2 Young Celebrity Pastors Who Are Making an Impact in Hollywood

Rich Wilkerson Jr. and Judah Smith are hot pastors in Hollywood, but why?
Rich Wilkerson Jr. and Judah Smith are hot pastors in Hollywood, but why? (Facebook)

In a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the newly single Kourtney interrupts the expletive-filled arguments between her sister and mother to ask a simple question: 

"Does anyone want to go to Bible study?" 

It seems odd coming from the mouth of a family known for salacious headlines, but perhaps it's indicative of a slight turn Hollywood appears to be taking: faith is making a comeback.  

The Kardashians have sought counsel in recent years from pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr.—cousin of prophetic voice David Wilkerson—who is now the star of Rich in Faith on Oxygen! 

Complex magazine points to the "come as you are" approach Wilkerson takes, as does The City Church's Judah Smith, aka "Justin Bieber's pastor." 

"For these preachers, 'come as you are' is more than a relatable style choice; it's the core of their doctrines," Complex's Gregory Babcock writes. "A common thread throughout their work is that the best path to tackle contemporary social issues is with a modern—and more important, non-abrasive—voice."

Wilkerson agrees.  

"So often it's really easy, especially for people of faith, to sit around and report negatively about the status quo of where our nation is or where entertainment is," he tells ABC. "Our idea was to do something that's encouraging, that's positive out there. We want to show people you can have faith, even in this busy, chaotic world we live in right now."  

Indeed, through reality shows and social media, celebrities are picking up fragments of revival, using their platforms as a brief opportunity to share the gospel.  

Smith stood side-by-side with Bieber when the reformed pop star led thousands in a prayer for the victims of the Paris attacks.  

Despite his growing fame, Smith says recognition was never the goal.  

"Someone recently told me, 'Hey, I really want to reach celebrities like you have,'" Smith tells Complex. "They meant well and that's fine, but I chuckled to myself. I never thought to myself  'I would like to pastor celebrities.' It was never a concept to me. I just wanted to help people." 

As celebrities move forward in their faith journey under these pastors, some are skeptical of true repentance.  

"You see, when you find Jesus—I mean really find Him—everything changes," Charisma News columnist Michael Brown writes. "You just don't add Him in to make things better. You just don't follow His example and try to be nice to people. You yourself are transformed.

"The old Justin Bieber dies and a new Justin Bieber lives, and the new version of you is so much different than the old one that it's hard to believe you were ever that other person.  ... You are no longer your own; you have been bought with a price; you now belong to God, and you live to please Him." 

Despite the skepticism, Smith and Wilkerson say they want to continue their focus on spreading the gospel and living out their faith.  

"The point is loving people the way God loves them. Unconditionally. Passionately. Unswervingly. Without love, nothing else matters," Smith says. "Yes, generosity and good deeds are important. But if our faith doesn't lead to authentic love, we've missed the point."

It's that authentic love that could fan the flames of revival beginning at the top of American culture and moving beyond.


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