Dear God: Is Dallas society ready for Fellowship Church’s sex-loving, million-dollar minister?

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Fellowship Church’s effusive Ed Young and his wife are loving the Lord, having more sex than you and staking their claim in the best neighborhoods in town. Can a reality show about this million-dollar minister and his gleaming family be far away? (No.)

Fellowship Church pastor Ed Young and his wife Lisa, in front of their $1.5 million home in Bluffview Estates

by CHRISTOPHER WYNN

photographs by ADAM FISH

A man approaches me in the parking lot of Highland Park Village, wearing a T-shirt that reads: “Walking Dead.” He extends a friendly hand. “Are you here for church?” Yes. “Is this your first time?” Yes. (Maybe it shows?)

It is early Sunday morning. The swanky boutiques that keep Sunday hours here — the likes of Dior, Diane von Furstenberg and Jimmy Choo — won’t open till noon and 1, but the movie theater at Dallas’ most elite shopping center is buzzing with activity, and none of it film-related. The job of the man in the T-shirt is to lead newcomers to the greeters standing beneath the theater marquee. “Good morning!” says a stylish young woman at the door.

Those newcomers are ushered inside and wrangled by volunteers, who introduce themselves in rapid-fire succession. An oversize foamcore signin the lobby depicts a desolate cityscape with bold white letters proclaiming: “Walking Dead: Life Is Too Good Not to Live. A new series by Ed Young.”

A sermon hooked to a popular cable-TV zombie show? Edwin Barry Young knows how to titillate and provoke. The charismatic, controversial founder and senior pastor of the sprawling Grapevine-based Fellowship Church burst onto the national scene in 2008, when he challenged the church’s married couples to have seven days of sex for greater emotional intimacy. (“Some of the men in the congregation cheered,” says Young’s wife, Lisa Lee Young, who leads Fellowship’s women’s ministry, called Flavour.) The ensuing media frenzy included an interview with the Youngs on CNN and a squirmy sit-down for Ed with interruptive satirist Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. In 2012, Ed and Lisa promoted their resulting book, Sexperiment: Seven Days to Lasting Intimacy With Your Spouse (it landed a No. 3 spot that year on The New York Times best-sellers list, in the “Advice & Misc.” category) by bedding down together, sans actual sex, for 24 hours on the roof of their church. The bed-in was streamed live on the Internet. (The stunt also ended with emergency medical attention. The intense lights aimed at the couple and reflected off the crisp white sheets injured their eyes.) On Easter Sunday 2012, Young raised the dander of animal activists when he appeared at the pulpit holding a lamb while a caged lion shared the same stage. “I think his methods are unconventional,” says Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas (and famous friend to Oprah), “but his message is conventional.”

The antics-for-Christ have helped Young expand his evangelical empire to five satellite outposts in North Texas; two churches in Miami; one in Columbia, South Carolina; a resort-like summer camp and church called Allaso Ranch in Hawkins, Texas; and, just in October, a church in the trendy Shoreditch district of London. He uses a high-tech satellite broadcast system to beam his weekly sermons from Grapevine to each location and worldwide online via “EdTV,” found on edyoung.com. He also makes the rounds in person. Young’s unconventional ministry has attracted high-profile visitors and congregants, including Dallas Cowboys players and their wives and girlfriends, hip-hop producer Timbaland and billionaire Dallas developer Gene Phillips and his wife, Roxanne. (For perspective, the Phillipses count George W. Bush and Tom Hicks among their neighbors.) Last month, one of the Real Housewives of Orange County attended the Grapevine church with her husband. There was no camera crew in tow, but the star hardly blended into the crowd in her frothy pink dress and Valentino pumps.

Young’s ministry has also attracted other attention. In 2010, WFAA-TV Channel 8 aired reports on Young’s finances and travels after investigating what an anonymous former staffer called the minister’s “lavish lifestyle that keeps increasing,” including the use of a private jet, a $1.5 million estate on Grapevine Lake (now sold) and a $1.1 million luxury condominium in Miami. Reporter Brett Shipp cited unnamed sources who put the pastor’s salary at $1 million and said records revealed Young was paid an annual housing allowance of $240,000. The stories also cited a number of for-profit companies on the side of Fellowship Church. The pastor says that, to this day, he has still never watched or read the Channel 8 reports, but he knows their contents and that “many of those figures — and I don’t know all of them — were not even accurate.” Young says his salary is set by the church’s independent compensation committee in accordance with industry standards, that he uses a private jet leased by the church because it is simply more practical with his unyielding travel schedule and that he reimburses the church for any personal trips. In one of the stories, a spokesman for Young said that “any transactions between the senior pastor and the church are conducted at arm’s-length with full disclosure to and approval by the board. The same board, he said, approves all spending decisions and that the church’s financial books are audited by an outside accounting firm.

