There are a lot of “rock-star” pastors these days. But, that’s nothing new. Heck, even before podcasts, blogs, and Twitter, people flocked to hear the big name preachers of their day (See: Whitfield, Spurgeon, Wesley, Finny, ect). It would seem that this can be traced all the way back to the early church where camps were forming around Paul and Apollos. (1 Corinthians 3:4)
One of the great problems with idolizing or over emphasizing a particular preacher, is that you often do so at the expense of hear what many other great preachers, like maybe the one in your church, has to say. This point was really brought home today as I was reading a biography on the great reformer, John Owen. It would appear that John himself was inclined to go and hear a “rock-star” of his day and, when a no-name preacher showed up, Owen almost missed out on hearing the very message that stirred his soul to God.
But the time had come when the burden was to fall from Owen’s shoulders; and few things in his life are more truly interesting than the means by which it was unloosed. Dr Edmund Calamy was at this time minister in Aldermanbury Chapel, and attracted multitudes by his manly eloquence. Owen had gone one Sabbath morning to hear the celebrated Presbyterian preacher, and was much disappointed when he saw an unknown stranger from the country enter the pulpit. His companion suggested that they should leave the chapel, and hasten to the place of worship of another celebrated preacher; but Owen’s strength being already exhausted, he determined to remain. After a prayer of simple earnestness, the text was announced in these words of Matt. 8:26, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Immediately it arrested the thoughts of Owen as appropriate to his present state of mind, and he breathed an inward prayer that God would be pleased by that minister to speak to his condition. The prayer was heard, for the preacher stated and answered the very doubts that had long perplexed Owen’s mind; and by the time that the discourse was ended, had succeeded in leading him forth into the sunshine of a settled peace. The most diligent efforts were used by Owen to discover the name of the preacher who had thus been to him “as an angel of God,” but without success.
John Owen, vol. 1, The Works of John Owen., ed. William H. Goold (Edinburg: T&T Clark), xxx–xxxi.
Reader, you don’t need a rock star preacher. Find a pastor that preaches God’s Word faithfully, and listen. It is likely God will use that preacher in far greater ways that a rock star.
Note: I grabbed the image of John Owen from Ocean’s Bridge. If you want to buy me a copy of the painting, I think the 72″x88″ one would be sweet! The original was was painted by John Greenhill and is currently in National Portrait Gallery, London.