The Instagram sleuth behind the account, Ben Kirby, started investigating the clothing of megachurch pastors in 2019. While listening to a song from Elevation Worship, a Charlotte, North Carolina megachurch, he noticed the worship leader wore Yeezy sneakers worth about $800.
It was just the beginning.
After a joking post asking for a payroll position with Elevation Worship from his personal account, Kirby began to research the price of pastoral pomp. He created PreachersNSneakers to reveal his discoveries.
In the celebrity pastor world, $500 shoes are comparatively thrifty. Some megachurch leaders spend thousands on their shoes, and even more for the rest of their attire.
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The Instagram account’s highlights include Your Destiny Church pastor Steven Chandler’s $8,100 Jordan 1 Retro High Diors, New Life Covenant Southeast Pastor John Hannah’s $2,580 plaid jacket, and Relentless Church pastor John Gray’s $9,625 denim parka.
Kirby’s Instagram feed often showcases form Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz, New Destiny Christian Center’s pastor Paula White, and The Potter’s House pastor T.D. Jakes.
Lentz recently was fired from Hillsong after it became public knowledge that he had committed adultery.
Many megachurches also sell their own clothing merchandise.
Celebrity pastors including Lentz, Chad Veach, Rich Wilkerson Jr., and Judah Smith all dress expensively. Some justify the expense by arguing that their clothes help attract people to church, and ultimately, Christ.
“Ultimately, what is our brand?” Veach said to Fashionista magazine. “Our brand is the gospel. Our brand is Jesus. We’re trying to sell the good news of who Jesus is.”
After his first month of posts in 2019, Kirby had over 100,000 followers. Currently, his account has 241,000 followers.
Kirby’s most recent posts have focused on the lack of accountability for pastors who get rich off ministry.
“Some of the most popular churches in America are still led by one senior pastor couple with seemingly no accountability. What’s the worst that could happen??” he said in one post.
Kirby told The Washington Post that he is an evangelical Christian. He also said that the current culture of celebrity preachers shows that some may prize money over God.
“I began asking, how much is too much?” he said. “Is it okay to get rich off of preaching about Jesus? Is it okay to be making twice as much as the median income of your congregation?”
Kirby has his own website, where he sells PreachersNSneakers-themed clothing. The outfits include $45 T-shirts, $58 hoodies, and $44 baseball caps. On April 27, he plans to release his book, Preachers N Sneakers: Authenticity in an Age of For-Profit Faith and (Wannabe) Celebrities.
The book explains how hip pastors use their fame to make money as motivational speakers, celebrities, and consultants.
“These institutions and their leaders celebrate and reward the ‘blessing’ of fame, popularity and influence,” Kirby wrote in his book. “Pastors function like ‘talent’ performing for an audience or like a spokesman for the church’s ‘brand.’”
But shoes and celebrity don’t make a saint, he said.
“People aren’t going to reach God without this guy wearing Yeezys? Come on,” he said to The Washington Post.
“The Lord works in mysterious colorways,” the site’s banner reads.
CORRECTION: Ben Kirby’s book, Preachers N Sneakers: Authenticity in an Age of For-Profit Faith and (Wannabe) Celebrities, has not yet been released. It will be released on April 27, 2021. This copy has been corrected.
Jackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.