The other day I saw a video clip of Ed Stetzer where he referred to “ministry pornography.” He was speaking of a group of megachurch pastors who might be perceived by normal church pastors in an unhealthy way. This is how he put it:
Ministry pornography is an unrealistic depiction of an experience you are never going to have that distracts you from the real and glorious thing. …It is an unrealistic dream that does not let you love the people you are with right now, and not see them as a stepping stone to something bigger.
The terminology is provocative, but the point deserves pondering. Are we guilty of “lusting” after a ministry image that has been airbrushed, or a preaching style that has been edited for radio? Does this interest in some of the contemporary big names cause us to lose a godly love for those we are supposed to be caring for? I’ve certainly seen churches left hurt by pastors who seemed to be using them as a stepping stone to the next bigger invitation.
What is the solution? Unlike true pornography, I wouldn’t say we should avoid looking at the ministries of those we appreciate. Cold turkey is not necessary here, but discernment surely is. Rather than develop a complex model of advice, I’ll just keep it simple. I think we need to be sure to keep the conversation going with our Lord, being real about all aspects of our feelings and motivations, asking Him to search us and know us. Surely He is able to help us learn from, but not be harmed by, the airbrushed world of big church ministry.