Young already had a thriving church outpost in downtown Dallas, but he got the idea to launch Fellowship Park Cities at Highland Park Village after spending time at the busy Starbucks there. It teems daily with affluent types from Highland Park and University Park, and the parking spots around the coffeehouse are heavy on the Bentleys, Porsches and spotless Suburbans. Around the same time, the Youngs moved into a $1.5 million Mediterranean manor in Bluffview Estates, bought from foreclosure. (The house is owned by Mangrove Revocable Trust, according to the Dallas Central Appraisal District.) Surely the management at Village Theatre was happy to sign a lease to fill its otherwise empty seats on Sunday mornings.

Church newcomers may be disappointed to see that the concessions stand at the top of the escalator is closed this morning. (The church plans to fire up the popcorn machines next summer.) More volunteers emerge to greet and direct; they are mostly young, good-looking and casually hip. Jesus in J. Crew. First-timers are ushered into the VIP lounge — the theater’s bar, but a large foamcore welcome sign on the bar top obscures the view of the alcohol — to pick up their blue swag bag. Inside is a welcome DVD and a copy of one of Young’s 14 books, You! The Journey to the Center of Your Worth.

Church happens inside a theater with plush leather stadium seats. As approximately 50 congregants trickle in — hipster dads with Sunday-morning stubble and retro eyeglasses, women in designer jeans with their hair pulled into ponytails — an extended remix of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” thumps through the sound system. (The church embraces secular music.) The house music fades. A band in front begins a set of contemporary songs, some with vaguely spiritual lyrics. The leader of this morning’s service is 32-year-old Landon Pickering, whose title at Fellowship is global youth pastor. He is also the pastor at this branch and at the church’s downtown Dallas location. Pickering (he goes by “l_pick” on Instagram) welcomes the crowd with enthusiasm. They hand it back. Pickering has movie-star looks, tatts on his arms and speaks in a sort of urban dialect. He is also dating his boss’s eldest daughter, LeeBeth Young, 27, who works in communications and video for the church and is on hand this morning to help out.

The screen darkens. A video with better special effects than most Syfy channel shows begins. It depicts a set of bones magically being enveloped in tendons, then flesh, then skin, until a whole man — naked and ripped, but shown in chaste tight shots — stands upright. Music swells. Cross-dissolve. Ed Young is now on-screen, live, at the Grapevine church, flanked by two medical-supply skeletons. The hashtag for today’s sermon and the handles of Ed’s Twitter and Instagram accounts remain posted in the screen’s lower corner. Want to accept Christ into your life at the end of the service? Hit #32898 on your smartphone and ushers will assist. Young wears a black hoodie with shiny zippers, snug rust-colored pants and chunky lace-up black boots. Later that morning, for the 11:30 service at the mother church, he will don a new outfit: blue oxford button-down, plaid vest, jeans cuffed at the ankles and wingtips with no socks. (One of Young’s side projects is a blog he started, called pastorfashion.com.) Ahead of his arrival? An elaborate production number interpreting “Radioactive,” an end-times anthem and hit song by Las Vegas rock band Imagine Dragons. A young woman on-stage sings the apocalyptic tune while laser lights slice through a thickening mist from a fog machine. Behind her, three jumbo screens flash disturbing images of gas masks. At stagefront, two breakdancers in yellow biohazard suits contort and gyrate, and simulate drum-beating on large toxic-waste barrels.

Most pastors would find this a tough act to follow.

Not Young. He is a skilled and animated public speaker, constantly in motion on-stage. He is quick to poke fun at his own persona. One moment, he is quoting Scripture or employing his catchphrase of taking things to a “whole ’nother level.” The next, he is offering a personal anecdote. On this morning, as his message gets serious, he clues in the congregation to pay attention because the real takeaway is about to come next: “Here’s the phrase that pays …”

 

A bullet-resistant Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is parked in the tree-shaded, half-circle driveway of the Youngs’ home. The boxy SUV — G-Wagens were military vehicles first, now the preferred ride of popes and potentates — has a dark gray, matte finish, not from paint but from a custom Kevlar coating. Its massive black-spoke wheels would be the envy of any rap star. Ed Young isn’t paranoid about security: He just thought the G-Wagen looked cool. Young is like a grown-up teenager — only, instead of saving up paychecks from bagging groceries to buy a loud, gassy muscle car, he is blessed with the means to drop six figures on an assault-proof fishing truck. For daily driving, he rocks a Range Rover.

