Bishop Clarence McClendon: Running an International Ministry Has Its Challenges
Bishop Clarence McClendon has been on a lifelong journey to spread the gospel, only to find that the cameras are just as interested in him. On Preachers of L.A., the Bishop juggles a difficult schedule, family life, matters of personal security, international ministering fame, and the occasional argument with a fellow preacher (ahem, Deitrick Haddon). While McClendon insists that everything is water under the bridge, he says he -- as a globally renowned Bishop -- faces a different set of challenges than most of the other preachers on the show. But that's not going to stop him from getting much more personal this season. Read the full Q&A below!
What made you want to be a part of the show?
Initially what drew me was my connection with [producer] Holly Carter. I had known her a number of years and knew that she was involved in attempts to merge faith and entertainment, and to present faith in a positive light. It was an opportunity to live and present it to an audience that actually wanted to see it, and bridge the gap to present it to an audience that may not be as aware. It was an opportunity to get the message of the gospel beyond the four walls of the church.
Is it hard to let people in on a personal level?
As preachers, we are so focused on getting out the message of the gospel, that sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that people are looking at you. When I first got on Christian television, my objective was to get the gospel out. I didn’t realize that people are looking in at me! It’s like having a window on the ground floor of your house, and people are looking into it. It wasn’t difficult, wasn’t easy, it was just an adjustment to make. We are accustomed to living a life that is somewhat visible to the public.
Will Season 2 show us a different aspect of your personality and family?
People will be intrigued by the interacting between me and my daughter. This season introduces my only daughter who is in the process of being married. People are going to see a more paternal side of me, and also an element of counsel that will happen between myself and the man she is to marry. I think people will see a bit more of intimate side of my life with my family. Also, they’ll see the business side of ministering with our expansion. I think people will be a bit surprised. I guess I come off as sort of the strategy-oriented, busiest guy on this project, but this season will show a different side.
What was the most challenging part about being on the show?
The most challenging was the coordinating my schedule! That was the most difficult part: finding the time to really shoot and give access. We [our church] have been expanding our outreach into Atlanta, Los Angeles, London – we are doing a great deal of traveling for a greater part of the year, and these things are scheduled a year in advance.
On Man Cave, your absence offended a few of the pastors. Is there anything you would like to say now, since you weren’t able to be there to defend yourself?
Jay Haizlip, Wayne Chaney, Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Gibson – these guys did not have the kind of visibility or notoriety that Bishop Noel Jones and I had going into this show. I was not introduced to people by the show. I have been on Christian television, and I’ve been traveling globally for a long time. Same with Noel Jones. So, for some of these guys, the show introduced them and gave them visibility. Also, the bulk of their ministry is local so they’re not traveling a great deal. For me, that has never been the case. I said to everyone going in: for me, God comes first, and we work around my schedule.
There were some tensions in Season 1 – would you say that you have since cultivated a relationship with the other cast members?
I think people got the idea that all of us knew each other, and that we were boys. That was never the case. Again, Noel and I have a relationship because we’ve been on this level for a number of years. We’ve been called globally. So, that relationship was already intact. In terms of everyone else, we never had a great deal of interaction aside from the task at hand.
Are you and Deitrick cool now?
My response is that there really is no challenge in the relationship. The show caught a moment of a difference of opinion, and two men of God who do very different things. Deitrick does a very different work from me. Attorneys, for example, don’t practice the same kind of law, but they may have differences of opinion based on assignment. Deitrick has his calling in the gospel, I have mine. I have no issue with Deitrick. I think people took from that what they wanted to take. As far as I’m concerned we are cool. Deitrick likes to entertain people.
Security was a major issue for you and your family last season. Does it continue to be?
The security of my family has always been an issue. Like I said, unlike some of the other pastors on this show, I have been nationally and internationally televising the gospel for over 15 years to a global audience. Any time you are doing something for that long, you open up your life up to people who wish you well, as well as those who wish you ill. I always have security around me, and I we always deal with issues legally.
How do you make time for your family with your busy schedule?
Pastors don’t get a weekend. Everyone else works during the week, but the weekend is the busiest time for a minister! Instead, Monday is my family day. Monday is a day of rest. My staff has to say NO, no matter what. That is my day with my family. That has to be protected. Even for the shoot schedule, we needed to work around those set family days. One has to do that, or else days of rests and days of family will be consumed.
What will you be doing on premiere day?
Actually, I’m going to be hosting an annual conference in Atlanta, so I’ll have to DVR it. That’s the story of my life. I don’t even get to watch my Christian television show!
Watch an interview with Bishop McClendon below!