Who has the right to seek salvation and forgiveness? Is there a person out there beyond saving? Anyone have a lifetime ban on discipleship?
That's some of the conversation happening lately on social media, in sanctuaries, and around shops (barber/beauty). Lot of it due to Kanye West, because he's been staging a series of faith based gatherings across the country called Sunday Service. Attendance has been growing, along with attention, to the point that a few church hats have needed adjusting as they lob critiques.
From a black experience, this is the guy who put George Bush on blast during a telecom, rushed a stage in defense of Beyonce, and all after he'd dropped a track talking about Jesus that got played in clubs worldwide.
Culture × Church = Cool
People have followed Kanye from Chicago to NYC, past Nike towards Adidas. Is it any surprise that people would follow him to a revival?
Yeah, a revival. Early churches of all sorts would hold service underneath tents outdoors because large buildings to hold everyone weren't always available. So, they'd head to a stretch of land and get it going. When you see clips being circulated online of masses of people on grass fields, it seems reminiscent.
Go find some videos from a youth church group amid the 90’s and 00’s, this ain't new. It's just the now. At the time, those services would have a popular rap instrumental played while faith centric bars were laid on top from the young people - struggle bars or not, it’s a combo that’s been in flux for a minute now.
Kanye's a continuation of a long line of public people presenting a new face or sharing transformative faith. Al Green, Ma$e and Craig Mack are a few stars who took long term, reborn stances after legendary careers. Two years ago Snoop released a pretty good gospel album that faced some strong criticism as well. And for years rappers with the grittiest bars straight from the street accepted awards while first Thanking God.
What’s got people paying attention and the faith community talking is Kanye’s track record off stage. His rationale when it comes to supporting a racist and sexist government official appears hypocritical. That is, unless he's Baptist for service on Sunday and a southern Evangelical during the week at Bible study. It’s controversial and confusing, as are a lot of things in the faith community, but this is seen as a continued dangerous, problematic path. One that weaponizes ignorance and will take time to double back from proceeding down.
West is an artist who boldly intertwines worlds and also speaks his mind. Self admittedly, there's been a lot on his mind that has pivoted him towards strengthening his faith. Chance the Rapper is credited with helping him in that area. We all should be so blessed to have a friend that won't give up on us and doesn't see us as beyond saving. From what I hear, a Guy from Nazareth showed the world how years ago.
Jesus and His followers were known to go out and kick it with all sorts. And them disciples? Check their resumes, let's just say, being of the people is an understatement.
I don't care if you're a church, pastor, deacon, sneakerhead or music buff, for/against Kanye’s Service Movement, let's have an open dialogue about some things the institution of church is facing:
- Sexual Abuse Scandal
- Declining Millennial Attendance
- Lack of Transparency
- Ties to Tradition
- Rise of Tech Faith Based Resources
*List doesn't apply to all churches
A century ago, churches weren't letting women do much ministering and very little leadership. Now, they do most of it (kidding, kind of). My point is, even a church or circle of faith has a human element that requires a rigorous, constructive evaluation and accountability.
Sidestepping issues and avoiding conversations has turned off new visitors and some long standing members to accepting invitations to connect with faith anywhere else. So, what Kanye is doing could provide a place to be free and welcomed. The gathering of two or three among them brings hope.
Is a soul saved as a result of Sunday Service any less valid or valuable because Kanye was involved?
One answer could be the art - the music seems to transcends this. When ears hear music without judgement, it's allowed to move and be freely interpreted. Thereby connecting with the soul and excusing what was once exiled. Salvation.
One thing about West, he has a track record of using his gifts, whether deemed for selfish gain or altruistic aim. The question one might pose to the institutions: Are you mad at him for using his or more disappointed with yourself for not using yours? In Jesus’ name.
Conversion, growth, evolution make for a helluva set of debate topics. We used to see pimps retire and be reborn as preachers, dealers to deacons, prostitutes show up as prophetess; now there’s a guy who wants to go from moving soles off shelves to moving souls off despair. Some might say that’s impossible, sad thing is, occasionally the pissed off person is saying it from the front pew where last week the sermon was how all things are possible with God.
But, that might be expecting too much from the All mighty.
(image via xxl)