Joanna: On today's episode we're gonna be doing something a little bit different. We're still a new podcast so we're trying some new things. We want to talk about a hot topic today that's been in church news lately on social media.

James: Yeah Joanna this week I was on the creative church group and I noticed an interesting post from Nik Goodner called "PreachersNSneakers".

Joanna: Let's talk about it.

Joanna: All right. In the last week or so there is this Instagram account that has just totally blown up called "PreachersNSneakers". If you haven't found it yet you've got to go now and look it up. But if you already know what we're talking about you know that this is a basically a bunch of posts that show famous preachers and how much the sneakers they're wearing cost.

James: And it was featured on BuzzFeed. Which I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing to be drawing so much attention to this account. But I mean it's pretty controversial, right?

Joanna: The reason is these are high priced sneakers.

James: We're not talking about you know Winners sneakers here.

Joanna: Like we're talking for our American audience that's like Marshall's or like these are like you know Walmart sneakers.

James: These are not Walmart sneakers these are you know limited edition Nike's that are a thousand dollars or more. And it's not just with the sneakers it's also about a few outfits that are you know a thousand dollar t-shirts, or Gucci pants. And so I mean you and I quickly talked about it before we started. We haven't actually shared our opinions with one another yet and I wanted this to be fresh right now here on the episode. We are going to really agree or disagree and this will be the end of the podcast because we'll just fight about it.

Joanna: If nothing else I think the overall tone everyone feels is uncomfortable. Yes you are uncomfortable with this Instagram account and even the guy who made it on the BuzzFeed interview says he's uncomfortable with it like blowing up the way it has.

James: So here's what it is. We've got a bunch of pastors that are well known that are most of them are younger, but not all them. But it's pictures of them either on stage preaching or a few kind of candid photos with other family members or things like that where they are wearing very expensive clothing, basically shoes. But I mean there's a there's a few pastors here that are just you know it's them reading from the Bible and then it's a post saying here's the shoes that they're wearing. And right now this shoe is worth $700 or $1000 bucks.

Joanna: There's a few pairs up there right now that are $3000-4000.

James: So my initial reaction was wow it's great to be a pastor because they get paid so much. But, being a pastor's kid and my mom was a stay at home mom I know that's not true. So immediately my initial reaction was red flag like oh no these people are probably just raking in the dough which might be true but then I also saw some comments underneath like some of these people have either famous friends or they have celebrities that go to their church and what what if they were just offered as a gift. Is that wrong? If someone says "hey I'm a designer at Nike you want a pair of shoes? Here's a pair of shoes that I actually worked on have them for free like I just want to gift this to you". Okay well then that's not necessarily wrong doesn't mean that they themselves are out spending buying thousand dollar pair of shoes but maybe they are and maybe that's why I feel so uncomfortable is because no one knows the real answer.

Joanna: I think it's this tricky thing like actually I've talked with with your dad about this your dad who is a pastor James where like somebody can roll into a pastor church parking lot not shoes you're talking about cars now with a minivan that's all suited out it's got leather interior it's got a few you know TV's in the back for the kids I don't know whatever the latest technology is in minivans and those vans can go what fifty thousand dollars easily. And a lot of people don't maybe blink too much of an eye at the the pastor family rolling up in the minivan that people don't think much about it. But then at that same price point if someone were to some pastor were to roll up in a low end convertible at about the same price point people would say well hold on we're paying this pastor too much. He's got a fifty thousand dollar convertible like a mustang.

James: This was family argument like a year because I know this is going on. My parents were looking for a second car and they had a very modest budget for it. And I said like why not just buy a car that you two, mom and dad like your 4 boys have finally moved out of the home. After having moved home a few times. I'm not naming any names they've all gone and they're all married they're all off doing their own thing like why don't you guys get a weekend or car or an evening car where you guys can just go out they want to travel and do things. So why don't you get a car whether it's a convertible you can just go for a nice ride and we're not talking expensive convertible. We are talking a used Mazda Miata and my mom's point was your dad's a pastor and there are enough people that might be concerned about that and I don't want to have that conversation with anybody. She's like "I don't want anyone ever questioning your dad's character and what he does with church finances and his own finances. I'd rather just avoid the problem than to put it out there and have it be a problem for even one person".

