Rich Wilkerson Jr., senior pastor of Vous Church in downtown Miami and star of "Rich in Faith," said he uses unconventional methods like reality TV to share the Gospel because "wherever the church avoids, darkness tends to invade."
Wilkerson, who officiated the 2014 wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, told The Christian Post that platforms like reality TV and social media are "tools" that, when put in the hands of the right people, can be an effective ministry strategy.
"I don't think people of faith should run from these platforms; I think we should use every means to get the Gospel out," he said. "I think social media is a great platform and Jesus should be the forefront on both social media and on TV. Why would I not be using every opportunity I can to be spreading the Word?"
"Rich in Faith," a series that airs on Oxygen and chronicles the life and ministry of Wilkerson and his wife, DawnCheré, was a "huge door opener," the pastor said.
"Reality TV isn't known for wholesome, life-giving content," he said. "It's known for salacious, dark, lowest-common denominator entertainment, but people are watching it, so we saw it as a tremendous opportunity."
He added, "We're good at criticizing things like that, but we'll never change the world if we're unwilling to engage it. I think Jesus would have social media and He would engage with culture and He would use it to spread His Word."
In the same vein, Wilkerson's second book, Friend of Sinners: Why Jesus Cares More About Relationship than Perfection, focuses on Jesus' scandalous message of the Gospel of grace and God's unfathomable love that extends beyond the "perfect" to those who are perceived by society as the least, the dirtiest, and the hopeless.
"This book is very close to my heart because I think in so many ways people have perception of God that God is angry at them, that God is mad at them, that they don't belong in church or around people of faith," Wilkerson said. "But Jesus had a nickname: 'The friend of sinners.'"
"I think this book is a great introduction for people who have never heard the Gospel and it's a great reminder for people who have been walking with Jesus to bring them back to the core of what their faith is," he continued.
Vous Church, frequented by a slew of A-listers including Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, was established with the mission of reaching those who wouldn't set foot in a traditional church with the love of Jesus, Wilkerson said. The pastor and his wife, who recently welcomed their first son into the world after an eight-year battle with infertility, also take their ministry to the street, meeting people in their own backyard and sharing the message of God's grace, love, forgiveness and friendship.
"Jesus was here to reach the misfits, He was here to touch humanity," Wilkerson said. "I want to make sure that I'm a part of a church that is creating a place for people to come and hear the message, and if we're not careful we can create circles that are hard to get in. it's important to create safe places for people to hear who Jesus is."
He added, "Overall, I think people are cool with Jesus — they've just met too many Christians. I want to make sure they know who Jesus really is."
Wilkerson, a fourth-generation Pentecostal preacher, said that for our broken culture to truly change, Christians must be willing to establish relationships with those who don't necessarily look or act like them.
"Once we're in a relationship with Jesus, the two great attributes He gives us is grace and truth," he explained. "Grace doesn't mean He doesn't point out areas where people need to grow and change, but grace comes first. You have to build the relationship first. I think many times people of faith focus on change, and then relationships. Where the line comes into place is that grace and relationship come first, and speaking the truth and talking about truth follows relationship."
"One of my greatest challenges in church life today is that they see other people as projects," he continued. "Let's instead build real relationships and live an authentic life for Jesus. Then, you'll have an opportunity to share truth. This book is a challenge to other believers to step out and engage with culture."
Friend of Sinners: Why Jesus Cares More About Relationship than Perfection will be available online and in stores nationwide on March 13, and is available now for pre-order.