Multiple personalities: The Youngs, from left: Ed, Lisa, Landra and E.J., at home in Bluffview Estates

Welcome to the heightened reality that is life with the Youngs. Go ahead and compare them to a Christianized version of a certain other well-funded, camera-friendly family: the Kardashians. It is unavoidable — especially when you learn the Youngs are in talks to star in their own reality show. Last month, an L.A. producer pitched the project to A&E; meetings with other networks are scheduled. “We have not signed anything,” says Ed, stylish in a gray-and-plaid reversible shirt. Ed’s youthful appearance, at 52, aided by his constantly changing hair color and hairstyle, have made him a target for cosmetic-surgery chatter online. (He says he has tried only Botox.)

The Youngs have been approached repeatedly over the years to do a show, and they feel comfortable enough with this producer and the production company to consider it — cautiously. The show’s angle is how the family says it lives out a message of God’s love. (Bonus ratings if there are any train wrecks along the way.) “If we would have some sort of guidance over editing” of the footage, Ed says, sounding both savvy and naive, “I don’t mind showing anybody anything.”

All of the requisite glossy ingredients are in place for a show. First, there is the setting. The Youngs’ palatial manor — 7,100 square feet, arched windows, Spanish-tile roof — is a glamorous backdrop. Inside, the soaring ceilings and graciously sized rooms are both attractive to look at and ample enough to accommodate a camera crew. Photogenic details abound. In the formal living room is perhaps the ultimate coffee-table book: a bedazzling Bible. The heavy tome is adorned with ornate metal trim and costume emeralds, a gift from designer Kimberly Wolcott, whose jeweled crosses and Bibles are sold at Neiman Marcus. The walls and ornate woodwork in Ed’s study, where he writes, reads and prays, are painted a striking peacock blue. On one wall are two mounted fish, caught during Ed’s many saltwater fly-fishing trips. Over the mantel is a striking portrait of Jesus Christ. Ed sketched it with pencil, then painted it in, onstage, during an Easter service. (He is a capable artist, as are several members of his extended family.) Like the portrait? Prints of Ed’s Jesus are stacked up for sale at The Source, Fellowship’s bookstore and coffee shop at the Grapevine campus.

Next, there is the telegenic family and requisite quirky entourage. Ed and Lisa each have personal assistants to help them manage their growing empire of churches, media projects, speaking engagements and outreach work. Ed’s assistant, Renee Wilson, a longtime Fellowship member, already has TV cred as a former contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Families. She lost 106 pounds while she appeared on the show in 2008 with her estranged daughter from Fort Worth. Her daughter won the season, becoming the second female biggest loser in the series’ history at that time. (Wilson: “I was like, ‘God, I want to lose weight and reconcile with my daughter.’ Did I think it was going to be on national TV? No.”)

Rounding out the potential cast are the Youngs’ two children, out of four, who still live at home. Ed Jr., who goes by E.J., is 22, and with his deep-set eyes and penchant for skinny jeans, resembles his father. E.J. works for the church doing graphic design and social media, but dabbles in photography, perhaps trying to develop his own world — always a great plotline. Even better, his hobbies include loading up his own Mercedes SUV, an M-Class, with friends and longboards to skate in empty parking lots after dark. The visuals can’t be beat.

Landra, the youngest Young at home, says that as a P.K. — a Preacher’s Kid — she is used to life on display. “There is a beautiful side, and there is also a brutal side.” At 19, she is maturely aware that other girls are looking at how she conducts her life and even her clothes. “I just try and dress appropriately and try to be an example to other girls because I know, being in the fishbowl, little girls are watching. … So I just try to set a good example.” (That is more than you’ll ever get from Kim Kardashian.) Landra even makes a comment later that could be spun into promotional gold for the potential show. In discussing a church excursion to Johannesburg, she notes: “You find the best shopping on mission trips.”

Landra’s twin, Laurie, is a freshman at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.; she will be home for visits. The oldest sister, LeeBeth, lives in a 1960s house she fixed up in Grapevine but says her parents have suggested she buy the house behind theirs and redo it, to be closer to them. (A potential show could help finance a lot of real estate, especially if it means more scenes and more action.) LeeBeth scoffs at the idea and jokes that she isn’t sure if she is ready to live that close. Either way, her boyfriend, Landon Pickering, the cool-dude pastor with the strong jaw and the heart of gold, could fulfill a potential show’s need for a hunk character. Can you see the spinoff possibilities? Landon and LeeBeth Take Dallas. Maybe even London.

It does seem that all of the most superficial requirements of a reality show have been met by the Youngs’ outsize lives. But what producers likely wouldn’t dwell on — because it’s not good TV — is how much this family seems to love one another. It is evident in their interactions: the way they laugh together like friends, poking fun at one another in a good-natured way. This is a family that long ago learned how to close ranks amid the hot spotlight of their very public lives. Thus, mom Lisa, adjusting her denim top as our own photographer prepares to capture another shot of the family, expresses a stipulation for any potential show that may be difficult for a traditional network to sign off on: “It has to have a purpose.”

 

Things were different in the decades before the Youngs moved to the land of milk and honey and Mercedes-Benzes. Life was much simpler. Ed was 14 when he met Lisa — she was a few months older at 15 — in the youth group of his father’s church in Columbia, South Carolina. Lisa was pretty and well- mannered. Ed was cute, a little goofy and loved basketball and fishing. They hit it off immediately. Look on Ed’s Instagram account, ed_young, and you’ll see a photo he posted of the couple around age 17. Ed is tall and handsome in a double-breasted suit. Lisa is wearing hoop earrings and a heavily sprayed version of Farrah Fawcett’s wings. The caption reads: “She won ‘Miss Sportsarama’ that night.” Her reply to him a few lines down: “TMI.” Another photo shows the couple about a year later, in T-shirts. Lisa has no makeup, her hair is pulled back and she looks beautiful. Ed is mugging for the camera as the two of them hold up a bundle of fish dangling off the end of a line. “Even at 18 I knew she was the catch of my life!” reads Ed’s caption. Ed says the two dated consistently “from the time that we met until we got married.” Both were 21 when they wed in 1982. Ed attended Florida State University on a basketball scholarship. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Houston Baptist University, where Lisa also attended, working on a degree in early childhood education. By then, Young’s father had moved to Houston and was the senior pastor of Second Baptist Church.

Like his dad, Ed received The Call. “I always felt, ever since I was growing up, that I would go into the ministry, that I would be a pastor.” He earned a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and then he and Lisa settled in Houston, where he became an associate pastor at his father’s church. The differences in their approaches to ministering were vast. The senior Young’s church was all about tradition and ceremony. His son decided early on that old-fashioned church was not for everyone. In fact, he felt the rituals, the traditions, the measured hymns and the formality were possibly barriers, keeping spiritually hungry people away from the nourishment of God’s word. When Ed invited buddies to church, they couldn’t relate, they didn’t get it. He began thinking of a different way to communicate God’s message. “I was associated with a lot of people who were detached from God or maybe didn’t believe in him or had never been to church,” he says. “So, in my journey, I just always thought about having a Christian church and also being sensitive, being relevant to people who are seeking, who maybe did not even believe in the things of God.”

The opportunity came when Ed heard about a group of families in the Dallas area looking for a pastor. They had created an offshoot of the First Baptist Church in Irving, called Las Colinas Baptist Church. They later renamed it Fellowship of Las Colinas. Ed felt called to lead them, but to his chagrin: He and Lisa had always planned to serve outside of the saturated Southern Bible Belt, in someplace more “unchurched,” such as Northern California or Canada. God apparently had other plans. Ed, Lisa and their first child, LeeBeth, moved to North Texas in 1990. “We had one child, one car and we lived in a rent house that was — not the greatest,” Ed says. The church’s meeting spaces evolved over the next nine years, from a rented Irving office space to rented quarters inside the Irving Arts Center, then across the street into the theater in MacArthur High School. (By that point, the pop-up church would go through the elaborate and cumbersome process of setting up equipment for service each Sunday, then tearing it all down.) During this time, the Youngs’ son was born, in 1991, but that brought its own challenges when E.J. was diagnosed at 4 months old with neurofibromatosis. As E.J. now describes it, matter-of-factly: “It’s a neurological disease where tumors grow, like, on the nerve endings.” His mother sees the good with their bad: “Amazingly, he has gone through the 22 years of his life with non-life- threatening issues.” After E.J.’s birth, doctors had news for Lisa and Ed themselves: They wouldn’t be able to conceive again without fertility treatments. The Youngs were devastated. They wanted more children; that had always been part of their dream.

Pastor Ed Young in his study at home. Over the mantel is a portrait of Jesus. Young sketched it with pencil, then painted it in, onstage, during an Easter service. Prints are offered for sale at Fellowship Church's bookstore and coffee shop in Grapevine.

Ed began putting away money from his modest but increasing church salary. Eventually, he had enough funds — Lisa puts it at around $10,000 — for the treatments they needed. (“For us, at the time,” Ed recalls, “it was a lot of money.”) Around the same time, the ever-growing church learned that a well-located parcel of land, north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, was being auctioned by a government-owned asset-management company. The 160 acres were more than they needed — or could afford — but it was a rare opportunity. The Youngs felt led to take the money they had saved for the treatments and give it to the church.

Not long after, the Youngs got some news: Lisa was pregnant. With twins. (Ed says she took no fertility treatments.) The church eventually bought the $2.5 million tract in 1994, with an $800,000 down payment. Two years later, it was announced that the gargantuan Grapevine Mills shopping mall would be built across the highway. The church received unsolicited offers for parts of its land, suddenly desirable for developers, and sold off 23 acres for $1.675 million — the exact balance owed on its property note. Construction ensued, and two years later, in 1998, the newly rechristened Fellowship Church moved into its new megabuilding. Ed’s father spoke at the dedication service.

 

Today, Fellowship Church estimates its weekly attendance, across its branches, at 20,000. Many compare Ed Young’s ministry to fellow Texas superevangelists Joel Osteen, of Lakewood Church in Houston, and Bishop Jakes at Potter’s House. Young is flattered by the comparisons, but says he is hardly operating on the same scale. That may be true, but his fellow ministers with means are no strangers to the issues of God versus gaudy.

In October, Jakes spoke out about the Oxygen network’s flashy new reality show, Preachers of L.A., in a sermon: “Now, I know you been watching that junk on TV. I want to tell you, right now, not one dime of what you’re sowing right now will buy my suit. I want you to know my car is paid for. I want you to know I got my house on my own. I want you to know I’m not bling-blinging. I am not shake-and-bake. I had money when I came to Dallas, and I plan to have some when I leave.” He added later: “I have sold enough books and produced enough movies. I don’t need your offering to pay for this little slimy suit. So I rebuke that spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Osteen had his own heart-to-heart on the issue last year with Oprah. He told Winfrey that he no longer takes a salary from the church and now lives off his book royalties. He said he celebrates God’s blessings and offers no apologies for his wealth.

Ed Young would agree. “We should not apologize for the blessings of God. It’s not how much you have, or how much you make. It’s how much you give.” Case in point: Ed says he and Lisa received a six-figure advance for their Sexperiment book. He announced at Fellowship that the couple was donating all of the profits and royalties from the best-seller to the church. The Youngs say they streamline all of their giving through Fellowship Church and its missions in Haiti and Guatemala. Lisa says the Flavour women’s ministry also assists the national charity Exodus Housing and the Pine Street rehabilitation center in Fort Worth.

But it’s hard to escape criticisms of living too large — and, hence, being insincere — especially in the age of social media. Ed admits he is not perfect, but he tries to please an audience of one: God. “I don’t think you can make a case — in fact, I know that you can’t — for poverty in the Bible. And I don’t think you can make a case for wealth,” he says. “There are people in Scripture who are transcendently wealthy — I mean, a lot wealthier than even people that we would recognize in Dallas — Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus — they were some major, major hitters and some of the fathers of our faith. … Whenever you step out and God has blessed you, or you have any measure of success, people hate,” Ed says. “But, you know, you’ve got to love everybody and just do before God what he tells you to do.” Young is reminded of something he once heard, and says to his congre- gations: “Envy begins where your income ends.” Are we the ones with the baggage? Do we have a puritanical bias that ministers must live modestly? Ed says this belief stems from monasticism. “It was popularized in the Catholic church — you know, priests and nuns taking the oath of poverty.”

Dr. Elaine A. Heath, the McCreless professor of evangelism at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, knows the ideology well. Heath helped launch a network of New Monastic communities that teach people to live lives of sharing and simplicity — a theology of enough. “The word Christian literally means Little Christ,” she says. “And the early Christians were referred to as the ‘People of the Way’ before they were called Christians. So the idea was that these are people who look and act a lot like Jesus. And what we find with Jesus is that he’s always very cautious about wealth, and the power that wealth brings, because it always has a tendency to corrupt and to cause people to have a false sense of their own power and to use their power in increasingly selfish ways. That’s the tendency. That doesn’t mean it always happens.”

Heath says Jesus did not live a life of opulence. “He was a carpenter; he was a working person; his parents were poor.” She says this doesn’t mean anyone who is wealthy is wrong or bad, but that we should appreciate having an adequacy of food and clothing, that our passion and our energy should be spent loving God and loving our neighbors. “To me, the exemplary person right now — the global Christian leader who is really showing us how this can be done well — is Pope Francis,” Heath says. “Pope Francis could have luxury and wealth. That’s been normative for the popes. But he is actually modeling the way of Jesus. He is choosing a modest lifestyle. He has plenty of food and clothing, he lives in a nice little apartment, but he is not choosing opulence.” (In fact, Francis temporarily expelled a German bishop dubbed the “Bishop of Bling” after news of the bishop spending $42 million renovating his residence and other church buildings.)

Heath classifies Fellowship Church as what she calls one of the “entertainment ministries,” which don’t form disciples so much as followers. “They’ll get people to come in and say, ‘Hey, this a good show,’ but when it comes to developing people who live and act like Jesus, I’m not convinced that sensationalism does the job.” She says that she understands some people do come into a relationship with God through unconventional churches, “but this is not the sort of ministry that I see historically and globally bringing about real transformation in the world.”

Jakes takes issue with Heath’s entertainment label and says a better term would be contemporary ministries. He says younger generations communicate in different ways than their predecessors, embracing television and social media. He thinks Ed Young “translates the Christian message into the language of the times.”

Last year, one of Fellowship’s congregants, conservative radio talk-show host and Dallas Morning News opinion columnist Mark Davis, wrote an essay in The News defending his pastor. “If you prefer your church low-key and your pastor quiet and safe, Ed is not your man. He will put a bed on the roof and tell you it is about time people heard what Christ has to say about intimacy. He will integrate every element of contemporary music, high-tech presentation and modern vernacular to bring a very traditional message to thousands each week. It minces no words, it allows no fudging and leaves nothing uncertain.” He goes on: “Everyone is entitled to personal taste in terms of the worship they enjoy. Fellowship’s flavor is pure, unmitigated Bible 101 packaged in a 21st-century way that attracts tattooed 20-somethings alongside grandparents. While some find these trappings a bit intense, others may be challenged by the thoroughly traditional messages within: God said it, you need to believe it, and that settles it.”

Young says he is focused on his mission and tunes out the negative noise. “The ministry, I think, it’s the only occupation where you’re kind of whacked if you have any sort of success — and then if you’re not successful, they’ll whack you, so I think that’s just a part of our culture.” He touches on this dichotomy in his sermon series “WWJST …” or “What Would Jesus Say To …” where he hypothesizes a conversation between Jesus and celebrities such as Katy Perry, LeBron James, Ellen DeGeneres and, yes, Kim Kardashian. A promotional tagline for the series declares: “Jesus’ love encompasses the famous and fortunate, bold and beautiful, eccentric and outspoken, and the shocking and scandalous.”

Ironically, those descriptions now apply to Young. What would Jesus say to him? Young laughs at the question and pauses before answering. “He would say that, like all the other people, I am a sinner saved by grace. And he would want me — like he wants everybody else — to continue to pursue his unique purpose for my life, that Christianity is not boring, it’s exciting, innovative and creative. I think he would say learn from your mistakes and keep on walking in grace, and hopefully extend grace to other people — you know? That’s wealth.” —cwynn@dallasnews.com

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS AND PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS: ADAM FISH. PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: HOYOUNG LEE. HAIR AND MAKEUP: CORRIE-NICHOLE GUYNES.
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92 Comments

  1. Pingback: Dear God: Is Dallas society ready for Fellowship Church’s sex-loving, million … – Dallas Morning News | Donate Car to Charity California

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  3. Jesus would not stop throwing up. This confirms that there’s s sucker born every minute and a phoney baloney pastor to take them. God inc. is a sham. Wake up people. quit giving millionaires your money. You can suck up to God all by yourself and it doesn’t cost a thing.

    Oh yeah, time to start taxing the sh*t out of these hucksters for the Almighty.

  4. People, you don’t have to support the lavish lifestyle of some phoney baloney millionaire, shaman, guru, con artist to suck up to “You Know Who” and his Son. You can do it all by yourself and it doesn’t cost a thing. Anybody think it might be time to start taxing these holy rollers?

  5. Nora. you think Francis`s artlclee is terrific… on friday I bought a brand new Jaguar XJ after having earned $9048 this month and-more than, ten grand last munth. it’s by-far my favourite work I have ever had. I started this six months/ago and almost straight away earned more than $83 per hour. straight from the source…www.bay91.com

  6. Only in America. In turning its back on the teachings of Christ and the traditional meaning of Christianity, America is hastening its downfall.

  7. Now wait a sec, folks: one of the central teachings of Christ is: do not judge. I personally cannot stand Ed Young and his church. But I’ll leave the judging as to whether he is sincere in this faith up to God. How do I know to make that judgment? I cannot see inside the soul of Ed Young. Maybe he is sincere; maybe he’s not.

  8. I say go for it Ed & Lisa! Just be sure to include ‘Dog Days’ in one of the episodes! :) The message Ed spoke at ‘Dog Days’ 2012 was incredible! Wish I could have attended DD2013. Thrilled that lost souls who aren’t into church are attracted by your gift of energy and outreach for The Lord, so come to see what’s going on at Fellowship. Prayers for this project. Pj

  9. I didn’t even have to read the article to know what it was about. Epitome of organized religion making money off of their followers. so-called religion at it’s finest.

  10. Pingback: Saturday Ramblings 11.30.13 | internetmonk.com

  11. Pingback: Pastor Ed Young’s own reality Show | Coercion Code - "Dark Times are upon us"

  12. I’d love to “buy” into his positive energy, it’s just the more I’ve studied Christianity and read the bible, the tougher it is to believe. I like what it teaches for the most part, but It’s broze-age mythology at best written by people who thought the world was flat.

  13. what about all of the clean living, honest, muslims, athiests, jewish, mormon, etc. who are here staking their claim on the American dream? Are the hell-bound part of the downfall, lol?

  14. demand his message for free and tell Ed you’re gonna give your church budget to the poor, sick and homeless. Just to see what happens..

  15. he’s collecting big time cash in the name of Jesus…that’s not judgment, that’s fact. I’m not sure Jesus would be real happy with his scene.

  16. People like this make me want to vomit…. Ugghh. Thank heaven they didn’t move into my neighborhood.

  17. A nice hit piece. Title makes him sketchy. I met him. He is real, engaging, confident and he has a flock of followers. Good fir him. Bringing the good news to Dallas, Texas, the country and the world takes many types, and styles.

    They also need courage. Haters, like the devil himself, are everywhere.

    Jesus says pick up your cloak, kick the dust off your shoes and leave is the message is not welcomed.

    Jesus has mercy and determination to save the people. Through pastors,priests, ministers and missionaries he succeeds. Yes, the evil I’ve, too will be a wolf in sheeps clothing, too.

    This pastor is good.

    And for those without faith it is a gift. Unseen ,but there. You have faith in what you can see try something you cannot see. Yes scary, risky and out of your control.

    Christmas is the time to anticipate and celebrate Christi’s birth. Impossible made possible.

    This man brings that to you for free.

    If you benefit make a donation. If you did and did not pay…who is selfish. Denying another the opportunity to find The Lord. It does cost money to run a business.

  18. Chris, drug dealers, porn makers, anti god people and companies make money in the name of their product. Where is your scorn? Just don’t buy.

    You have a free will.

  19. Tom, start your own church. See how it goes. It’s tough. Thick skin will follow. Haters like you abound, but are a minority. Heck, jesus got crucified, his followers, stoned and killed. Seems it happens today, too. There is a cost in believing.

  20. This article smells like an infomercial just in time for the start of the Advent Christmas Season. As they say “There is no such thing as bad publicity”.

  21. So this complex and wonderful thing we call life is all based on some imaginary guy in the sky judging our collective conduct on Earth? He ordered killing in the old testament who is he to judge anyway?

  22. While you are judging, what exactly are YOU doing? Selling all you have and giving to the poor?

  23. I do plenty to help the poor and don’t need brownie points sent to the bearded imaginary white male above as incentive.

  24. Just a thought: Whether you believe the message of the Bible or not, your response is beneath its complexity and historic reality…something that exists in harmony or inspight of you and me. So, please (and I mean this with humility) take your investigation to the next level. Real question: What if there’s an honest narrative in there and cynicism is blinding you to it? What if that really matters? What if you’re right? How would you know? Serious men and women have been digging through Christianity’s story for generations upon generations. Some find a story that resonates truth. Others find something else. Point is, they’re not playing at it or dropping careless critiques…they’re seeking truth and learning. Please consider this.

  25. Pingback: Ed Young Of Fellowship Church To Star In Reality Show? | Praise 1300

  26. Pingback: Because You’ve Been Asking for a Reality Show Starring Ed Young, Jr.

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  29. it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

  30. I wish Ed cared more about the homeless than hipsters, but I guess better a bad preacher than no preacher at all.

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  32. Pingback: Ed Young Of Fellowship Church To Star In Reality Show? | WERE-AM 1490

  33. I think what bothers me so much about guys like Ed Young, Lui Giglio, Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen etc is the sheer CRAVENESS that they now openly espouse….especially since almost all of these people started off from extremely humble origins – white TRASH in most cases. No shame, apparently no CONSCIENCE, either. When Ed Young’s youngest daughter makes the statement that the best thing about mission trips is the SHOPPING, or that Young himself has NO problem buying a Kevlar-plated, armored Mercedes just because it looks COOL, beggars belief. These people have almost a Forrest Gump, sharecropper mentality – still living on the front porch of a SHANTY and defecating in outhouses in their subconscience – evidently once white trash, almost ALWAYS white trash. Does the Holy Spirit EVER convict them of ANYTHING? Doesn’t look like it. Makes me wonder if they ever got born-again to begin with.

