See the update at the end of this post on Sanctuary pastor Jay Haizlip saying Jesus Christ would have appeared on a reality show.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 9, 6:30 A.M.: "I don't think people really realize the weight and the pressure and the responsibility that pastors have on them. How they have the responsibility to care for their flock and their church and their people and just everything that comes at them. How they help people, and how they have to work through their own problems and own challenges. Most people don't realize that a pastor has challenges."
-Jay Haizlip, pastor of The Sanctuary church in Westminster, on what he thinks viewers will learn from watching the new docu-series Preachers of L.A. that he appears on as it debuts tonight on the Oxygen network.
Haizlip, a former pro skateboarder and cocaine addict who hit rock bottom before finding God, gave an in-depth interview to Nicola Menzie of the Christian Post in which he disclosed:
* He considered ending it all before Jesus took the pain away: "In that moment I felt like dying would be easier than living, and I honestly contemplated committing suicide. I thought, 'If this is life all has to offer me, living hurts too bad. I would rather die than live.' Because somehow that seemed like it wouldn't be as painful."
* The big guy called the Alabama native back to California: "God just really started dealing with me that we were to come here and to plant a church and start a church. So about 11 years ago, we moved. We sold our house, sold everything we had, walked away from all the stuff we had going on. People thought we were nuts, thought we were crazy, questioned why we were doing what we were doing, but we really sensed God wanted us to do this." ("We" refers to the 50-year-old and his wife Christy, who are parents of three.)
* He arrived in Huntington Beach with no church waiting for him: "So we started in a community center with a handful of broken people, a couple of blocks off the beach. Little by little the church grew, and the church has been in existence for 10 years. We have eight services a week, four on the main campus every Sunday, one at our Los Angeles campus ... then we have multiple mid-week services and different things we have going on. The church (size) is about 2,000-ish."
* He loves his nondenominational church: "There's all kinds of ethnicities there, all kinds of social backgrounds. It is not unusual to see a high-end luxury car like a Bentley in our parking lot and a few shopping carts, where people are homeless and they push their shopping cart up to the church to come in. The majority of our church is 20s-40s, even though we have people of all ages there. . . . There was a service where I remember I was standing on the platform preaching one day, and I look out at this row. There's a famous English actress, sitting next a very famous music producer, sitting next to this almost-homeless struggling heroin addict. I just looked at the diversity that was just sitting on this row. None of them knew each other but they're all sitting beside each other. I remember thinking to myself, 'This is so beautiful.'"
* He hopes people check the show out despite ads that played up some preachers' luxury lifestyles: "That initial trailer, it served its purpose. It has got a massive amount of people talking about this show, whether they agree with it or not. There is a huge interest in this show, and there are gonna be a lot of people watch it to see what it really is. ... The guys that are on the show, for the most part several of them I've gotten to know really well and I love those guys. They are real, they are genuine. I like all of them. The people that I've gotten to know, and I know all of them to some level. ... I mean these guys are good guys. They're not about their cars. The goal of ministry for them isn't about the size of their bank account or the kind of car they can drive or how big a house they can live in. That is way down the list of their priorities. Their number one priority is ministry."
The show, which debuts at 10 tonight, also follows Pastor Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach, Bishop Noel Jones of City of Refuge in Gardena, recording artist Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Ron Gibson of Life Church Of God In Christ in Riverside and Bishop Clarence McClendon of Full Harvest International Church in Los Angeles.
UPDATE, OCT. 15, 8:59 A.M.: Jay Haizlip said in a recent interview that a television reality show is the type of vehicle Jesus Christ would use to reach the masses were he mortal today.
"Really, this is the way that Jesus would communicate," Haizlip says via KWTX.com.
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As evidence, the senior pastor of The Sanctuary points out Mr. Christ spent far more time out in the community than preaching in synagogues.
Haizlip and other Preachers of L.A. cast members have been criticized for appearing on the reality show and being portrayed as material God boys. But another featured preacher, pastor Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach, says in the KWTX.com post that the Bible is sort of a reality show, revealing the flaws of its characters as well as their faith.