Would you really want your pastor – and your congregation – to star in a reality television show?
I’m not knocking the six black pastors who have signed on for a new reality show on Oxygen called “Pastors of L.A.” — a detailed look at the lives of men of God in Los Angeles.
But I do question why the pastors chose to participate in the show. Are they truly hoping to use the program to minister to those who need spiritual guidance? Or are they simply using the high-profile media platform to rake in more cash and bask in the spotlight of a national television audience?
“Pastors of L.A.’ will give viewers a candid and revealing look at six boldly different and world renowned mega-pastors in Southern California, who are willing to share diverse aspects of their lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and sometimes provocative lives they lead away from the pulpit,” says a press release from Oxygen.
Like many viewers, I’ll watch the show with an open mind and see what revelations are presented and hope – and pray – that the show isn’t a mess. Some say the concept of a show about black pastors is “madness.”
There’s no doubt that Oxygen has assembled six charismatic characters to star in the show, some of whom have checkered pasts and questionable backgrounds, others who are living large in ocean front mansions and enjoy rock-star status in their churches and communities.
So what can folks hope to get from the show? An entertaining hour of life behind the pulpit? Or will viewers actually learn more about how God works in our lives?
Meanwhile, the show already has its detractors.
“I really take issue with this…first it’s ‘Mary Mary,’ then it’s the ‘Sisterhood,’ then it’s ‘Preachers’ Daughters’ now it’s pastors on a reality show,” one woman wrote on Essence.com. “This madness needs to end.”
“Pastors of LA” stars Bishop Noel Jones, Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Bishop Ron Gibson and Pastor Jay Haizlip as they manage money and drama from the pulpit.
“This show documents a journey of transparency from one man to the next as they endeavor to lead others to their own truth and self-discovery,” said executive producer Holly Carter who holds a doctorate of divinity. She is also the daughter of a pastor and an industry veteran in faith and inspirational development and programming.
“It’s a dose of reality and a pound of redemption coming from a creative team reared in the church,” Carter said.
Here’s Oxygen’s rundown of the pastors:
Bishop Noel Jones: A Jamaican born into poverty, Jones has made his way to the other extreme, now living on a hilltop with a view of the Pacific Ocean, Malibu at his feet, and across the street from the former home of the late L.A. Lakers owner, Jerry Buss. The pastor of a church full of celebrities and the brother of Grace Jones, Bishop Jones is headed towards retirement and looking for a successor who he can entrust his life’s work. But finding the right man is harder than it sounds.
Deitrick Haddon: The son of a bishop and an evangelist, Deitrick was preaching at the age of eleven and conducting the church choir at thirteen. At 23, he married the woman he was expected to marry – the lead soprano of the church choir. However, everything didn’t continue as perfectly as the church had hoped. Deitrick and his wife got a divorce and the members of the church shunned him. Aside from the call on his life, the one thing that helped him from hitting rock bottom was his music. A dynamic personality, singer, songwriter, and preacher, Deitrick finds himself at an impasse in life. Which road will he choose?
Bishop Clarence McClendon: McClendon appears throughout the world on his weekly international broadcast, which is available in 250 million homes worldwide. This charismatic and ubiquitous bishop has been noted for his contemporary and relevant approach to the Gospel. He believes the Gospel is not only for the down and out but for the up and out. His ministry spans from skid row to the estates of Bel Air. When challenged about what many have called his prosperity Gospel, Bishop replies, “there is no other kind of Gospel.”
Pastor Wayne Chaney: At the age of 20, Chaney got the call from God and has grown to become a prominent pastor of the church his grandfather built. Fast-forward 10 years later, Antioch is the leading church in its community. With an ability to communicate complex truths in a simple way, Pastor Chaney has helped remarkably grow the church, along with the help of his secret weapon, his wife, gospel artist Myeshia Chaney. While Antioch is poised to become the next mega-church with the ability to reach millions worldwide, there’s an obstacle in the way and it comes from within Pastor Wayne’s own family.
Bishop Ron Gibson: Born in Compton, addicted to drugs before he was a teenager, a leader of the Crips by the time he was 16, a robber and a pimp, Bishop Ron Gibson was the least likely person to end up a preacher. He now changes the lives of 4,500 people each week at the Life Church of God in Christ, which he started with only nine people in the congregation. Through it all, he’s accumulated great wealth, power and purpose. However, there’s one thing he and his wife would give it all away for – a child.
Pastor Jay Haizlip: One of the pioneering greats of competitive skateboarding, Pastor Jay Haizlip, originally from Gadsden, Alabama, collected big trophies, bigger paychecks and high-end sponsors, but fell deep into drugs, and into the crack houses of Huntington Beach and Long Beach, California. Back in the crack houses again, this time he’s not there for drugs – he’s helping rescue souls for the Kingdom. Serving as Senior Pastor of The Sanctuary of Huntington Beach, Pastor Jay Haizlip reaches out to troubled youth, finding them in prisons, skate parks and the same crack houses he once shot dope in.
That’s the line-up for “Pastors of LA.” So what do you think?