The Oxygen network's latest reality TV show, Preachers of L.A. made its television debut and snagged 1.1 million viewers. Oxygen bills the show as a "rare glimpse into the lives of six high-profile pastors from Los Angeles. From pro skateboarder Pastor Jay Haizlip to Grace Jones' brother Bishop Noel Jones to Bishop Clarence McClendon, who reaches 250 million homes via international broadcast each week, Preachers of L.A. will explore the human side of these ambitious and very powerful men of faith." After the premier episode, the question remains, does religion and reality TV mix well and show real ministry or does the combination make all Christians look bad.
The show got mad twitter coverage with people from all walks of life tweeting their thoughts and the answer seems to depend on who you read. Comments seemed to populate both sides of the fence (ministry vs. mockery with more falling on the mockery side) with a few that were just confused...
10 Random Tweets Included:
- My new favorite show #PreachersOfLA
- I actually think that #PreachersOfLA will start a much needed dialogue in church about WHO we are & should be.
- My take it is a mockery of Christianity and what it stands for.
- I just don't see how anyone can think #preachersofLA is a good look for the church
- In 10 min of preachers of la, I saw Bentleys & Ferraris, then a pastor said that he's "sanctified, saved & sexual". I want those 10 min back
- boy I tell ya! I see less bibles and more Bentleys and Ferraris!
- sad story.......blasphemy...While their congregation is in a Honda their in a benz....
- Preachers taking tax free money the church give them and go out and buy Ferraris and bentleys wit it. Preachers of LA
- After watching #PreachersOfLA I'm honestly upset by how SOME are making a mockery of the Lords work. Smh
- This preachers of LA show has me very conflicted
My personal breakdown/thoughts:
(These opinions are my own and not representative of Hallels.com)
Deitrick Haddon and his fiance Dominique - The show opens up with Deitrick preparing for him comeback concert. Called to the ministry at 10, he preached his first sermon at 11. In the process of getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years, he moved to LA and met Dominque, who he fell in love with. He said when he found out Dominique was pregnant, he was "like, oh my God. My career is over." He continued, "I knew it was going to look scandalous because here I have a young lady pregnant, out of wedlock and my divorce is not final. I absolutely did fall from grace so I asked God to forgive and me and I repented."
As Deitrick and Dominique talked about his comeback, he told her not to worry because, "God put us together." Let's stop right there. While each and every one of us are sinful, God does not put married men in the beds of other women.
Bishop Ron Gibson and First Lady LaVette (He pastors Life Church of God in Christ which is 4000 members strong) - Bishop Gibson is former gang member and drug addict who turned away from the gangs and towards Christ. His story opens with a trip to Compton after someone he knew was shot at by rival gang members to try and stop the young man from retaliating. He took his Lord and his Glock in case the men he was talking to didn't respect the Lord. He worked the street --- not pulling any punches about changing lives and preaching it! He invited gang members, including a Piru OG and Crips to the upcoming concert and treated them like men - not beneath him or like they were hood rats invited to the gala.
Bishop Noel Jones (The only single pastor in the group, Bishop Jones leads the City of Refuge Church which is 20,000 members strong. Bishop Jones travels the world preaching the gospel. Being single is not an easy thing - even for a man of God. His comment of, "Of course women throw themselves at you in this business. It's the whole 'rock star' thing. Which man is not going to have a hard time with women coming at him. Pictures, email, just sticking numbers in your hand," paints an honest picture of our culture, which I have seen first hand at many, many concerts.
Pastor Jay Haizlip and First Lady Christy (He pastors The Sanctuary Church which is 3500 members strong) - Married for 26 years, the Haizlip's have a much less extravagent looking home than the others shown. A former pro-skateboarder, he moved to California from Alabama and as a skateboarder, became friends with the people he had been idolizing for years. Sucked into a lifestyle he was not prepared for, he started snorting cocaine and smoking rocks. The realization that he was a drug addict hit when he lost everything. He shared that "he's not proud of it" but said that everything he went through is being used for good now.
