My Sunday story about Paul Daugherty taking over as senior pastor of Victory Christian Center next month drew a response from one person who said Daugherty’s bachelor’s degree in theology from Oral Roberts University was insufficient education for a person in such an elevated position.
Another countered that his lifetime of working closely daily with his parents – Billy Joe and Sharon Daugherty, founders of Victory - was worth far more than any piece of paper from a college; that he has been preaching at Victory for years, as well as ministering around the world on missions trips; and that most Victory people value his heart and his compassion over academic credentials.
Historically, the charismatic and Pentecostal branches of Christianity have been less interested in academics than denominational churches, and more interested in leaders who exhibit a sincere faith in God, strong moral character and what the Bible calls the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.
But these days a lot of charismatic leaders have a string of letters after their names. Even Billy Joe Daugherty had an earned doctorate degree, although he made little of it and many of his own members didn’t know it.
Another issue the story skirted around was nepotism.
A lot of sons step into roles built by their fathers and sometimes it works well. Joel Osteen grew up under the ministry of his father, John Osteen, and has taken Lakewood Church in Houston to levels his father probably never envisioned.
There’s something about the heart of a father that wants to pass along his life work to his son. Some sons are eager to accept it, but others want no part of it. Richard Roberts once told me he accepted the position as president of Oral Roberts University because his father wanted him to, but that it was not really what he wanted, and that he’s much happier preaching and praying for people than running a university.
And then there’s the age issue. I heard this week from Warren Bird, research director for Leadership Network, which tracks pastor ages for their Next Gen Pastors initiative. He said that Daugherty will be the youngest megachurch pastor in the nation. By definition, a megachurch draw 2000 or more weekly worshippers.
I would point out two things. First, that Daugherty’s father was about the same age when he started Victory, and it quickly grew into a megachurch. And second, and I'll probably catch it for saying this, but I believe Jesus was about the same age when he started his ministry.