By Elizabeth Prata
In this blog I give some warnings and cautions to any sister in Christ whose ministry is growing.
Beth Moore tweeted a thread Saturday apologizing for making platformed Christian celebrity look so easy, and opining that (though) it is actually hard, you, too, can achieve it if you ‘keep at it’ and ‘hang in there’. No exaggeration. Screen shots and links blow.
I’ve written several times about the drastic error of these celebrity evangelical women who traded motherhood for celebrity, leaving kids and hubby behind, taking on the male role while hubby accepts the female. All in the name of “ministry,” when in reality it was just about a feminist career.
Where does one draw the line between the duties of the home and growing absence outside of the home because of ministry? Can you really ‘have it all?’
Priscilla Shirer is absent up to 20 times per year, at least. Her husband acknowledged they deposited the kids with grandparents and he took over wife duties.
Beth Moore’s kids ate a lot of takeout while their mom balanced demanding professional ambitions.
Diana Stone, a She Reads Truth author, is described as a woman with a Bible flung open on her lap in the morning…but what isn’t stated is that it occurred after she dropped her kids at daycare so she could write. (Making the Switch from Nanny to Daycare)
She Reads Truth founder Raechel Myers was “Crazy busy and super happy” as a sewist, writer, photographer, designer, author, CEO of a Limited Liability Company, Conference Fundraiser, Conference speaker, and world traveling Justice Activist, as her bio says. Oh, And mom. And wife… when she’s not jaunting off to Rwanda to teach women how to start micro-businesses while her kids watch her on a flat screen. All for the sake of her ‘ministry.’
They forget that their ministry IS the home.
The Lord calls women in general to orient their lives at home, tend to the children, and be a helpmeet for her husband. (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:9; Titus 2:5).
In Beth Moore’s tweet thread she mused on the detrimental effect the platformed women of her generation have had on the younger. Moore said,
The main thing wrong with platforming and branding women to the global audience is that it takes them away from their work at home. It doesn’t take all morning long to state that truth.
Moore went on for several more tweets about the celebrity culture and platforming, the grit of it all and how it was a lot harder than they made it look. How it wasn’t as fun as it seemed. Not glamorous. It was full of pain, difficulties, and opposition.
No matter what the era, but especially nowadays when Big Eva women split their time being a homemaker and a Ministry CEO, or a Mother and a Conference Speaker, it’s “hard” for a reason. That is because unless it’s necessary, a woman is to work at home, learn or teach in the church, and prioritize her life toward her husband and children if she has them. Toward her sphere and church if not. Anything else will be kicking at the goads!
When did Bible study in an arena begin, anyway?
She’s mostly right that they were the first generation to make a breakthrough of the Big Eva celebrity platforming. Moore’s first Living Proof Live event was in 1998. Though over the years Moore solidified the template for ‘Married Mom Bible Teacher on The Celebrity Circuit Doing It All’, she wasn’t the first. That ‘honor’ went to the Women of Faith crew who began a couple years before Moore popped on the scene.
In 1996 the first “Women of Faith” (WOF) conference was held. “Women respond by attending sold-out conferences in 10 cities.” (Source)
“There are several things that WOF did – that had not been done before. Women preaching Jesus to crowds outside of a women’s ministry meeting? That’s typically not a Sunday morning in the old school evangelical Christianity world.” (Source)
Did you catch that? Quietly learning the Bible from a man with your own church sisters on Sunday, was now “old school”. After the WOF ladies gave women a taste of the show, they wanted more. We see that clearly, because of the suddenness of how fast the WOF arenas sold out in its very first year.
