This was the question I got…
Sunday morning I did what I usually do on Sunday mornings. I went to PublicUs for some coffee and quiet. Before we begin to setup for the Sunday discussions I try and get my head and heart ready in one of my most favorite creative spaces. Last Sunday I took my son with me. He likes being with daddy and he loves the walk from the coffee shop to the gathering space.
As we were leaving we ran into a former neighbor. I see him regularly on Sunday mornings as he has a similar ritual. He’s about my age, tall, and the epitome of downtown living. He’s creative, entrepreneurial, and super cool. I enjoy the mornings when we can take the time to chat.
“So, what do you think of all of this Kanye stuff?”
He knows I’m a pastor and a follower of Jesus. And as I’m sure many pastors have done lately, we had a conversation on my thoughts about Kanye’s conversion. I didn’t mind at all. I listened to the album right when it came out. I was just as interested as anyone. What would this album look like now that Kanye follows Jesus? And yes, I believe he’s had a life change. I believe he follows Jesus.
This is how I started my answer…
I’m not one to doubt conversion stories. For someone to one day be living for, promoting, and wrapped up in sin and self and the very next be praising Jesus for a new life is exactly what I believe can and does happen. It’s why I do what I do.
“Old things are passed and the new has come,” says the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. And who better to understand a miraculous conversion than the guy who was literally knocked down, blinded, and spoken to by Jesus himself?
I’m excited for Kanye. I’ve prayed for some of my favorite artists and actors to respond to the Good News of Jesus for years. I’ve thought many times that God might even call me to LA to begin a unique “ministry to the stars.” I think the gospel is for the everyone. That includes rappers and actresses, and murderers, the rich and poor alike.
This is how I ended my response…
I did, however, have some additional thoughts concerning Kanye and Christianity. Here’s a few things I said and a bit more elaboration:
- Celebrity concerns me. Too many times when a celebrity begins to follow Jesus they naturally gravitate towards celebrity-level pastors and faith leaders. This concerns me because what often happens is an even brighter, more divisive light is shone on them. It’s rarely a cause for unity within the church or America. Case in point, Kanye will be at Joel O’Steen’s church service this weekend. Guess what? People are divided on what they think about this. And all eyes are watching. Many are waiting for O’Steen or Kanye to say/do something they can call out to diminish Kanye and his experiences. Also, celebrity pastors love celebrity and using it for God, but all too often they set celebrities up for failure. Which leads me to my next point…
- Discipleship matters most. There’s a word for those who are learning and following the way of Jesus, disciple. New believers need to be discipled, not paraded. They need relational direction not a microphone. I’d love to hear that there’s a solid faith leader taking Kanye under his wing to love him and show him what it means to follow Jesus.
- Make authentic music please! I didn’t like the album. There I said it. I won’t pander. It wasn’t very good, in my humble opinion. I loved his song Follow God, but from my perspective Jesus Walks is more authentic than anything on this newest album. Don’t “church it up.” Be real. Speak from transformation. Rap about the same issues you did before but from a new, Christ-like perspective. Make good music for everyone and the impact will have a much further reach.
Now, I’m just a pastor. I’m a regular guy with my opinions. But I was asked and I answered. You might have a totally different take on everything and I respect that. But…
Here’s my biggest takeaway: I got to have a faith conversation with someone because Kanye loves and follows Jesus too.
He’s my brother in Christ. I’m excited for him. And I’m glad his faith has opened the door for me to discuss life and faith with people in my community. Thanks Kanye!