A while back I wrote a blog post called, I'm a Christian Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here, where I pointed out that Christian celebrities, micro-celebrities, and influencers face the temptation to be less Christian and more celebrity in their attitudes and behaviours.
And Lo and behold, Katelyn Beaty then brought out her book Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church, which is a great diagnosis of the problem of how celebrity culture can infect Christian notions of church leadership and ministry. Here’s the book blurb:
Many Christian leaders use their fame and influence to great effect. Whether that popularity resides at the local church level or represents national or international influence, many leaders have effectively said to their followers, "Follow me as I follow Christ." But fame that is cultivated for its own sake, without attendant spiritual maturity and accountability, has a shadow side that runs counter to the heart of the gospel. Celebrity--defined as social power without proximity--has led to abuses of power, the cultivation of persona, and a fixation on profits.
In light of the fall of famous Christian leaders in recent years, the time has come for the church to reexamine its relationship to celebrity. Award-winning journalist Katelyn Beaty explores the ways fame has reshaped the American church, explains how and why celebrity is woven into the fabric of the evangelical movement, and identifies many ways fame has gone awry in recent years. She shows us how evangelical culture is uniquely attracted to celebrity gurus over and against institutions, and she offers a renewed vision of ordinary faithfulness, helping us all keep fame in its proper place.
As it goes, Aimee Byrd and I did an interview with Katelyn about her book and it was a fun discussion that included everything from Taco Bell to the culpability of publishers like Katelyn for creating these Christian celebrities. You can listen to the audio or else watch the video below.