On the Latest Controversy

It was a terribly sad Sunday.

As I stood before the people, preparing to pray with them, I was met with many saddened faces. And yet a few seemed to have a cheery disposition, as if a great victory had been one. I knew what was going on. Clearly our church was divided by the latest controversy launched on the internet.

They, like me, had read the scathing article on Friday evening exposing Pastor Celebrity. And so, I knew that the smiling faces were those excited that the latest celebrity pastor had been exposed. Likewise, I knew the frowns were indicative of the sorrow one feels when their leader has fallen.

After the service I talked with a few of those frowning faces. “So, I take it that you heard, about Pastor Celebrity?”

His frown now turned to confusion as he responded with an astonished, “Who?”.

Now, I’m the one confused. “How could he not have heard? How is he claiming to not even know this guy—much less the controversy surrounding him over the weekend”?

As he talks a little more—and I start to check out from boredom—he tells me about losing his job on Friday, his fear, worry, and a bunch of other stuff that matters little. Obviously, this dude isn’t in the know, and isn’t saddened by the significant. I move on to the next frowning face.

One by one, these frowning faces tell me that their problem has little to do with Pastor Celebrity—an important guy that they’ve only vaguely heard of. They’ve got sadness coming from other places; things that don’t threaten to unravel the very fabric of Christianity.

As I get in my car I wonder to myself, “How could I have such an ignorant church? These poor people don’t know about all of the significant issues that are happening in the church today. They aren’t even taking sides in these debates—these very significant church-impacting debates. It’s like they don’t even care.”

As I back out of my parking space, I mutter a little prayer that they’d care about the things that really matter.

Most of what we bloggers consider earth-shattering and church-impacting rarely even hits the people in the pews. Most of the people in your congregation haven’t heard the name of your favorite blogger. Ever.

But they have heard of Joel Osteen. And that latest Joyce Meyer book is flowing through the veins of your women’s ministry.

Meanwhile, pastors and bloggers that ought to be shielding sheep from these soul-raping thieves are spending time knocking out the knees of a celebrity blogger/pastor that has little to no impact on their local congregation.

In my opinion, we’ve overestimated the impact of our social media platform. We assume that if our reach is wide that it must also be deep. We give ourselves an unbiblical position within the local church as if Paul included “blogger” in Ephesians 4:11-12. We’ve convinced ourselves that our debates and discussions are more significant than the aroma of Christ that follows Ernie the electrician into every home that he helps.

Don’t misunderstand my point. Bloggers—especially those with larger platforms—excel at impacting those that will impact other local churches. At least we have the potential to do that. Until we get our head in the clouds and lose our focus.


  1. says

    How much of the first part boils down to the blithe assumption that the way I see things is pretty much the way other people see things, too (which in some circles goes by the name egocentricity)? That is by no means limited to bloggers, though from some of the arguments I’ve seen in blogdom, it’s not uncommon. It’s certainly a major hindrance to being able to listen well.

  2. dr. james willingham says

    Not everything, not even much of anything, relates to the average Mr. and Mrs.John and Doe believer in the pew other than the perspectives of his or her daily life. And that is for good or bad, depending on how one looks at it as Mike has indicated in an utterly one-sided farce. Very good, Mike. Very, very good.

  3. Greg Harvey says

    I think some of the warning in the article boils down to the same thing that leads to confirmation bias: that whatever we notice is somehow important. The even worst part about that is that the thoughts we think are in some way “better” thoughts than others think and that our understanding is “better” than the understanding of others.

    That isn’t an argument that “everyone is the same” or even that “there are so many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is still the same” (a line from a Little River Band song that I love to annoy people with.) It’s that we cannot afford to drink our own bathwater.

    • says

      Greg: This sounds very similar to Daniel Kahneman’s WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) bias: the blithe assumption that there are no relevant or significant factors outside of your knowledge: all the information that sits before you on a particular subject is sufficient to come to a valid conclusion. I see plenty of that in the online discussion world.

  4. says

    While many do not know Mark Driscoll or Janet Mefford, this controversy will impact many in the long run since both have a lot of influence among many and will impact our churches in the long run. But on the other hand, the loss of a member’s job is more important in the short run and needs our attention and energy more than keeping up with the latest controversy.