Why one man started an Instagram account showing churches’ wealth

My parents raised me as Anglican, and I was a reasonably keen member of their church during the ’70s, although I began attending a Pentecostal church’s Youth Group on Friday nights, because: “girls”. Also, the guitar-based music seemed pretty cool to me at the time.

And thereupon the fence, I sat for many years… One foot comfortable on old red prayerbook Anglicanism, and the other, on something more strange — but exciting and interesting to me. After all, the Evangelical churches had Youth Ministers — imagine! There was a sense that we were able to explore our own concerns and interests within that construct… It felt like a spiritual buffet.

It’s effectively been two generations since I was first introduced to Evangelical Christianity. Where I stand in faith today, is complicated (and probably a story for another day). Suffice to say that I think of myself as a recovering Evangelical. I can state, with conviction, that the rhetoric of the Prosperity Gospel never sat well with me, and now makes me very uncomfortable. I know I am not alone, but I really haven’t discussed the evolution of my faith with any of my former church friends. I say former, because they don’t seem to be very good at staying in touch with those who are no longer active in the church. But, neither was I while I was active in the church — so there’s that. Which raises a nagging question, or observation, really: Why are my non-church going friends so engaged with my life? They always have been, despite my lack of engagement while I was mired in the Church community. Is it that they know life is short and precious? I really don’t know. I don’t try to overthink it these days. I have no idea what I don’t know.

I recently came across Tara Jean Steven’s podcast called “Heaven Bent” in which she explores her own experience with the Charismatic movement, and particularly, the phenomenon that expressed itself onto my path — the Toronto Airport Blessing. This “happening” set off a tidal wave of a sort of nouveau revivalism that spread hither and yon, including Tara’s home church in Prince Rupert, BC, and the Montreal Anglican church that I attended from 1999 until it sadly split in two in 2009. This is very interesting stuff.

Here’s a a YouTube video with Tara Jean Stevens discussing the podcast:

Meanwhile, here is an article that I came across today:

PreachersNSneakers on Instagram: Why one man started an account showing churches’ wealth

Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Washington Post

From his couch in Dallas, Ben Kirby began asking questions about the lifestyles of the rich and famous pastors when he was watching some worship songs on YouTube on a Sunday morning in 2019. While listening to a song by Elevation Worship, a megachurch based in Charlotte, the evangelical churchgoer noticed the lead singer’s Yeezy sneakers were worth nearly the amount of his first rent check.

Kirby posted to his 400 followers on Instagram, “Hey Elevation Worship, how much you paying your musicians that they can afford $800 kicks? Let me get on the payroll!” 

Plus, Kirby wondered, how could the church’s pastor, Steven Furtick, one of the most popular preachers in the country, afford a new designer outfit nearly every week? 

With a friend’s encouragement, Kirby started a new Instagram account @PreachersNSneakers posting screenshots of pastors next to price tags and the street value of shoes they were wearing. Within a month, the account had attracted 100,000 followers. 

“At the beginning, it was easy for me to make jokes about it,” he said. “Some of the outfits are absurd, so it’s easy to laugh at some of the designer pieces. The price tags are outlandish.” 

On his feed, Kirby has showcased Seattle pastor Judah Smith’s $3,600 Gucci jacket, Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes’s $1,250 Louboutin fanny pack and Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado’s $2,541 Ricci crocodile belt. And he considers Paula White, former president Donald Trump’s most trusted pastoral adviser who is often photographed in designer items, a PreachersNSneakers “content goldmine,” posting a photo of her wearing $785 Stella McCartney sneakers. 

As the Instagram account grew, Kirby started asking more serious questions about wealth, class and consumerism, including whether it’s appropriate to generate massive revenue from selling the gospel of Jesus. 

Read the rest here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/03/22/preachers-sneakers-instagram-wealth/

See also:

Preachers and their very expensive sneakers: why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/preachers-and-their-very-expensive-sneakers/132162.htm

About cPaul

Father: "He never amounted to anything". Mother: "Who the hell does he think he is"? Former Teacher: "Smart as a bag of hammers". Former Boss: "Condescending". Brother: "Mom loves me more".
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