Why VIP sections don’t belong in The Church

Before COVID became a household word, concerts and conferences happened so often, you could fill up nearly every weekend with a “Christian event” of some sort. You could laugh with Tim Hawkins Friday, cry with Lysa Terkeurst Saturday, then round out a fun filled weekend with a good old Chris Tomlin concert Sunday. 

Due to social media, the phenomenon and oxy moron of the “Christian Celebrity” caused a storm of frenzy around the most followed and most listened to Christian teachers and leaders. Now that Covid numbers are low and many feel brave enough to come out from behind their masks, we are and will keep seeing continued hysteria around worship concerts and Christian conferences. 

You might think hysteria sounds a little harsh. After all, isn’t it good that people come in droves to hear about Jesus? Isn’t it good that Christian events sell out? Isn’t it good that teens (and parents) have a fun, safe place to go? Sure. It is good…. But the question isn’t about whether it is good, so much as why are all these people coming in the first place? 

Are all those people really there for Jesus? Or are they waiting in mile long lines to get their favorite celebrity’s – scratch that – favorite worship singer’s autograph? What I often see and what makes me want to barf about Christian events is many things they do are anything but Christian. 

There is no room in the Christian community for celebrities, VIP sections and Elvis like hysteria surrounding people who are supposed to reflect the glory of God, not absorb it. Over the years, as I have attended many of these events, I noticed a disgusting trend. Every event I went to there was a VIP section. These little VIP’anites didn’t get there because they were recently saved or had a beautiful testimony to share. No, no. They sat in a roped off section, in the best seats in the house… why? Because they had MONEY!

Its all about the Benjamins baby. 

Sadly, that’s the truth for the Christian music and publishing industry as well. Not one, not two, but every event I’ve gone to over the years has had VIP ticketing options where guests can fawn over their favorite singer, get their autograph and maybe, if their lucky, even score a picture. Look, I understand why this happens in secular culture. When you don’t have Christ, all you have is living off the affections of people. As we all know – it is never enough. So, naturally everyone wants to be famous or at the very least, be seen with someone famous so they can feel slightly more important for the day. 

This ought not be that way for Christians. We were not made to absorb glory. We were made to reflect it! And we surely aren’t supposed to be elevating the wealthy, throwing out the red carpet and giving them special treatment. In case you don’t fully see eye to eye with me on this, let’s go back to The Word and see what our brother James has to say about it. (And you know if its coming out of James’ mouth its probably going to sting a little, so get ready!) 

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:1-9

Its abundantly clear from the words of Jesus’ brother that people should not get special seating inside The House of God based on how much money they can fork over. What’s more is, there really shouldn’t be people signing autographs and giving special “talks” behind stage as if they hold some secret power or influence the rest of us don’t have. I mean are we going to Christian concerts to worship Jesus or Hillsong? Are we coming to a conference to hear the word of God or are we coming to sit bug eyed, staring at Christine Caine for two hours? What are we doing???? 

If we want to know how to help the generations who think their identity begins and ends with how many followers they have, we as the leaders and teachers of the Christian community have to do better. We have to stop saying your identity is in Christ and show them by getting rid of VIP sections, autographed merch and anything else that pads our egos and our wallets more than our relationship with our Savior. We can’t sit on stage & preach about the love of God being better than the world, all the while shuffling people backstage before and after the show to get photos with “Christian celebs” that they can throw on their Instagram and hope to get a few more followers from. 

It cant be this way. We have to prioritize our intimacy with Jesus over our obsession with influence, fame and money. As more events begin to open up and we return to some kind of “normal”, think on this. Let it infiltrate your heart. Use your voice, and your wallet, and say no. No more VIP, no more celeb status in the church. We are all children of God. We are all very important people. Let’s stop segregating each other and show each other the love and honor Christ died to give us. 

Beloved Rejoice

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