Most people will be familiar to some extent to the country/pop mega star Taylor Swift. Some people are super fans whilst others are haters and probably trolling her on Twitter. I enjoy her music, I have from the first time I listened to her and I still enjoy it, to the extent of watching the Youtube Premier of Me!. Also, I enjoy observational learning, I think it can be helpful, accidentally profound and to some extent biblical considering so many of Jesus teaching points were relevant parables from an observant perspective and before you honk your heresy hooter, I am not saying Taylor Swift is a parable, I just think we can observe her and potentially learn a think or two for Church.
Four I dive into the four learning observations, a small piece of language clarification. When I use a capital ‘C’ for church I am referring to the universal single bride of Christ, the Church. However, if I talk about church or churches with a little ‘c’ I am meaning local faith communities/congregations.
1. Adaptability & Regeneration
People often talk about old Taylor and new Taylor. With a new album expected later on this year people have been talking about 7th Gen Taylor. Also for those of you who have watched or read anything about how Taylor produces her tours, shows, albums and songs you will find a big theatric thread running through it. Each album, tour and even some music videos are about telling a chapter of a story or a scene of a play. Inevitably the contents of these change with life phase and whatever else but there is something simply genius about how a music artist can reinvent themselves time and time again, never just staying the same old. Yes, this is due to creativity (and maybe money in the bank).
If you have a Christian faith then we worship they ultimate creative creator and we have more than money in the bank to drive us. The creator of everything says go and make disciples and we are made in His image: Creative. Why then do so many churches still meet on Sundays? Have twenty to forty minutes sermons? A community where you can leave for ten years, come back and the routine is the same?
To me that doesn’t sound like the creator we follow, nor does it sound like we are driven by anything more than our own comfortability. Let’s learn from the way Taylor keeps creativity at the forefront. Let’s embrace the creative nature we have been created with.
Not only does Taylor Swift continually changing her style, vibe and music, she is audacious (defined as: showing a willingness to take bold risks). When her new albums come out, she releases singles that are totally different to the music she had produced previously. Not only that, she’ll follow fans on social media for months before arranging a music listening house party with a group of totally random (and probably slightly obsessive strangers). She does live collaborations with other music artists. She tries to push her live shows to the next level every time. This things are risky with a lot of “what ifs” and plenty of room for failure.
I have seen churches spend a long time to dilly and dally around making a decision where more often than not money is the deciding factor. Sadly, often over what God is calling the church to do too! As Christians when God speaks, we must follow what He says. Often, this will be audacious, yet we can be sure because we know our loving Father, provider, protecter and guide. In fact, as a demonstration of faith, should we not be the people the rest of the world looks at and goes “you were bold to make that move”, then we go yes, because, through and by Jesus.
I’m sure there are other things which could be learnt, but for now, these are the two which stand out.