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Is a Celebrity Church Good for Building Up Your Faith?

Is a Celebrity Church Good for Building Up Your Faith?

It’s unclear just what sign of the times this may be, but increasing media attention is now paid to churches where celebrities hang out—regardless of the doctrine being taught there.

Perhaps the most notorious personality suddenly in the church circle is hip-hop artist Kanye West, also known as Yeezy. His invitation-only Sunday service features West in all-white clothing, backed by a similarly attired choir. As music industry publication Billboard described one such event, “The session led by West, who was backed by a roaring gospel choir and drummers draped in all-white YEEZY garments. West stood out amongst the bunch sporting his new rainbow-colored hairstyle, looking happily right at home behind his ASR keyboard.”

West announced he would also bring a Sunday service event to the 2019 Coachella music festival, coinciding with Easter Sunday. Celebrities such as Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Courtney Love have attended Kanye Sunday services in the past.

A Celebrity Church Rush

Of course, West isn’t the only celebrity gracing church doors these days. Pop-music heartthrob Justin Bieber recently married Hailey Baldwin (daughter of Stephen Baldwin, a noted film actor and evangelical Christian) after the pair connected at weekly services held by Hillsong, a Pentecostal church started in Australia, which has expanded to locations worldwide.

Other famous names spotted at Hillsong include Chris Pratt and fiancé Katherine Schwarzenegger, Selena Gomez, and U2 frontman Bono. For many in the limelight, Hillsong is the place to be, or at least to be seen.

Connecting people in the public eye with religion is nothing new, of course. When the late evangelist Billy Graham first preached to stadium-sized crowds in Britain decades ago, a young Queen Elizabeth II, newly into her reign and head of the Church of England, summoned Graham to Buckingham Palace to hear him speak and to discuss the intricacies of the Christian faith.

During the 1960s, members of the rock band The Beatles attracted no small measure of attention when they flocked to the “transcendental meditation” teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, leading more than a few fans to follow in their footsteps. The conflation of fame and faith provided an immeasurable boost to what was then a fledgling religion in the west.

For years, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, was senior pastor at Marble Collegiate Church on the lower reaches of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Many celebrities would show up for worship, including the late Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, and, in the 1980s and 1990s, a Manhattan real estate developer named Donald J. Trump.

Another name well known to millions, the late radio newscaster Paul Harvey, attended weekly services at the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church in Phoenix, camouflaged in a cowboy hat to avoid notice. Harvey would also arrive shortly after worship began to avoid recognition.

A Celebrity Gospel?

But is there any benefit to attending a church favored by the famous?

A young woman who’d moved to New York City from Dalton, Georgia, seeking her own time in the spotlight might believe so. Marla Maples, then an aspiring model, caught the eye of real estate mogul Trump at Marble Collegiate Church. Not long after, she became his second wife—and the subject of tabloid newspaper gossip for years to follow.

Others will go to church in the hope of seeing their celebrity “idol,” which is why parishioners such as Justin Bieber likely take pains to avoid disrupting a service. Then again, the late arrival of rock legend “Little Richard” Pettyman at a church service one Sabbath morning couldn’t fail to turn heads, given the entourage of ten people who entered the sanctuary along with him that day.

The question, then, rests on the purpose someone has for going to a church service in the first place. If you’re attending in order to gawk at this or that prominent person, you might get your wish, even if today’s security-conscious celebs are accompanied by discrete bodyguards who know how to ease fans out of the way.

But what if the purpose—the essential reason—for a church service is not to provide a showcase for celebrity, but rather to worship the Creator of the universe? What if our motivation for attending weekly worship is to learn more about the God who made us, who loves us, and who created us to live with Him in paradise?

Surely that would put a different focus on things, wouldn’t it? Our concern wouldn’t be with who’s in the next seat over, other than to welcome them and to share fellowship, but rather with Who is spiritually present. We wouldn’t strive for a “selfie” with this or that “A-lister,” instead, we would seek to align our individual selves with God!

The issue of “The Sabbath and Worship” occupies many places in Scripture, including key verses in the book of Revelation. This free video presentation offers unique insights that will help you focus on the real “star” of the Sabbath day—Jesus!