For how much the Bible tells us what Jesus said and what he meant, it’s striking how little it tells us about his appearance. Based on his ethnicity and birthplace, he was almost certainly brown-skinned, with dark eyes and hair. He had a beard. But the only comment on the Messiah’s looks comes from the biblical prophet Isaiah, who Christians believe foretold Jesus’ arrival in Israel: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
Translation: Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t hot.
So it’s striking that the most successful church-growth trend in the United States, one ostensibly meant to point people to Jesus, is putting forward male leaders who are, by conventional standards, physically attractive. In the world of megachurches, charisma more than character has become a requirement for leadership — and it’s axiomatic that physical beauty is a key component of charisma, especially if you are trying to attract other beautiful people.
After all, the gospel is for hot people, too. If hot pastors are what God uses to take the Good News to hot people, well, God works in mysterious ways, some requiring very toned biceps...
This desire is at the heart of the hot pastor formula. Megachurches recruit spiritual leaders who are designed to be found desirable by congregants. Their mission becomes bound up in their need to fill their ego, a need to be loved and desired.
Christian humility is about forgetting oneself. “True gospel humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself,” writes the Presbyterian minister Timothy Keller, who has planted several successful churches in New York himself. “In fact, I stop thinking about myself.”
It’s hard for anyone standing under the bright lights of a megachurch stage to forget about themselves. Maybe the problem isn’t the hot pastors like Lentz but a toxic megachurch culture that makes narcissism a prerequisite.