A few years back I attended a church service in Los Angeles for a semi-famous preacher – one of those with a bestselling book and a slot on TV. When we arrived, my family I and saw him pull up in Bentley in front of the church and get out.
This dude is driving a Bentley? I remember thinking it was super weird – the whole premise behind church just doesn’t seem to jive with driving a car 99% of your congregation can’t afford, meanwhile, another large percentage is struggling to afford the basics in life.
Not to mention, isn’t materialism a bad thing in the Bible?
When I found out about PreachersNSneakers, an Instagram account dedicated to highlighting the ridiculously expensive sneakers and other clothing items preachers are wearing, I became obsessed.
The account is run by a 29-year-old named Tyler who has amassed over 144k followers in only a few weeks.
“I’ve been really into buying and reselling sneakers for the past few years,” Tyler shared in an interview with Fashionista. “On the other side, I’m an evangelical Christian and am pretty ingrained in that culture.
One Sunday I was looking for a song I really like by Elevation Worship and I realized the lead singer was wearing a pair of Yeezy 750s. They’re pretty rare, they resell for 800 bucks or so. I thought I knew about church-type salaries — my wife works for a church — and so I was like, ‘This does not compute. How is this guy wearing these kicks?’”
“Then I started looking into the pastor at Elevation, Steven Furtick, and I came across a video where he was wearing this pair of shattered backboard Jordan 1s, the orange and black colorway. That’s one of my holy grail shoes,” said Tyler.
“I looked them up on StockX, and the last sale was for like 900 bucks. I started deep diving these mega-churches and I realized there’s a lot of people out here wearing like the hypest outfits, the highest resell kicks in the game.”
Tyler posted a video to his personal Instagram account highlighting his findings, and people responded really well. “At that point was like, maybe there’s some ongoing comedic factor here.”
Hundreds of pastors and everyday people have been messaging Tyler, thanking him for his work and for prompting the much-needed discussion about church leaders.
He also has an entirely different group of people messaging him that are atheist or questioning who can’t believe how much these preachers are making.
Then, there’s the haters. Of course, there’s always haters.
“Somebody called me a hypocrite today and said that I was causing disunity within the church,” Tyler shared. “But I’ve been pretty intentional to leave it relatively open-ended. It can be read passive-aggressively or it can be read like ‘Oh this dude’s just gassing this pastor up for having a sweet outfit.’”
To make matters even weirder… “I had a Dallas-based pastor reach out to me and ask to be featured on the page yesterday.”
Tyler is blown away by all of the attention his account has received.
“All I do is find pictures, look up the things that they’re wearing and then put out the current market price and let you decide what you feel about that, you know?”
Is it inherently problematic for a church leader to own or flaunt high end luxury items? I’m sure everyone has a different opinion on the matter.
“As somebody that has given money to my local church, personally I would be a little irritated if I saw the pastor step out in some fresh Yeezys. I would at least ask the question,” admits Tyler.
(Mr. Gray clearly has quite the collection of high-end kicks)
The argument for these guys is that they are doing major book deals, working hard and touring the world giving speeches. So obviously, they are going make a lot of money.
Still, it doesn’t sit right with me that this is what they choose to do with all that money.
Tyler puts it perfectly: “I do think that you’re held to a different standard if you are leading a church that people are contributing money to and investing some amount of their trust in you to lead them spiritually. That’s a pretty heavy calling. I think you at least need to be aware of the optics of the things that you’re wearing.”
Sure, you could also argue that these fancy things were given to them for free by the brands as a promotional tool.
Once again, Tyler’s response is on point: “All I know is that you’re on the ‘gram wearing a $2,000 pair of boots. I can’t reconcile it.
I can’t think of a meaningful explanation as to why you would feel 100% okay with wearing a pair of boots that probably the majority of your congregation could never afford.
I am just here to say ‘Whoa, homie’s wearing $800 track pants.’ Y’all do with that what you want, you know?”
“I mean, I cannot stand here and say that you should never be wearing that. These guys like Carl Lentz and Chad Veach and Judah Smith, they probably have really wise mentors. And where I sit now I don’t understand it, but maybe there is an explanation behind it — I would love to hear it.”
“It’d be one thing if they were to come out and explain, like, ‘this is why I bought this pair of Off-White Chicago 1s, because I feel strongly about how they’re made.’
If you could get a congregation to somehow agree that their money going to those $2,500 pair of kicks was good for the kingdom of God then I can’t have an argument with that.
I definitely don’t want to say you should fund sweatshops. But I also think there’s got to be a balance between that and wearing Burberry sneakers.”
Here’s how people are responding: