Instagram Account PreachersNSneakers Reveals Pricey Clothing of Celebrity Pastors

By Jackson Elliott

Isaiah says the feet of those who bring good news are beautiful. But the feet of megachurch pastors are both beautiful and expensive, according to Instagram account PreachersNSneakers.

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 of the pastoral fashion choices are as absurd as they are expensive. Some of the pastors sport tank tops with suits, psychedelically colorful T-shirts, and matching plaid shoes and shirts.

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 ElliottJackson 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.

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discussion

23 thoughts on “Instagram Account PreachersNSneakers Reveals Pricey Clothing of Celebrity Pastors”

  1. Cue the comments about how we don’t know how much they give and how divisive it is to point out the shameful hypocrisy of preaching a humble, penniless, sacrificial Savior while spending enough on your wardrobe to feed an African village for months.

    The flock is being fleeced and while that is shameful and abhorrent, those poor sheep have Bibles. I’m worried about a lost world watching and seeing that the emperor is buck naked (‘cept for them yeezys) and not know that this is NOT Christianity.

    I am reminded of a challenge Richard Wurmbrand said his wife gave him in the midst of other church leaders all kowtowing to the government: “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.”

    When will the pew warmers in these congregations read their Bibles, meet Jesus, and wipe the spit off His lovely face by walking out of these so-called churches?

  2. Just a reality. Most in the Evangelical world go to Church for the purpose of entertainment. I would speculate that if a zchurch has over 500 regular attendees. Maybe as low as 300 that the majority of the attendees are there for the entertainment value. If the Church is more than 50% in the Millenial, Gen X, Zoomer generation will guarantee the majority are there for the Rock Concert. Got a Senior Pastor under age 40? Same thing. . Point is we in the U.S love our Charlatan Preachers.

    1. Many evangelicals,and non-believers, in America go to network and get clients..shameful as that is. I think it is time to clean up what goes on within our 4 walls. Enough is enough. Stop giving money to these people and buying their books. You are making them filthly rich. The really bad part is that America exports this rubbish to other countries.

  3. A culture accepting of moral relativism willing and able to accept materialistic neo-paganism as Christianity rightly proceeds as it does. Is it we have yet to come to terms with how many, how wide spread, and how popular anti-Christianity is within churches that are labeled and thus recognized as Christian.

  4. Keith J Norris

    Evangelicalism today is a mile wide and an inch deep. I noticed this trend years ago when many Christian bookstores turned from selling serious theological works to selling “trinkets”.

    1. Keith,

      Those overpriced trinkets, knickknacks, and kitsch in Christian bookstores have been referred to as “Je$u$ Junk” by critics. You can Google the term (I think there was a website or two that highlighted the worst retail items back in the day).

  5. Christine Schmidt

    Please let’s not call these people Christian Pastors. They are greedy wolves out to devour and destroy weak worldly people who want their ears tickled and their feet shod not with the gospel of reconciliation, but with crass gaudy excess of this world. Lord have mercy!!

  6. We had a sweet man in our church (45 years ago) who bought our pastor and associate pastor a new suit each. They didn’t have the means to go out and buy themselves a new suit. They were so appreciative!!

  7. Grainne Mcdonald

    It is not just the ‘hip’ pastors who get rich. John MacArthur , David Jeremiah and others have also been alleged to have made very large salaries and incomes from book sales, conferences and ‘mission’ which, if true, are excessive. Ravi Zachariah, as has been shown, fell, not only for sexual abuse, but for lying about finance and avoiding financial scrutiny. I often note the well groomed hair and expensive suits of the famous preachers and leaders of all persuasions, from Reformed to Charismatic.

    1. You make a good point. It seems pastors from all across the board are getting rich—the only difference is that the hip ones make no effort to hide that fact.

  8. Julie, how can you be such a Neanderthal! You can’t possibly expect a celebrity pastor/Christian celebrity to go to such humble non-flashy place like Target or Walmart and purchase shoes and and other apparel and budget themselves for the entire ensemble for somewhere around $50 or less can you? I’m sure you know that money is for spending especially the kind of money that isn’t actually yours!!!

  9. “Our brand is the gospel. Our brand is Jesus. We’re trying to sell the good news of who Jesus is.”

    Sums it up pretty well, I’d say.

    1. No one has any idea where the clothes come from or their hearts. No one has any idea what they paid for such clothes. Did they save up for two years? Did they get them as a gift from a rich uncle?

      So we jump to conclusions and judge them? This comes off as nothing more than sin on the accusers side.

      Me personally, I like expensive clothing bc it simply fits better and looks better. However, I always get the expensive stuff on eBay or Poshmark for a fraction of the cost. Sometimes even used. No one needs to know any of that.

      We have no idea on any of this stuff. Why judge these people when there is no proof and not even worth discussing? All You are doing is creating drama and hurting the church.

      Who cares how much their clothes are? Does it really matter?

  10. Preachersnsneakers does delve into boots and some other trendy footgear and apparel as well, but there remain multiple related possibilities begging for coverage, e.g. preachers n houses, vehicles, watches, jewelry, purses/handbags, etc., with equal time for preachers’ spouses/partners too.

    That there are enough superficial people in the world to make it possible for such outrageously overpriced attire to exist is already sad enough, but that some of them are preachers…

    “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (Luke 6:24)

  11. What happened to the example that Jesus himself gave us. He came into this world with nothing and died with nothing. We don’t need these things. They are just a distraction away from the Lord and what His word really teaches. HUMBLE yourself is the key. Around the world there are so many persecutions against Christians. These people have nothing, why are we not helping them more? This is not a judgement call but let’s get back to the reality of the Bible. The world is watching us and the example we are setting and it is not good since the 1st century church. We are under constant attack by Satan who is for sure seeking who he may devour even more so now than ever before.

  12. We love the form
    But deny the power
    Our vanity
    Rules the hour
    Just pretty people
    With a fancy steeple
    While the lights grow dim
    Will we ever shine again

    Welcome to the Sunday morning show
    Let’s be entertained then we can go
    Powerless for another week or so
    Welcome to the Sunday morning show

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