“Luci Swindoll remembers the first few times she gathered with several women to talk about the ways their Christian faith was woven into the fabric of their lives. It was 1996, and the group of friends — Swindoll, Patsy Clairmont, Thelma Wells, Sheila Walsh and Marilyn Meberg — sat on a stage they called their “porch” and chatted candidly about their personal struggles and humorous hangups. They laughed, and the women in the audience laughed with them. They cried, and the audience cried too.” (Source)
The WOF women found the Golden Egg of a Ladies’ ministry template that brought success: the show plus emotionalism, which other ladies picked up on. Even the liberal NY Times understands this:
Conservative Bible teachers like Shirer have built a new paradigm for feminine preaching, an ingenious blend of traditional revivalism, modern therapeutic culture and the gabby intimacy of Oprah. This is the biblical-womanhood-industrial complex: a self-conscious alternative to secular feminism that preaches wifely submission while co-opting some feminist ideas
The Atlantic nailed Moore’s performances similarly, “she gave the kind of performance that made her evangelical-famous, a manic outpouring that combined the rhythms of a tight stand-up routine and the earnestness of a Sunday-school lesson.” (Source print ed.“Will Beth Moore Lose Her Flock?”)
But the platforming wasn’t totally unknown until the mid 1990s. The ‘honor’ of the first Christian woman ‘on the circuit’ went to Aimee Semple McPherson, a traveling evangelist Charismatic healing preacher in the 1920s and 30s, traveling around preaching to massive crowds. She’d left her husband and took the two kids with her and set about preaching to hordes of people before settling in Los Angeles and establishing a temple there. Angelus Temple became a megachurch. Her impact was tremendous.
That old silent film star Charlie Chaplin was an Aimee fan. Not that he was a Christian, he wasn’t. But Aimee put on a good show. “Half of your success is due to your magnetic appeal, half due to the props and the lights,” Chaplin told McPherson. “Whether you like it or not, you’re an actress.” (Source)
Think of all the Ladies’ Conferences that employ the same techniques; props, lights, music, and emotionalism.
Do you remember the brouhaha when a supposed evangelical pastor rode into church sanctuary on a motorcycle? Aimee did it a hundred years prior. She dressed in a police uniform, sat on a motorcycle and delivered her sermon, occasionally using the siren on the cycle to punctuate her points. She preached that we should “put sin under arrest”. Her Temple became LA’s busiest tourist attraction. That is what Chaplin meant by her putting on a show and being an actress. (It should surprise no one that Aimee dove into her itinerant preaching life when she was deathly ill, and she heard a voice from above who told her to).
No wonder sitting submissively in a small Sunday School class with a Bible in one’s lap suddenly seemed old school. Women could leave the church, go see what amounts to a show, and call it Bible learning.
But what about the good they do?
“But these celebrity women do so much good!” is the rebuttal cry. No doubt. McPherson was also known for extensive charity work. Christine Caine’s work against sex slavery is good. Probably the Rwandan women appreciated Raechel Myers’ business acumen. But Uzzah thought he was doing good to steady the Ark. Ananias and Sapphira thought they were doing good by giving money to the church. Metaphorical Jezebel in Revelation no doubt was a nice lady who did good things. But she was still called out by Jesus and threatened with death. And you know what happened to Uzzah, Ananias, and Sapphira. The ‘good’ that one does in ministry is no good if it’s mixed with disobedience, half-truths, and scriptural falsity.
For Moore to opine that it was all so hard and sacrifices were made is galling beyond belief. Sitting in the catbird seat after a quarter of a century of travel, speaking engagements, book tours, and luxury living, now dispensing advice on the difficulties of being platformed, is truly ironic. Her thread focused on herself, how publishing a book gave her the terrors, her anxiety, her pain.
The Wrong Regrets
She did not look back over the years to when her children were young, and say instead, “I’m sorry I left them in their formative years. I’m sorry for the times I wasn’t there to make them a meal. I’m sad that they came home from school and mama was working 50 hours a week in her Houston office. It’s my fault they ate so much takeout. I’m sorry that my husband had to pick up all the wifely duties so I could pursue my career. I spent too much time in my jet and not enough at home. I didn’t learn quietly with all submission in my church and provided a poor model for my kids.” None of that.
Beth Moore didn’t HAVE to launch out of her church where she had been teaching Sunday School for years, leaving behind the kids and hubby to go on the circuit. None of them had to. Not Rachael, Diana, Priscilla. Not Joanna, not Christine, not WOF ladies. They didn’t HAVE to endure the hardships of trying to be a wife, mom, CEO, speaker, author, Bible study writer, book tour traveler, interviewee. Diluting their ordained role with worldly concerns that come along with celebrity is hard, and rightly so. Feminists have known for years that “having it all” is a lie. You cannot choose both career and motherhood. Both suffer.
