Why I Quit Following (Most) Celebrity Pastors on Twitter and Maybe You Should, Too

I don’t know if you’ve had this problem, but lately I’ve found myself continually disheartened by much of what I’m reading from a few “celebrity” pastors on Twitter, Facebook and their blogs, to say nothing of the fuss that ensues. And frankly, it’s all a little bit tiring. So, I did the most helpful thing I could: I stopped following them. Here’s why I did, and why you might want to consider doing the same:

1. The Bible says so. Seriously. Christians are to have nothing to do with those who stir up divisions (Titus 3:10). Jude calls those who do worldly (Jude 19); Paul says such a person is warped, sinful and self-condemned (Titus 3:11). While I want to be careful in saying this, if a pastor—or anyone else for that matter—is quarrelsome, constantly stirring up controversy, being contentious or otherwise consistently acting in a way that is unbefitting of the conduct of a Christian, don’t give them an ear.

Instead of giving them an ear… Pray for them, just as we are (hopefully) praying for the leaders in authority over us. Remember, they’re just as sinful as we are. If our perceptions aren’t off and they’re really as bad as it seems from their social media habits, God will deal with them in His time.

2. They don’t care what you think. Celebrity pastors don’t really give a rip what you have to say in response to whatever they’ve tweeted or blogged that’s offended you. That might be a bit pessimistic, but here’s the thing: these guys hopefully have a lot of people in their lives to whom they are directly accountable. But you are not one of them. Without question, these pastors should be mindful to steward the influence they’ve been afforded carefully. And many are less careful than they ought to be, which is to their shame. God has placed their elders in their lives to hold them accountable and responsible for what they say and do—and if those men fail or their counsel goes unheeded, then God will deal with it.

Instead of trying to hold them accountable yourself... Pray for those in authority over them. Everyone has an authority over them, including celebrity pastors. And these men have been given the hard task of overseeing someone with a great deal of influence—so pray that God would give them clarity of mind and great courage to rebuke and correct them when required.

3. Focusing on someone else’s folly will only lead you to sin. The more time you spend being offended by something a celebrity pastor says, the more opportunities you’re giving the devil to gain a foothold. You really don’t have the time to be focusing on whatever insulting, shameful and ignorant thing they say.

Instead of nursing the wound… Forgive them and move on. Again, God will deal with them in His time and he will deal with those who foolishly squander their influence, foster division among God’s people or (God forbid) lead men and women into ungodliness through their “irreverent babble” (2 Tim. 2:16). Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to focus on their folly. Instead, “let all bitterness…be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31) and forgive them “as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

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  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

    What do mean by celebrity pastors?  Do you mean anyone who is known outside of his local church?

    What I tire of is seeing people I follow “re-tweet” the division.  There is one of my former Sunday school students who re-tweets someone I think needs a good spanking and some duct tape over his mouth.  Not sure if I can un-follow him.

    Sometimes, the constant division amounts to nothing more than fools addressing others according to their folly.  I certainly have no problem with someone addressing what he perceives as error, but after a while it is like beating a dead horse.

    • http://elehack.net/jennifer/ Jennifer Ekstrand

      It is possible to “Turn of Retweets” from your former student without unfollowing him; blocking the person whose original tweets you don’t want to see would also remove the tweets from your timeline. Those options don’t work if your former student is copying tweets and reposting them, but if they’re just clicking the retweet button, either option should work.

      • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

        Thanks for the heads up.  I’ll do that.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      By “celebrity” pastors, I’m speaking of the folks who are really more conference pastors—they get up and speak, but they aren’t really actively involved in shepherding people in a direct fashion.

      • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

        Okay, gotcha.  Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/TonyBoes Anthony Boes

    Solid advice.  Why waste the emotional energy?

    I just checked my list and I think the only follow some tame fake versions of a couple big name pastors.  Guilty pleasure.  They make me giggle.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Some of the “Fake” ones are awesome. I love @FakeJohnPiper:twitter  for example. It’s good natured silliness that even makes Piper laugh.

  • Liamkinnon

    I think this is really helpful. The only area I’d disagree on is their accountability. Most of these celebrity pastors are accoutable to no one. So their nonsense gets put out with no correction. Addressing it may do no good for them, but could be very helpful for those who are confused by their failures to be Christlike.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Indeed; I was hoping to give them the benefit of the doubt, though…

  • Ruggedgolfer

    I guess we have a different definition of “celebrity pastor” because as I scrolled through your list i found no les than 5 celeb pastors and or organizations they pastor. For example RC Sproul Jr while I think he is a stud can be among the worst of these!

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      I’m actually still in the process of unfollowing all that I want to. That said, there are a few that I’ll be keeping because they’re generally very edifying and helpful—Stetzer, Piper and Chandler are probably the biggest names on that list.

      • http://twitter.com/Jonathan_Howe Jonathan Howe

        Glad to see you kept Stetzer. ;-) (personal interest)

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          That’s how I roll. :)

          On a serious note, I love Ed and really appreciated having a brief chat with him a few weeks back (just after Christmas). Super guy.

