In a day when the church has the reputation of being more about means than ministry, Oxygen Channel’s “Preachers of L.A.” comes to reality just in time to reinforce negative stereotypes about the church and its leadership. Set in the land of milk and honey “Preachers of L.A.” provides the world with a beyond the veil view into the lives of five scripture quoting bible toting flamboyant pastors.
Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Pastor Deitrick Haddon, and Bishop Ron Gibson by all appearances come off more like an R&B group than shepherds. Maybe appropriately if they were a group they’d be the Temptations, as they put on display their struggles, relationship battles, and regular human fallacies.
“The only reason I signed up was to help to reduce the iconoclastic proclivities that church members have about their pastors to the point where if they break any of the rules that the church members are breaking, they completely throw them away.” say Bishop Noel Jones. Help reduce the iconoclastic proclivities that church members have about their pastors? My Lord, I wonder how church members develop such strong and enduring proclivities. Is it because by their own doing that pastors have been made to be viewed as iconoclastic?
This is an example of some things being better left undisclosed. Most Christians and believers of other faiths as well, know that their leaders are only human. Yet, aspiration is a powerful elixir and rightfully reserved for those who justifiably see their pastors as spiritual role models. I don’t want to see my pastor living/behaving like me or 50 Cent for that matter. I don’t want to know my pastor needs the same (it’s cheaper to keep her) advice that I just gave a friend. I don’t want my pastor to be more entrenched in fashion brands than Kanye West or be as detailed and meticulous about European vehicles as Brian
“Baby” Williams. In fact I want my leaders to be different than me. I’m not worried about them being analog or digital, virtual or real life, but whatever they are I do want them to be different than the world around them.
One mega church pastor when asked about the show responded, “I sincerely hope that the producers of this program don’t exploit these great men of God.” I believe this was a very subtle yet direct warning, not for the producers but for “these great men of God.” As “Preachers of L.A.” star Deitrick Haddon proclaims on the show’s promotional piece, “I’m a man first!” True indeed, but again not much comfort for those looking at you to be different. Is Haddon’s proclamation a warning that there may be infidelity, lying, and backbiting? Well King David did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that.
However, the ones being exploited may not be these particular pastors or even the producers of the show. No, sad to say the ones being exploited may be those who are innocently seeking to transform their lives and depending on these pastors to actually be pastoral. Christ incontrovertibly understood that the way to transform the world is to stand out not blend in. In a time when so many are trying to follow Christ without embarrassing God, “Preachers of L.A.” would do their calling and flocks a huge service and invoke the same game plan.