While the Instagram account PreachersNSneakers is just a little more than two weeks old, it has already amassed 81.3K fans — and most arguably aren’t just following to see the documentation of dope shoes.
The account — which was started by a man who goes by Tyler Jones, an alias — shares images of celebrity pastors, along with a closeup of their chosen footwear and the price tag of the kicks. Naturally, a person who has ever paid a tithe to their church of choice is bound to have some questions as to why a person leading a congregation is wearing thousand-dollar shoes.
Featured in the account’s collages are recognizable “celebrity” preachers, including, as Fashionista points out, Rich Wilkerson Jr., the officiant of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding, Judah Smith, a friend of Justin Bieber, and John Gray, who has a show on Oprah’s network. (Pastor Gray has previously faced controversy after he purchased his wife a $200K Lamborghini.)
According to Jones, he realized the account started to become bigger than a joke between friends when Chad Veach, founder of Zoe Church in Los Angeles, changed his Instagram handle (from @chadcveach to @chadveach) after responding to a post that pointed out a $1,980 Gucci backpack and a pair of $794 Rhude track pants that he was wearing.
“Wanna know what’s crazy? I legit did not pay for one thing i am wearing [sic].Is that wild to you? that’s wild to me… Thanks for the shout out tho. You’re a blessing,” Veach said in a comment, which was deleted before Jones had time to respond.
“I’m not trying to cause a division; me and him both believe inherently the same things. I just think that if you’re in church you should know how your pastor is spending the money,” Jones, who said he thought he understood church salaries, as his wife works for a church, said of the short-lived social media confrontation.
And while Jones himself doesn’t troll his subjects, plenty of commenters do. Some choice quotes include:
The lord Jesus walked around in sandals. Somebody photoshop some of these on Jesus
Is it sad that he wears shoes worth as much as I paid for my car?
That’s more than my mortgage…
I keep thinking about how people from my church would go on about how you shouldn’t give money to homeless people because they might not spend it responsibly…
Jones was inspired to create the account after he looked up a song by the band Elevation Worship and noticed the lead singer was wearing an expensive pair of Yeezy 750 Boost sneakers, retailing for up to $1,800. Armed with his two passions, Christianity and sneaker culture, he started to browse popular pastor accounts that he was already following on Instagram and began to document the instances where he recognized designer gear.
Jones voiced concern to Buzzfeed over the trolls who were inspired to go after these Christian leaders, but he still feels strongly that this is a discussion that needs to be had.
“I’ve had hundreds of pastors and people in ministry message me like ‘Thank you, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s prompting a discussion around what leadership and stewardship look like within the church,'” Jones told Fashionista.
“Somebody called me a hypocrite today and said that I was causing disunity within the church. But I’ve been pretty intentional to leave it relatively open-ended,” he said, alluding to the fact that Jones never outwardly criticizes these leaders and what they choose to wear. In fact, some pastors see it as Jones hyping them up and have asked to be featured on his page with their own look.
As for what Jesus Christ himself would wear if his second-coming occurred in 2019? Jones told the outlet, “I think he’d probably be wearing some open-toe Birkenstocks on a standard day. Then maybe if he was hanging around the house he’d be wearing some Air Max 1s that he bought from the outlet.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to pastors featured in the @PreachersNSneakers account, they did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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