Why the Church Needs Role Models Not Rock Stars

By Julie Roys
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“The church needs more role models, not rock stars.” So said Michele Perry, founder of Create61, on last Saturday’s Up For Debate program on celebrity pastors. Her words immediately resonated with me and I was thrilled to discover after the program that Michele had written this terrific article on the topic. With her permission, I am sharing it with you now.Also, if you missed the program, I strongly encourage you to listen to the podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire discussion with Michele and Wes Yoder, founder and president of Ambassador Speakers. Though both acknowledged that God definitely gives certain leaders great platforms and influence, they warned Christians against putting leaders on pedestals – and leaders from succumbing to the trappings of celebrity culture. – Julie

By Michele Perry

Apostle. Prophet. Evangelist. Pastor. Teacher. I have seen all of these titles on business cards through the years. I have even seen all of them on one business card at the same time along with psalmist and bishop added for good measure. Just covering the bases I’m sure, in extremely small print.

I’ve been at events where folks have come up to me with their invisible clipboard and checklist. The exchange usually goes something like this:

“So, what are you?” {Expectant pause.}
{Urrr, what ever happened to “Hi, what’s your name, how are you doing? I wonder silently while smiling and trying not to look confused.}
“Well, I’m in love. What are you?” {I squelch the incredible urge to throw 4’9″, single, female and grad student into my answer as well.}
“No no, what ministry do you have?” comes the reply.
“The ministry of showing up, and you?”
At which point I have either failed the invisible checklist challenge or become sufficiently interesting to have a real conversation with.

I have repeatedly told the people I’m privileged to run with, mentor and serve, “The only reason I want to raise my ceiling is to raise your floor.” I’m not after a bigger house. My art studio, office and living quarters nestle cozily in a little over 700 square feet. Small is the new big. Less to clean. Less to deal with. More time for what matters. I’m not after a bigger ministry organization or a more impressive anything. I have nothing to prove. Period. I simply want to love well and be faithful. What happens beyond that is entirely in Jesus’ hands.

The church doesn’t need more rock stars. We need real, raw role models of authenticity, humility, love and grace.

Can I be just plain honest? When I see “apostle” or “prophet” on a business card, I can’t help but think we have got it all turned around and upside down. (I do know some of the titles are cultural depending on what church stream is represented. But isn’t it time we lined the “culture” of the church up with His Kingdom?)

I believe wholeheartedly in the apostolic and the prophetic. But they are functional job descriptions, not badges of honor, sources of identity or official ministry titles.

The apostolic and prophetic are foundation laying functions in the Body. Their job descriptions are not to be at the top leading the charge but at the bottom: in the muck, digging deep for the foundation posts only to be stepped on, walked over, unseen, hidden and be the one people build on top of. Ahem, any takers?

Like all of the ministries mentioned in Ephesian 4, their calling is not to have a huge ministry functioning in the gift of ______ themselves but to take all God has given them and become a key that unlocks the Body of Christ around them to move in these ways.

I once had a chat with some friends about all this. The question came up was it wrong to “honor” the “prophet”  or the “apostle” or the “______” for his or her gift and call him by the title he or she desires. My response. “Yes. It sure is.”

“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” -Jesus in Mt 23:8-11 NKJV

Rabbi was not used only for clergy, it could also be translated as an “official title of honor” or “master” and  Jesus clearly said, “Don’t go there.”

We don’t honor people because of what they can do for us, we honor them because as a person created in God’s image and dearly loved by Him they are worthy of honor. We appreciate their talents and gifts. But a spiritual gift is a gift of grace not a merit badge of performance.

What impresses me is not someone’s gift. What impresses me is their character. The very real truth is great gifts can take you places immature and untransformed character can’t sustain you in. Yes, let’s pursue the all Jesus has for us in the realm of gifting, but let’s pursue intimacy and transformation in Him 100x more.

The church has ever only needed one true rock star. And His name is Jesus. He is the Rock, the bright Morning Star. My heart burns for a company of people so in love with Him, they will grow into His fullness and release those around them to do the same.


About the Author

Michele PerryMichele Perry is the founder of Create61 and River Tree Creative based in Jacksonville, Florida. She is an illustrator & author who spent seven years in an African war zone as the founder of an international development and ministry base with a children’s rescue home. You can find her online at BravelyYou.com.


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