Joanna: Yeah I mean that's that's sort of what we're trying to illustrate in the conversation about PreachersNSneakers right? It's whether they got those shoes for free or they paid the 4000 dollars for them because they make enough money to buy $4000 shoes or they don't know who knows they saved. It's unlikely but they saved every penny they put them aside and then finally they were able to buy the $4000 shoes whatever it was. However they got the sneakers into their hands and onto their feet. Now it's kind of coming to light publicly and again these are all pictures that are not these are not like paparazzi photos these are photos that they have chosen the church or themselves have posted on their personal Instagram accounts. And taking a screenshot and revealing sort of the price of the clothes and the items that they're wearing. And so it just it definitely calls us to say okay so if we're not talking about a vow of total poverty we're not monks and nuns who are in ministry where we have to give up all over worldly goods. What does it mean? What is the responsibility of church leaders to not become overbearing to the people they serve and Shepherd and care for by wearing things that put a barrier between them and other people. Or drive a car that puts a barrier between them and other people. And at some point you have to stop caring what other people think though and you got to live your life. I mean I'd say you know even with your dad and his little cheap old sports convertible like some point you got to live your life man just enjoy your car. It's not a fancy one.

James: I mean you can feel the cynicism raised from people like on some of the comments who maybe don't know these people at all and that's kind of the defense that I've read it is a lot of people saying well you don't know them. So then if you're a person in one of these people's church then is it OK for you then to raise the question. Right. Like if you if you go to one of these people's church one of these pastors churches and you see it and it does bother you. Do you think Joanna now as a person who works for a church is that something that you should bring up or at least ask about? Or does it still matter like yeah like you don't know this person could have saved up. They just really have always wanted that pair of shoes and they saved and they save and they got a tax return. And so they paid it from these shoes like someone can do that. Like we can all we all choose to spend our money on things that are probably pricier than what we should. We are real like to do things like that right?

Joanna: Yeah it's tricky because I think it's true like in a lot of these cases we're not just talking about like one pair of shoes in this on this Instagram it looks like. So he's picking out a few particular people in some cases but it looks like they have a collection. This isn't just like a guy with one pair of expensive shoes this is a guy or you know these are pastors with many many pairs.

James: This might just speak to a bit of the media driven culture that we have and that maybe some people are sucked into having an appearance right like the idea of a celebrity pastor who has celebrities in their churches maybe that is part of the draw like maybe there's maybe there's again. I'm so torn. Like I've see so many negatives to that like no you shouldn't have to try to keep up with what those other people in your church are or even the community. But then there's that is another side of me that says oh maybe you do in order to fit in and draw those people in. But again both sides just feel like they're wrong.

Joanna: In communications of course we're thinking about what everything communicates and in the PR world. I think this is a PR problem for these churches to figure out what they want to do with it. And on a personal level if the pastor's being kind of teased on this Instagram if they feel a conviction in themself which we will never know we don't know them personally but if they feel like a personal conviction about it then maybe that says something about their motive and that says something about how they might want to reconsider the kinds of stuff that they're wearing. But if they kind of think about it and the people that are around them and know them and their own church congregation is comfortable with it in the context and the culture that they live in then I guess they're just going to keep doing it wear them. It just sort of feels a little bit more out of touch with maybe middle America which is probably a lot of the people who are commenting and being like shocked that you could even buy shoes this expensive they just did even no this existed.

James: So here's what we want you to do we just started our own Instagram account called TheFuture.Church on Instagram. Go find us. We're going to put a poll up in our story section and we want to kind of see what your reaction is to this. There's gonna be a few things there for you to check out. We're also gonna add a couple questions there that we want to start doing some listener questions so you're gonna we're gonna ask you a few questions. Type in your response and we're going to read them out on a future episode.

Joanna: We want to hear your questions too. Ultimately with this being like a day to day podcast we have this awesome ability to answer your questions if you have questions throw them at us and we're gonna do our best to answer as many of them as we can.