Why Preacher Idol? – by Drew Marshall

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Preacher Idol, and a lot of questions. “Why Preacher Idol” you ask? Well, here’s why:

1. To encourage the “Average Joe Pew Sitter” who feels they may be gifted in the area of preaching and provide them the opportunity to explore their gifting further!

When I think about a preaching competition amongst professional preachers, I must admit, there’s a cringe factor. (Although I certainly think there might be some “iron sharpens iron” quality to such a thing.) However, I really feel that a preaching competition amongst Christians, who feel they might have a gifting in this area of ministry, is a fun and helpful way to either encourage those who actually do have some gifting – OR – to confirm to those who are NOT gifted that they might want to consider joining the choir.

2. To de-idolize the role of preacher and create awareness that far too many Christians basically worship their pastors!

The reality is that North American Evangelical Christianity has turned the pulpit into a place of idol worship. We pew sitters are the ones who need to stop enabling this family dysfunction! We need to stop treating our pastors as idols and they need to stop creating job descriptions that cultivate idol worship! We hope that by having a fun contest named after a familiar television show, we create some healthy dialogue about this sad state of affairs in the institutional church.

3. To create a discussion about what constitutes good preaching and bad preaching!

We hope to provoke some long overdue discussions about what makes a good preacher and what makes a bad preacher. Dare we even say the phrase: bad preacher! Anyone that’s been following Christ and doing church long enough knows that there are many preachers who seem like they’re only preaching because they couldn’t make it in the real world. Maybe those with some form of discernment and wisdom need to actually challenge these preachers about whether or not “God’s calling” for them is still preaching? Maybe it was in the beginning of their ministry or maybe, like many of us, they simply misunderstood God’s voice. Either way, a little preaching competition might wake us all up to the reality that so many preachers, week after week, somehow succeed in taking the most amazing and dynamic book in the world and slaughtering it with 45-minute diatribes leaving the congregation salivating at the thought of lunch at the local Swiss Chalet or Mandarin!

If the Church is going to continue to make preaching on Sundays such a high priority (What percentage of your Church’s budget goes towards the Sunday service?) then we pew sitters need to evaluate what constitutes good preaching! And we certainly should be able to provide the opportunity for the “Average Joe Pew Sitter” to take a shot at discovering whether or not they’ve got any gifting at this mystical thing called preaching!

But isn’t there something wrong about having a “preaching” competition?

The reality is that most churches are already in competition with each other, building their own empire rather than kingdom work alongside other churches. Just ask any community how many times in the last year the local churches have worked together. When a church is hiring a preacher, is there not a competition element amongst the applicants? Personally, having a sports background, I’ve always felt that a little healthy competition keeps people sharp. Besides, Preacher Idol is there to help folks figure out whether they’re “called,” and part of the calling is knowing whether you are gifted or not. Figuring out whether you are gifted requires the confirmation of the listening body. Is this not too dissimilar to choir tryouts and competitions. Is the lyrical content of worship music not too dissimilar from a sermon? Are the choir members and it’s director not inspired by God much the same as a preacher, if not more on some days? No one is stopping those who are not chosen as finalists in Preacher Idol from continuing in the pursuit of becoming a preacher, but is it not an act of love to help someone discern their gifting – or lack thereof? Simon from American Idol has saved the world from the hordes of painful wannabe’s in pursuit of unattainable glory, egged on by their blindly deaf mothers and lovingly dishonest friends. Besides, it wasn’t all that long ago that Baptists, Pentecostals and the like, used to hold light hearted preaching competitions amongst seminary students – but this was back in a time when we weren’t a bunch of kumbuyah sucky pants!

We wonder if there might there be some correlation between the serious lack of authentic, vulnerable, genuine and transparent preachers and the fact that over one million people leave the institutional church every year in North America. Worldwide, approximately 112 million people have left the institutional church in order to preserve their faith. Thankfully though, most who have left haven’t stopped following Christ! Many simply left the church because “doing church” was getting in the way of following Christ.

What about using the word “idol”? Isn’t that bad?

If you’re a Canadian Evangelical Christian who is theologically afraid, embarrassingly politically correct, and lacking any sense of fun or a capacity to engage culture, then YES, this is a very bad thing for you to be involved with. But if you’re a pastor and you are scared of being involved with Preacher Idol, primarily because of the use of the word “idol”?? It must be tough to be so hemmed in by – donor based – pay check ministry! Please don’t succumb to the politically correct insanity of pandering to the potential “squeaky wheel gets the grease” conservative power brokers in your church?

Let the games begin…!