fruit of those who have a high public profile and identify with the Lord Jesus Christ. The tragedy of failing to do this is three fold:
First, if a celebrity walks the aisle, signs the card, and repeats the prayer; it does not mean that they need to deliver next weeks sermon. Give them space and obscurity to meditate on God's Word, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and demonstrate the authenticity of their faith within the setting of the local church. I cannot describe the anguish of sitting through wildly promoted Christian events with a major celebrity drawcard only to see him arrive on stage, receive the adulation of the masses, give some sort of motivational speech, never mention Jesus Christ, exit the stage, collect his check, and then jump in his car and drive home hours before the event even finishes. This is just straight-up shameful on the part of those who arrange and organize these events.
Secondly, this practice sets up impressionable church goers for disappointment and diverts their attention away from the sole Hero of the universe.
, and appear at major Christian events (to draw a crowd)