A Circus, a Church, and the Death of Jan Crouch


“Everyone loves a circus.”

Or so it is said.

You want a circus? Follow the link and read the posts on Facebook regarding the passing of Trinity Broadcasting Network co-founder Jan Crouch.

If you become disoriented and never make your way back here, I’ll understand. No hard feelings.

A sampling:

You have the adoring masses who called her “Mamma Crouch,” and who felt compelled to send TBN their “grocery money” as a tithe, because despite the Marie Antoinette-levels of gaudiness and gilded Rococo glitz evidenced on the hallmark “Praise the Lord” program, TBN seemed perpetually low on turnips and Cheetos.

You have the men (mostly) who have a form of godliness but deny its power, who seem incapable of not getting in one last dig about some “charismatic leader,” because the only thing sacred to them is their own rightness. And strange fire. Lots and lots of talk about that.

You have the (non sequitur alert!) funny Calvinist site and increasingly shrill internet darling, The Babylon Bee, posting a pile-on jest about Crouch. Because, low-hanging fruit—and bandwidth costs a lot. Buy a BB T-shirt, please.

You have the folks who talk incessantly about the Gospel, yet at the same time they can’t help but comment about the spiritually blind Mamma Crouch people who have this weird idea that if they have enough faith in God, anything is possible. Because it’s childish to think that faith can move mountains. “You see any mountains move lately, Buddy? No, I didn’t think so. Now go back to waiting to die so you can go to heaven.”

You have the hardcore Pentecostals that see TBN as a mighty force for Truth, Justice, and The American Way, promulgators of genuine Kingdom Living, advancing the Cause of Christ against the bulwarks of the Enemy in this End Times Dispensation. Hallelujah. Oh, and Creflo needs a big jet.

And lastly, you have all the comments from homosexual men and drag queens, who saw Crouch’s purple hair, Cleopatra-inspired makeup, and “Stevie Nicks gone pink” fashion sense as a life-changing inspiration, though probably not in the way Crouch intended.


I could post a picture of Jan Crouch here. I could, but I won’t. You probably saw enough at Facebook.

I don’t know what to think about Jan Crouch and her husband, Paul, who died in 2013. As a young charismatic, I sometimes watched TBN to catch Christian music videos (“Real Videos,” anyone?) and to see if I could find something, anything, that showed what genuine Holy Ghost Christianity looked like. I found something else instead.

I do know this…

TBN presaged the slow turning of the Church in America. If anything, its success led to copying—if only tangentially and with massive denial of any hint of doing so—of its model. That glitz and showmanship crept into the larger Church, and larger churches was what it all became. Expand, take in money, and expand some more. Lasers. Disco balls. High-energy worship leaders. More, more, more. What we saw in TBN and decried, we saw in the wider Church just a few years later and embraced.

I have only one thing to say about all of this.

More than anything else, I want to start walking. I want to walk and walk until I can find some quiet place by a lake, where the breeze blows crisp and refreshing off the still waters, and I want to lie down on the shore and say, “God, I’m here. Please be with me. I need you so much.”

I don’t want frenzy.

I don’t want circuses.

I don’t want gilded lilies.

I don’t want darkened theaters filled with strobe lights and “high-octane worship.”

I don’t want a church that—no matter where you go or which denomination you turn to—feels like the same dog and pony show.

Somewhere, in the so-hard-to-find stillness, I just want to be where God is and dwell there in His embrace.

Maybe you do too.

6 thoughts on “A Circus, a Church, and the Death of Jan Crouch

  1. Heartspeak

    I didn’t know. Glad I didn’t know. No, I won’t go looking at the train wreck. Yes, I’m crying inside. Had a great conversation with a man I’ve been modeling discipleship to. It’s awesome to see God at work in folks around me. No lights, no loud music, just real life and relationships.

  2. Death is a result of the fall. Jesus came to save sinners and to establish a kingdom that will one day be consummated, with every curse of the fall being defeated, and the last enemy is death.

    There is no room for a Christian to take any joy in the death of another. Even in the passing of another Christian. That is why we may not grieve like those without hope, but we still do grieve. We must grieve.

  3. Diane Roberts

    When TBN began in the middle 70s, it was pretty good. There were lots of highly educated mainstream denominational charismatics as well as AG leaders. But sometime in the 1980s, they embraced the Word of Faith teachers and things began to change and IMO go down the drain. Before TBN and CBN, out here in So. California there was essentially almost evangelical TV programs, and certainly not in the Pentecostal/Charismatic mode. It’s too bad the Crouches followed the Jim Baker model including religious theme parks.

  4. akaGaGa

    “Somewhere, in the so-hard-to-find stillness, I just want to be where God is and dwell there in His embrace.”

    I suggest you stop looking for Him in buildings He has already left.

  5. We don’t have to walk anywhere, we’re already in the place where God is with us. God is not in the bluster, that’s so true, but if we think about it, he is in the cave where we are. At some point we can let our wonder–and frustration–with the hot air, the frenzy and pyrotechnics go because there’s still 7000 who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal.

  6. Dire Dan: “You want a circus? Follow the link and read the posts…”

    The whole Internet is a great big circus, where you can find every crazy thing and every crazy person imaginable, and even stuff you could never imagine.

    Therefore, no one should be surprised at all the craziness.

    I am sad that the lady died.

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