          (PS, looking forward to hopefully connecting face-to-face on the 13th/14th, Jonathan)

      • Doc B

         So you consider Stetzer, Piper, and Chandler to be celebrity pastors?

        Who are the ones you aren’t keeping?

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          They’re definitely not guys who pursue “celebrity”, but they’ve got a pretty strong following so they could be considered such (although I’d hesitate to call them such). 

          As for guys I’ve dropped recently, I’m only going to give a clue (as I’m generally uncomfortable with naming names unless absolutely necessary) but they’re all guys who have been unrelentingly stirring up controversy of late with no signs of slowing down or chilling out. 

  • Mitch

    Yea I agree I am thinking of doing the same thing because we should focus on serving our local Congregation/church and those in it instead of focusing on some internet celebrity pastor whom you never see in real life. It’s best to focus on what God has given us instead of internet pastors or celebrities.

  • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com/ Craig Hurst

    I agree with much of what you say here with one quibble. You define below a celebrity pastor as basically a conference speaker with no local church participation. This seems to only fit for some of those people whom others view as celebrity pastors. For instance, John Piper and James McDonald are considered by many to be celebrity pastors but they don’t fit your definition. I know it would not be right to name names in your post but maybe distinguishing between these two kinds of celebrity pastors by naming someone who you do not consider to be one might make these great points more clear as to the kind of person you are talking about.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      That’s a great point, Craig. I was really struggling to avoid talking about specific people because many are folks I’ve had the opportunity to interact with on a personal level (albeit briefly)—that and I’m not a fan of “naming names” unless I absolutely must. I thought about linking to a few tweets as examples, but I’m not sure it would have been helpful. Still considering that.

  • bucknellarts

    Aaron,  Amen brother to everything you said!    And may I add, that this should also apply to the communications of every Christian  blogger/ Facebooker/ Tweeter – celebrity or not?    If it’s not edifying, don’t go there.   Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten that the world will know we’re His disciples by the love we have for one another.

  • Kevin Subra

    I’m not arguing (I hope), just seeking clarification. When is one causing division as opposed to admonishing someone? Some think exhortation or admonishment of any kind is what you are describing. Jesus and Paul admonished often, and often in public.

    I certainly am not trying to split hairs. There is just so much “blech” being thrown out as truth (quotes from authors, etc. posted without thought or discernment). When is it right to speak up? (Probably more of a personal question, but self-evaluation is good in this area, in addition to looking at others.) Thanks.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hey Kevin, great question. To my thinking, those who are causing division are those who are consistently pursuing either foolish actions or speaking without wisdom. Bloggers, Tweeters, etc. who constantly have their guns drawn, speak too quickly and shoot people. They are unwise. Pastors who continually ignore valid criticism from their peers (never mind “nobodies” like us)—they acting foolishly. 

      When it comes to speaking up, it’s always appropriate to confront a demonstrably false doctrine or idea. The prosperity gospel, open theism, modalism, the social gospel… these are a few examples. We can and must, no matter how uncomfortable it is, address these issues. Yet we must also do so with a desire to see people come to a knowledge of the truth. Even Paul’s harshest rebuke—that the Judaizers emasculate themselves if they really want to be holy—wasn’t a dismissive statement, but could probably be best understood as a reductio ad absurdum argument; that is, taking the argument to the furthest and most extreme conclusion in order to show how it makes no sense at all. Even in this harshness, there’s a love for his hearers, that they not be trapped by a false teaching and instead turn back to the truth. 

      Not sure if that directly answers the question, but I hope it does. Please let me know. 

  • http://www.praybuddy.com Chris @ PrayBuddy.com

    I will keep them in my prayers. I grow tired of any Christians who seem to want to stir up divisions within the church. We should be striving to live at peace with one another whenever possible. Of course, it’s impossible to never have conflict. We will have divisions as we will disagree with each other on issues. But whenever possible, we need to live in unity.

  • Ryan

    …what about Christian bloggers who do the same thing?

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Yep, it definitely applies there, too. 

  • http://www.CrazyAboutChurch.com/ Charles Specht

    I’ve been wondering about the same thing, as of late.  I appreciate your comments here.  Particularly #2.  They don’t care about what I think.

  • ArtieDavis

    Good word.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thank you, sir.

  • http://www.mhmcintyre.us Mark McIntyre

    Thanks for this. I suspect that some of the people to which you refer are celebrities because they are speaking to what people want to hear. Perhaps it is good stay abreast of what they are saying because it is representative of undercurrents within the church.

    My experience has been that God has used those who have peddled junk in the name of Christ to spur me on to study of Scripture and better clarification of my own beliefs.

    Your point is well taken that to try to hold these leaders accountable is a waste of time. I do think that it is helpful to those who would be lead astray to be able to articulate why the position is wrong and articulate a correct position. The celebrity’s blog is probably not the best forum for doing this.

    I remember a phrase that I first heard from Chuck Colson, “it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

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  • Sydney

    What do you consider a “celebrity pastor”? Some might consider great theologians such as John Piper a celebrity pastor, because he is widespread but I rather enjoy his tweets [and others similar to him].

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