Beware of the Selfie Preacher; Celebrate the Gospel Preacher


In 2013 selfie was the Oxford word of the year. This indicates an ongoing and widespread cultural fascination with taking pictures of ourselves and sharing them with the public. Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with the practice. For centuries we have captured moments and shared them with others. It helps us to celebrate, remember, and even cherish times in our lives.

There are a couple of concerns that tend to arise in our snap-happy age. The first is the frequency. One study found that young women spend nearly an hour per day taking selfies. This would seem to be a bit of an unhealthy preoccupation with self. Another concern would be the creation of a pretend world. Selfies tend to create a reality for the one behind the camera. They are in charge and they control what others see. It creates a look, a feel, that presents us in our best light in a way that we approve of. This is simply not the real world. In the real world we are seen at our worst and often limp along together as we grow older and less photogenic.

My concern here is not primarily with selfie snapping teenagers however. Instead, I am concerned with the selfie culture in the pulpit. The Apostle Paul exhorts believers not to be conformed to the world (Rm. 12:2). If you had a word for the bottom, the irreducible core of what is wrong with the world it would be selfishness. Pride is the birth-mother of all sin. Therefore, if a world is awash in self then it is self that we need to be sure that we are not being conformed to. And, judging by how many preachers go about their sermons the warning to not be self-consumed should ring loudly in the preacher’s ears.

I want you to beware of the “selfie-preacher”. Here are some of his “tells” that he is one of the club.

He always talks about himself.

The selfie preacher lives in the first person singular. His favorite words are “I” and “me”. Some of the selfie preachers with the most followers have perfected this craft. They are phenomonal at their selfie sermons. They tell the stories in such a way that they tug at the heart, make you like them, and even “need” them. Like an Instagram account with thousands of followers these selfie preachers share the details of themselves that make you know and love them.

He hides his defects.

When he talks about himself the selfie preacher is always the hero of the story. Rarely—if ever—does the selfie preacher show himself to be a weak, desperate, depraved sinner who needs a strong, sufficient, righteous Savior. For the selfie-preacher, the pulpit is often a way for him to craft a story, and project his life in such a way that others begin to think that he has it all together.

He appeals to the flesh.

From his keen observance of or total baptism in the world the selfie preacher knows the power of the flesh. He gives alarming amounts of consideration to his “pastor fashion” each week. The selfie preacher is cool, funny, hip, and riding whatever cultural waves get him more cred with his audience. Some of the selfie preachers dip into the gutter of cultural backwater for illustrations and word pictures. Using sophomoric, crass, and even obscene language some selfie preachers will lace their sermons with fleshly terms to keep people engaged, interested, and entertained.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Erik Raymond