And the peon people who prop these celebs up bear half of the blame. The verse in 2 Timothy 4:3 reminds us that it’s the people with the wayward desires that heap up these teachers.
Some advice from an older woman who’s been there
If you, dear sister, are emerging into a ministry that’s growing into something larger than life, please stop and consider the verses which ordain our role. Yes it’s flattering to be asked to go somewhere and speak. But it’s going to involve leaving your home more often than you think. Yes it’s heady to propose a book to an interested publisher. But it’s going to involve going on required book tours away from home. If you’re married, discuss with your husband, if not, discuss with your elder.
I understand the yearning that is in a true Bible teacher’s heart to bring Jesus to a lost and dying world. The availability of modern technology to do so in an ever growing audience is spiritually satisfying. But while nurturing the ministry, consider, are you nurturing your children well? Even if they are grown children? How often is the husband left behind? Even if you’re a writer, is your door closed, or worse, like Diana Stone, do you bring the kids to daycare so you can write in peace?
There is a thin line between ministry at home and celebrity abroad, and it’s narrower than you think. Yes, little ole you can be drawn away easily. Satan always wants to draw women away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or make you look at it differently. (Genesis 3:6).
Keeping the lie going
In order to make Christian Celebrity continue to look glamorous, they have to say “Oh it was hard, but so worth it!” Only the brave Christian woman will say at the end of it all, “I sacrificed my children and husband and marriage on the altar of celebrity and it was not worth it.”
Every woman whose ministry is growing at some point has to make some hard decisions. And each decision is ultimately up to each woman’s individual conscience. You decide how far you want to go with whatever ministry you’re doing. I did. I wrestled with some decisions and proposals and satisfied my conscience along the lines of my understanding of my role within my sphere and under my Elders’ leadership.
Look at Bible women and compare
Beth Moore’s final advice was to hang in there and all the pain and difficulty will be worth it. While I agree that bringing Jesus to more people is better, it’s only better if the original role for which we are ordained is not abandoned or diluted. Lois and Eunice’s teaching of young Timothy at home had an enormous spiritual impact- which we are benefiting from 2000 years later! Dorcas/Tabitha’s sewing made a difference to the women of her town. So did Lydia’s purple dyeing. Anna’s fasting and praying in the Temple night and day did, too.
Did Anna worry about being platformed? Did she ever think the Spirit would mention her in God’s own eternal word? Did Dorcas advise her sewing circle on how to grapple with celebrity? Did Lois opine that her celebrity hurt too much?
No. Their eyes were always on Jesus, not the platform.
The Spirit takes the ministry where HE wants it to go. If your ministry at home affects three people, your 2 kids and husband, that is an eternal impact! If it affects 50, your Sunday School ladies’ class, that is an eternal impact! If it affects your 5000 blog readers, that is an eternal impact!
How much is too much growth? Johnny Mac for the win
External criteria such as affluence, numbers, money, positive response have never been the biblical measure of success in ministry. Faithfulness, godliness, spiritual commitment are the virtues that God esteems and such are the qualities that He blesses. They must be the building blocks of any ministry philosophy. That is true in small churches, that is true in large churches. Size does not signify God’s blessing and popularity is absolutely no barometer of success. In fact, an appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land, writes Jeremiah. The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule on their own authority and my people love it.
The fact that people love it doesn’t make it right. Popular does not mean pleasing to God necessarily. So, instead of urging Timothy to devise a ministry that would garner accolades from the world, he warned him about suffering and about hardship. Hardly the stuff that modern church growth experts aspire to. The appropriate goal is never success, it’s excellence.
The main question is, if you’re a wife and/or a mother, can you do BOTH roles excellently, to the highest standard Jesus deserves?
As I’ve said through the years, you take care of the depth of your ministry and let God take care of the breadth of it. ~John MacArthurTweet
In the end of their life, which group do you think had the fewest regrets about their ministry? Anna, Lydia, Dorcas, Lois, Eunice? Or Christine, Rachael, Diana, Beth, Priscilla? More importantly, which group do you think Jesus will say “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
Verses to Consider
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