Bad joke

The other day I made a “money joke” with some of our staff members. It was about how Pastors use their positions to “fleece” people for money. One of my colleagues urged me not to even joke about this and referred me to this fast-growing Instagram account, PreachersnSneakers.

Ah no

I quickly looked up the account and I was amused at first, then, well then, saddened.

You have a great point

In many ways I can sympathise with this dude and his followers. It’s really not about the cost of a pair of shoes, but about a perception of how preachers earn and spend their money.

Occupational hazard

Being a pastor for the past 40 years, I have experienced my fair share of criticism and shaming. A favourite remark is, “What do you actually do all week? You only work for an hour on Sunday”.  And of course, there are the occasional remarks and snide comments about money!

Preachers are in the public eye, and therefore will attract both detractors and fans. It’s a kind of occupational hazard.  

Some people are not happy

But, back to my PreachernSneakers dude. The alarming thing on his IG account are some of the comments by followers. We pastors have really pi**ed off a lot people. And this is not a surprise to me.

Many of the comments are true, but it’s not quite the full story. We often generalise things when we already have a bias. I thought, of all the pastors out there, which ones can actually afford expensive sneakers?

Is there a balance?

My guess is, some pastors are given expensive stuff, while others are in a position where they earn enough money to buy expensive stuff. But, even if they can afford expensive stuff, should they spend it on expensive stuff? We all figure Jesus didn’t so why do they?

My view of things

Anyway, my own perception is that the so called “celebrity pastors” have the opportunity to earn the bucks to buy $1,000 shoes. The Pastors wearing $1,000 sneakers generally come from megachurches or big ministries. And how many of them are there?

What do the numbers say?

So, I crunched some numbers and made some educated assumptions.

I have used USA stats because they are the most reliable. But I reckon this could be transferred to most countries in the world where Christianity is easily expressed.

There are about 384,000 churches in the USA. Of these, 1650 are mega churches. A mega church is considered to be a church with 2000 or more people attending Sunday services. However, the average size of a congregation in America is 75.

Here are some other stats about pastors you might find interesting.

Megachurches should not be the standard

This means that megachurches make up 0,004% of all churches in America. If 50% of all churches have a full-time pastor (which I think is conservative) and Mega Churches have 10 pastors on staff (even though, only the top guys will earn enough for expensive shoes or be given expensive shoes) that means that around 0,01% of pastors are wearing expensive sneakers. That is one expensive-sneaker-wearing-pastor to every 1000 pastors.

It’s actually not about sneakers.

I know it’s not about sneakers. But the point I am making is that there are truckloads of women and men trying their level best to lead churches. Even if you don’t like church and pastors, give them a break for at least trying to help people to live better lives. Most of the pastors I know aren’t earning a lot of money and never went into the ministry to make money and don’t have $1000 sneakers.

Us Pastors need to discuss this

However, the PreachersnSneakers dude does raise the question of what kind of image pastors project. And it is worth a discussion.  Even if one can afford expensive stuff, should a pastor buy the stuff?

If not, should the same thing not apply to all Christ followers?

Having said all that, I do wish some of the more highly profiled pastors would be more aware of how people see them. Their ability to wear or have expensive stuff does affect all of us in ministry. And I am sure they are sick of the “moderation” discussion, as one person’s moderation is another’s excess! But this should continue to be a tension to manage. And PrechersnSneakers and his followers are worth listening too.

Don’t let others determine your response

Finally and importantly, I am saddened that people leave the faith because of someone else’s behaviour. This means they are being controlled by the badly-behaved or excessive Pastor or Christian. And that can’t be good.


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