Paunchy pastor changed eating habits, won’t have to squeeze thru Pearly Gates


steve reynolds before and after

Steve Reynolds

Is eating the area where Christians have trouble with self-control? There are fellowship dinners and snacks at Bible studies. We may not go to the bar to drain alcoholic beverages, but we go to the restaurant and knock back the extra fries and milkshakes. It’s not a beer belly; it’s a potluck paunch.

Extra pounds around the waist or on the thighs are more often carried to church than Bibles. In fact, one pastor in Guatemala teased a slim colleague, “Pastor sin panza no da confianza,” which translated means: A pastor without a paunch doesn’t inspire confidence (it’s mirthful in Spanish because it rhymes).

But while there is a disturbing trend in Christianity toward obesity, there is a new generation of shepherds who are saying no to the second helping of shepherd’s pie.

joel-osteen abs

Joel Olsteen

Take Steve Reynold for example. The way he sees it, he was “trashing” his temple of the Holy Spirit (his body), according to US News & World Report. The pastor of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia weighed 340 pounds.

While Reynolds never pumped iron, he downed a tub of ice cream each night. While he circumvented cardio, he crammed carbs.

As a result, doctors ordered him to take eight separate medications to stave off diabetes and other disorders. At some point, Reynolds had an epiphany.

“I’m looking forward to heaven,” came the flash, “but I’m not ready to get there yet.”

church potluckReynolds had to upend some bad habits. He started an exercise regime and began a diet inspired by the Bible. It turns out the Holy Writ has much to say about healthy living, but he hadn’t noticed previously. By searching the word “body” in his concordance, he found some inspired guidance.

According to Reynolds, healthy diet and exercise “has been a kind of forsaken thing in churches.”

faithfully fitHealth Fitness Revolution unearthed stats to back up Reynolds’ claim: A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups, led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate. A 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% likelier be obese.

Jesus “could walk 40 miles, not in Reeboks but in leather sandals,” Reynolds wrote in his book. “Yet His followers on this planet are unhealthy, overweight, sedentary couch potatoes.”

As a result of the regimen developed by Reynolds, he dropped 100 pounds and no longer needed the medications. His findings and testimony were published in his book Bod4God.

“We believe our bodies are very important to our faith,” says Scott Roberts, head of William Jessup University’s kinesiology department, where faith-based fitness courses are offered.

chuck bernal before after

Pastor Chuck Bernal

If 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “Bodily exercise profiteth little” to highlight spiritual health, nevertheless the verse does says that there is value in physical health. The purpose is not to counter pose bad/good, but to compare good/better.

In 2014, Health Fitness Revolution named the top 10 fittest pastors. Joel Olsteen topped the list for his enviable six pack.

Scott Bennefield was also featured as the “Iron Man Pastor.” Prior to 1991, he never gave much thought to fitness. But then he decided he’d better start running for exercise. He progressed and amplified his goals: at age 43, the pastor of the New Covenant Church in New Mexico competed in his first Iron Man competition and completed six more by time of publication.

Chuck Bernal, pastor of the LifePointe Church in Crowley, Texas, also earned an honorable mention. Through diet and exercise, he slimmed down from 367 pounds to a fit 226.

Mega-church Pastor Rick Warren joined the list. His introduction to health came by way of baptizing 858 people. Two-thirds of the way through dunking disciples, his arms grew tired. And he noticed the excess water displacement by the obese — including himself. Consequently, he lost 30 pounds.

Today, there are Christian diet plans, aps, tapes, exercise routines — all of which motivate through the Word of God for the goal of fitness. Exercising has become as important to some as healthy eating. Read the rest of Christian health.

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10 responses to “Paunchy pastor changed eating habits, won’t have to squeeze thru Pearly Gates

  1. Indeed we should look after our body, given to us by Him, same as the earth, we need to look after!

  2. “Extra pounds around the waist or on the thighs are more often carried to church than Bibles.”
    time to become the Word made flesh instead of the plans and purposes of the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy our life: especially heinous is taking a child’s innocence by sexual sin, which is linked with obesity as an adult; a layer of fat to protect what couldn’t be protected as a child.
    may the church be healed and made whole in Christ Jesus, given the spirit and soul and body that the thief has stolen, killed or destroyed

  3. Well said my friend, and thank you – but (sigh) I’ve been preaching this for over 30 years and it usually takes a health scare before someone actually listens! Then they ask, “Why didn’t I do this sooner!” Just like accepting Christ.

    I practice what I preach in my books, blogs and healthier lifestyle as well as thru my Christian testimony. I’m approaching my 70th year in a couple of months and still feel 30. We live under Grace and can eat anything we desire as professed by 1 Corinthians 10:23. But I always remember that Honoring God is more important to me than bacon, Twinkies and donuts! Food is not my god: Philippians 6:19

    What (sadly) I’ve found is that people are sheep. They’ll follow a celebrity, diet formula or anything their tickling ears want to hear. I could see that Rick Warren was not practicing what he preached as he battled depression and extreme stress during a horrific personal time in his life. How I wish I could have counseled him then. Most dieters follow Guides blindly without researching for themselves how mental, physical and spiritual attacks can affect them and how to remain strong. I respectively suggest he someday read MY book. In the meantime, prayer is amazing! Blessings back, ❤

  4. Very, very true. My father, a missionary, wasn’t particularly overweight, but he didn’t get the exercise he needed and didn’t wake up from bypass surgery at 64. I’m currently 70 (and also a missionary) and people are shocked that I’m not in my 50s. I’m certainly not fanatical about it, but I walk 5K 2~3 times a week, and am maybe 10 lbs. above my “ideal” weight. Our bodies are tools entrusted to us by God, and we are responsible as stewards of these bodies.

  5. Ever notice how the predominant church potluck food color is brown? Green = lean.

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