Pastor Wayne Chaney and First Lady Myesha (He pastors Antioch Church which is 2000 members strong) - With preaching in his DNA, Pastor Chaney is following family tradition. His church was founded by his grandfather over 50 years ago. His wife, you may recall, appeared on TLC's short-lived (thankfully) show, Preachers’ Wives. She was the "new kid" in the first lady diva club and came across as likeable then as she does now. Neither of the Chaney team make any bones about enjoying their intimate time. As he put it, "We want people to know, you can be saved, sanctified and sexual. God made us that way." Married for nine years with three kids, sex between a husband and wife is not an off-limits topic for them.
Bishop Clarence McClendon and First Lady Priscilla (He pastors Full Harvest International Church which is 3500 members strong) - Bishop McClendon started preaching at 15. Their story opens up with Priscilla talking to Bishop McClendon discussing threats she has been receiving through the mail. As Bishop McClendon talks about the need for security to protect him, his family and their lavish property, he pseudo-defends his material wealth by saying, "The bible says that I wish above all things that you would prosper and have good health and I believe that."
Deitrick Haddon is a consumate entertainer and he definitely has the vocal chops. His attitude, however, could have used a little adjusting. During the concert, the show shared an earlier comment he made, where he said, "Being a gospel superstar is no different than being a rock star." This is what I mean by attitude because while all successful performers have the lights, the crowds, the cheering fans, gospel singers are supposed to be doing it all for God - not their own pocketbooks or the adoration of the masses.
Bishop Gibson performed the altar call and he invited his gang banger guests to the stage to pray over them during the call. Seeing two rival gang members not only share the same space on stage, but hugging each other was a real moment ... at least it was until Deitrick Haddon told him he had to "expediate it" after five minutes. As Bishop Gibson prayed, you could see Haddon prowling around on stage with what sure looked like a disgusted look on his face.
Despite losing a few extra minutes of his time in the spotlight, Haddon was happy with the show, saying, "My fans were there to let me know that I was forgiven."
The Man Cave:
Man Cave, a meeting held at Bishop Gibson's first home, had all of the preachers together. Deitrick Haddon shared that people ask if they should charge an honorarium or a fee for the gospel. Bishop McClendon responded, "Jesus said, 'Freely you have received, freely give." Then he went in to how he travels with several people and if a church can't afford to pay for his team, they don't want his ministry. I've got to give it to Deitrick on this one. He asked why adjustments couldn't be made for churches with smaller budgets and said, "If the anointing is on you, you do not need an entourage. That's the problem. It's become a big hoop-la." After insulting Haddon by saying he wasn't as intelligent as McClendon thought and getting called out for insulting him, he said he was leaving and walked out. Bishop McClendon said he was "set up" to be put "in the crossfire" with that scene. (Watch the video of his explanation)
My Final Thoughts:
The most likeable at first glance seems to be Bishop Gibson and both of the Haizlips. Gibson's "taking it to the streets" mentality and work in areas that most people would fear to go is almost enough to make you overlook his fine cars and lavish lifestyle at home. The Haizlips are the most relatable with both their dialog and their lifestyle. At first, the show seems to set Deitrick Haddon up to be the "bad guy" of the episode (there always has to be a villian and reality TV is generally not "real" by any standards. Towards the end, during the Man Cave meeting, he seems to redeem himself as he questions making tons of money for sharing the Gospel and Bishop McClendon steps easily into the "jerk" role. TV executives know that American viewers love to have someone to hate so I have to wonder if each week, we, the viewing public, won't be given a custom made bad guy who is a Dr. Jekyll on the pulpit and a Mr. Hyde at home.
Whether this show is going to be a good "look" for Christianity or a bad one remains to be seen. I think it could be a little of both. We're all sinners; we all make mistakes. That's called being human. I don't believe in hiding your old story because it takes away from your new testimony. The mansions, luxury cars and bling shouldn't take away from the work that these men are doing. However, I also don't believe in any Gospel that tries to convince me that I will be living in a mansion and driving a Bentley or a Porsche if I just accept Jesus. I've been a Christiain for 36 years and have never even sat in either one. If Preachers of L.A. focuses more on goodies than God, the whole point of ministry will be lost on those watching.