Monday, September 21, 2015

Why Don't Lutherans Have Celebrity Pastors?

Yesterday morning the pastor of the church I attend--a pretty mainstream evangelical congregation in the Evangelical Free Church denomination--was preaching up a storm about the "mandate" of the church to "transform" the culture for Christ. (For the record, I am not comfortable with this kind of ecclesiastical mission for the reasons that Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, articulates here).  On several occasions, when the preacher made an important point, people in the congregation started clapping.  If I did not know better I would have thought I was attending a political rally.

Large evangelical churches are known for their celebrity pastors.  But the author of the blog Alive Lutheran (a convert to Lutheranism from Reformed Presbyterianism) want to know why there are no celebrity pastors in Lutheranism.  He writes:

... why don’t we have any celebrity pastors ...? I suspect that it is because Lutheranism is not glitzy or relevant…but rather boring. And that is not a terrible thing. We Lutherans view the purpose of attending church differently from our evangelical friends. While they chiefly view worship as something we do for God, because he deserves it or is owed it, we, on the other hand, view worship as the place where we receive forgiveness in Word and Sacrament. The paradigm difference is likely to dampen any efforts for a Lutheran pastor to gain wide adulation or even acceptance in the court of evangelical public opinion.  I mean, can anyone imagine a celeb pastor wearing a clericl, an alb, and a stole? 

"Lex Lutheran," a blogger at Lutheran Knuckleheads, also takes up this question.  See his post here

And then there is Mark Noll's essay "The Lutheran Difference" in which he described Lutherans as "remarkably unremarkable."  Maybe that has something to do it with.