My Ministry Syndrome and Celebrity Christianity
There is a phrase that we used to use in Bible school that I have all but purged from my vocabulary. It is the phrase “my ministry.” We used to ask each other, “What is your ministry?” Or confess, “I think evangelism will be my ministry.” Or even envision an organization led by one charismatic figure—his or her ministry.
Now, of course, we all have unique individual callings, but rarely does someone fulfill that call by themselves. Yes, when the disciples scattered after Stephen’s death, Phillip goes to Samaria alone, but what is the first thing he does when the Holy Spirit is poured out? He calls for apostolic backup, and those stalwarts Peter and John are sent.
We don’t see this concept of my ministry in the New Covenant. The only time the phrase is used is when Paul says, “I magnify my ministry” in his efforts to win Jewish people to Yeshua in Romans 11:13. But Paul was the ultimate team player. He begins his ministry serving Barnabas as a junior apostle. As the grace of God grew upon him, he becomes the team leader with Barnabas and John Mark. Later we see Paul with Silas, Timothy, and Titus.
Maybe no congregation was closer to Paul’s heart than Ephesus. He spent three and a half years there. He sends for the team of elders, not the senior leader alone. These are men that he raised up into leadership. From there, he goes to Jerusalem to meet with James? No, to meet with James and the Jerusalem Apostolic team (Acts 21:18).
To be effective in ministry, we need to work in teams. So often in western churches, you have one main charismatic figure, and all other staff supports him or her. I was once reprimanded by a ministry leader because when I answered the phone, I did not sufficiently illuminate the exploits of her husband.
Dick Iverson believes that with team ministry, the sky is the limit in terms of growth because you don’t have one person doing everything with only their gifts. In team ministry, you can see all of the Ephesians 4:11 gifts manifested through different people.
Hidden Message through Asbury Revival
I think one of the messages of the Asbury Revival was that God is a little tired of celebrity Christianity—something that has exploded with social media. The school purposely did not ask celebrity ministries to be involved. They kept using the term radical humility to describe what they felt the Lord expected from them. On their last night, they even asked Francis Chan and Rick Warren not to come. “[T]he Holy Spirit led the team behind the event to continue the gathering as ‘celebrity-free.’”
Of course, that did not stop celebrity ministers from coming. And it should not have, provided they were coming for the right reason—to seek God. And I’m sure many of them did. However, one disgraced evangelist who has been credibly accused of habitual sexual sins announced on Twitter that he was “booked” to be there several nights, giving the appearance that he had actually been invited (he had not). Another popular worship leader had someone videotape her driving to the revival with the title in huge letters on the video, “[name of famous worship leader] leader visits Asbury Revival.”
I have no doubt that other well-known ministers crawled into the chapel incognito, just looking for a corner to find the presence of God. There is no sin in being well-known or having a big platform—Jesus did, Paul did. The question is how we walk that out. Some ministers have bodyguards, while others want to build up the Body of Messiah. God sees the heart.
Daniel Dickard warns of the dangers of celebrity Christianity. “There are several ways to spot when the pastor becomes the CEO and walks on the red carpet of celebrity Christianity. When the pastor is CEO … bottom-line earnings become more important than biblical fidelity.” He says that ministry is a “cross-bearing enterprise, where self-surrender and sacrifice are required.”
In my own heart, God continues to expose the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16). We have to constantly examine our motives, particularly as the Lord enlarges our megaphones. My prayer is constantly that God would be able to trust me with what he wants to do through me. I am not 100% sure He can. May all that we do be for the glory of Yeshua.
And that is a lot easier to do when you minister in teams, where you are held accountable by others.
 Those first four paragraphs are from Chapter 10 of Follow His Lead, a book I wrote a few years ago on leadership. Ron Cantor, Follow His Lead, Discover the Secrets to Successful Leadership from a Pastor who learned on the Job (Tel Aviv:: Messiah’s Mandate, 2019), 75.  Dick Iverson, Team Ministry, Putting together a team that makes churches grow (Portland: City Bible Publishing, 1984), 2.  Christa, “Well-known speakers Francis Chan and Rick Warren do not join Asbury gathering to make it celebrity-free,” GOD TV, February 27, 2023, https://godtv.com/well-known-speakers-francis-chan-and-rick-warren-do-not-join-asbury-gathering-to-make-it-celebrity-free.  Daniel Dickard, Church Together, The church of WE in the age of ME (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2022), 14.  Dickard, 13.