One of the accounts I follow on Instagram is called @preachersnsneakers. This account, which was started about six months ago and has nearly 200,000 followers, was begun by an anonymous Christian in his 20’s who noticed that many famous pastors wore expensive sneakers (and other clothing)- $600 Gucci sneakers. A $1,550 Louis Vuitton t-shirt. $3,450 Jordans. The account owner posts a photo of the pastor wearing the particular clothing item in question, and then a close-up of the item with the current cost. He admitted he had mixed feelings about the issue and wanted to start a conversation.
As new postings come up, I, too, have mixed feelings. Many of the pastors who have been profiled note that they get the clothing for free, or that they wear them because they are trying to attract millennials, who find the shoes “cool.” This opens a door for them to attend church, where they can then hear the gospel. And, honestly, why should I care if a pastor spends $800 on a pair of sneakers as long as the money was theirs to spend and they aren’t taking it from the church coffers? If we start judging every single thing a pastor purchases, where does it end? Are they not allowed to go on nice vacations, or to send their children to nice schools, because of how it might look to a watching world?
On the other hand, the apostle Paul talks about not causing others to stumble. Although Paul is referring to food, is it possible that seeing pastors spend such extravagant amounts on clothing could cause others to stumble? A glance at the “comments” section under each Instagram post shows that the vast majority of people posting are sickened and turned off by the display of wealth they see. Is that what we want?
I do not know the heart of these pastors and whether they are preaching the true gospel or a prosperity gospel, and I still have not formed an opinion on the issue, but this I do know: when we profess to be Christians, a skeptical world watches us – what we say, what we do, even how we spend our money. May the thing they notice most about us be this: our love, our joy, our peace, our patience, our kindness, our goodness, our faithfulness, our gentleness, and our self-control.