Fat Preachers

I sit in the pews and listen. I’m not one of those people who scratch and search for an excuse to miss church every weekend. Sunday morning hits and I’m up, drinking coffee and praying. It’s my normal morning ritual, but something about a Sunday sunrise makes the conversation deeper. I don’t have many fancy clothes. Shoot, I only have one pair of jeans, but every Sunday I do my best to wear my best. My wife and I walk up the temple steps, give a shake and a smile to the greeters, and then we sit down. At this point I’ve had no qualms about anything. But then it happens. Up on the stage walks the preacher-pastor-associate-whatever you call him. He’s a man whose shirt fits almost as tight as his pants. Discomfort sweeps over me. He tugs on his pants like an old-western cowboy making sure that the bottom of his belly doesn’t protrude – as if he’s really hiding anything. On the podium rests his bible, and he decides to place the Burdon of his body against it too. And then he talks.

“We must abstain from temptation and SIN! God will not tolerate drunkenness, adultery, or homosexuality!”

Now I can barely look at him. It’s too awkward. I can literally hear how unhealthy he is as he preaches only to stop to gasp for air between reprimands. Thirty long minutes go by until he finally finishes. Whew, I think. It’s over. Then I hear him say,

“Now please join us in our potluck lunch.”

I feel like this is a hot topic issue in the church. And by hot topic I mean NOBODY is talking about it. In the south it is not uncommon to go to a church where most of the pastoral staff is heavily overweight. Not just “regular” big, but “how did you get that big “ big.  But this shouldn’t bother me, right? Or is it that this should bother you too?

Like the story above, preachers will talk about refraining from a lot of things, but that list never contains gluttony. Being fat is not seen as a sin, it’s almost as if it’s a requirement. In my experience I’ve seen a lot of perplexing situations with pastoral staff. Everything from people eating fast food with no remorse as it expands their waistline, to others having such horrible health practices that they get terminally ill. I can’t fathom how someone who preaches abstinence from worldly things, could blindly live in the world of gluttony. I’m flabbergasted. It’s complete irony to me, and I can’t be alone.

We won’t have preachers who cheat on their spouses. There are no alcoholic ministers. And yet, I see many obese pastors. Many of whom are not apologetic of what they’re doing to their temple.

1 Corinthian 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you’ve received from God. You are not your own.”

When I speak to athletes I always tell them that their bodies are for God. When they play they’re playing for an audience of ONE. It keeps them from worshiping their talents. Then I go to church and I see our leaders treat their bodies like garbage dumps. They spend each meal making their bodies about themselves.

Philippians 3:19 “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Sure, it’s hard to lose weight, but it’s not impossible. Living in a world where donuts are used to bribe kids on Sundays, fast food is the only food for meetings, and 44 oz. sodas are kept on stock is going to result in obesity. Pandemic obesity. So why do we sweep it under the rug in church? Because it’s a universal struggle that people deal with. Not everyone struggles with addiction, divorce, homosexuality, or many of the other sins preachers speak against, but everyone struggles with some form of overeating. And because it is so common, we sweep it under the rug.

Maybe I’ve been too close to too many churches, and I’ve just seen to many overweight preachers live and suffer through poor health. I’ve even gotten a bit calloused. I saw one family struggle with some pretty severe health ailments. It wasn’t a surprise to hear about their health practices – no exercise, plenty of soda, and fast food multiple times a week. As a Christian, a health specialist, and most importantly a friend I reached out. Bad idea. All I received back was a couple of excuses, and then a reassuring, “where going to see if the medicine helps.” A few months later I learned that their doctors prescribed a revolutionary diet and lifestyle change. Go figure.

Lucky for me, the head pastor at my church is quite the health fanatic. His enthusiasm doesn’t trickle down to everyone, but he is at least leading by example. No, he doesn’t have a 6 pack and 0% bodyfat, but he lives a healthy lifestyle. One of my best friends pastors a church and he regularly works out and eats relatively healthy; that’s all it takes. I might be pushing a sore topic that will no doubt fill my inbox with some tasteful emails, but I’m simply doing what I want my pastor to do – HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

In the south, talking about weight in church might be one of the touchiest subjects. This might be why I’m so will-driven to say something about it. I expect the man who stands by his podium holding his bible to live his life by the same code that he holds me too. Perhaps I’m just a health fanatic who cares too much about being able to walk around under my own strength as an 80 year old man while l spread the gospel. Sue me. The fact remains, the better we take care of our-selves today, the longer and better we will live later in life. Now, if you want to die as a brittle person hooked up to a bunch of tubes and wires as you lay bed ridden than be my guest. But that’s not me, and I’m pretty sure that’s not what God intended.

They say that hypocrisy is one of the biggest factors that keeps people from coming to church on Sundays. I don’t doubt that one bit. If someone told me to stop abusing my body while they ate junk food and added to their BMI, I’d be hard pressed not to think they’re a hypocrite. We are blessed to live in a time where obesity is more common than starvation, but that doesn’t mean we should take advantage of it. Everything is okay in moderation (okay not EVERYTHING, but most things).

But like I said, I’ll probably hear some flak for not addressing this issue as gracefully as someone might have hoped. Or, maybe, I’ll get to hear about how someone has decided to change their lifestyle to match their preaching. At least I’m hopeful.


  1. Good word... Sensuality suffocates spirituality

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.