  34. Please forgive my ‘white trash’ comments – completely inappropriate for a public forum. How people like Ed Young can consistently and sincerely act the way he does with a clear conscience (and still claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ) is beyond me. Everyone sins, myself included. However, to keep a clear conscience, repentance is eventually a MUST. It is NOT an option.

  35. I can see why some people have issues with Ed, but he is the most entertaining pastor I have ever heard. He got me to get up early on Sunday morning and go to church which is more than I can say for most pastors.

  36. This is my pastor and he helped changed my life for the better. What people don’t realize is that he is human. He is one of us. If he was rich from making movies or playing in the NBA nobody would have an issue. But he gets paid for helping people find peace… Peace in Jesus. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Everybody works for a living. Being a pastor is a job as well as a personal choice to help others. Just my opinion.

  37. Do the show my church family! The Youngs are truly great people and for those that talk all that smack start volunteering and showing up to church and maybe you will meet some awesome people besides the Youngs! I have to say for being a Meg church I have never felt more welcomed at FC out of the pass four churches that I have visited while living here in the Dallas area for 15yrs. For those that know DFW you can look for a church like looking for a Walmart but it’s up to you to pick right one.

  38. This is an AMAZING ministry–the only way to assess is to visit one of the FELLOWSHIP CHURCH campuses and judge for yourself.

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  42. He’s helping people know what matters most. empowering families is one of the best things I’ve learned from him.

  43. God loves us and so does Ed. Because of him, I became not only a bible reader, I also learned to obey what it says.

  44. Just do what you think is the best. Fellowship church and some other churches teaches us to become closer to God that’s why it’s a yes for me.

  45. I’m ready!

    It’s just a reality show…probably, it will tell something relevant and true for the family and FC members.

    it won’t harm you if you won’t let it to.

  46. Jeffery, thank you for the apology on the “White Trash” comments. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. I applaud your maturity in recognizing it and humbling yourself to make it right.

    I agree there seems to be a displacement of reality for this family and so many like them. Having been a missionary kid myself I was appalled at the daughters statement “The best thing about mission trips is the shopping.” Which shows a total lack in christian maturity or understanding of who she is meant to be as a child of God. All of us no matter how much money we make are called to be good stewards of those funds. I do not believe that the opulence in which they live is being good stewards. Do you know how many people could have had warm coats, medicine, food, perhaps even some repairs needed on homes that they will never be able to afford with the money he spent on that ridiculously “COOL” car. It just makes me sad. No wonder the world has such a dim view of Christians when this is the kind of press they see.

  47. Pingback: Is the Christian Reality Show Fad Harmful to the Faith? | Jonathan Merritt

  48. Father Help us in this hour where are Your ministers for Your people in this hour Oh LORD of Abraham. who are we serving the God on America’s money or You Yah please touch your people who are giving Your money to men and women like this who are not even being the storehouse for Your to come and receive help in these times of trouble as the church is supposed to be to us. But they are robbing your people saying we are giving to You LORD and we are not and our stomachs are growling and many of us are homeless. We cry unto You Oh Yah. Touch Your People.

  49. Be healed girlfriend wake up people we are living in the last hours and the Father is not playing games or doing reality shows, you guys will not be able to rund to Mr and Mrs. Young’s house when the sky cracks or when the moon turns red. Wake up Christians and Hear what the Spirit of Y”shua is saying to us in this last hour, its time to stop playing church. get a clue please church.

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  51. Laura O – you have misquoted. She did NOT say “the best thing about mission trips is the shopping” what she was quoted as saying was “You find the best shopping on mission trips”. There is a difference.

  52. Just curious….If you wrote books would you expect to give your profits to your place of employment or would you expect to keep those profits? My name is Dena – sorry I haven’t figured out how to change my name from Anonymous.

  53. Questions we should all ask ourselves: Do I attend church because I love and seek God (or because I feel guilty if I don’t)? Do I serve at my church? Do I tithe to my church as the Bible has asked me to do? Then you can move forward knowing you are obeying God. Matthew 7:3 says Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (NIV). My name is Dena Rambo (since it still shows Anonymous)

  54. Pingback: The Perils of Pastoral Wealth « Fall On Grace

  55. I got to meet Ed & his wife once they were really nice people in person….

    But I don’t understand the needs for the lavish lifestyle as identified here… To me that doesn’t make sense, yes I know everyone in the dfw wants to live at the tippy top but this seems a bit extravagant to me… just my 0.02

    hope everyone has a happy holiday aside from seeing this webpage ;)

  56. profits from what you have to ask…. from actual physical work or gifts given from others in the form of funds?

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