DISCLAIMER: Before you go any further in reading this I feel that it is only fair that I state up front I am a gigantic Taylor Swift fan, like one of epic proportions. So this post is not going to bash #taylornation, so proceed as you see fit.
Ok now that we have lost all the haters (and I have lost some readership), we can get down to business just one Swifty to another. About a month ago my 9 year old daughter and I loaded up into our 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan and headed down to Minute Maid Park with 41,000 of our closest friends to experience the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour.
Just let that sink in for a second – 41,000 ACTUAL PEOPLE! And this is just 1 of 84 stops at venues just as big if not bigger than Minute Maid Park. And in many cities she performed multiple nights in a row in the same venue because it simply was just not big enough.
Anyway, when we arrived at Minute Maid we parked multiple blocks away, walked to 1 of the many entrances, stood in line 30 minutes (just to get in), got searched as we walked in, waited 20 more minutes in line at the concession stand, waited 60 minutes in the merchandise line – and this all happened before we even found our seats. So to say that it had the potential to be a stressful situation would be an understatement, yet it did not at all feel stressful. I kid you not, I never heard one person complain one time. In fact anytime music started playing from the stage, the majority of people literally fled their spots in line (that they had been standing in for hours) and sprinted to their seats just in case it was Taylor starting her performance.
When we finally got to our seats I looked down our row and here was the demographic of the people on row L in section 105: a couple probably in their 50’s on a date night, a 31 year old mom and her 9 year old daughter (that’s us), 2 13 year old girls, a co-ed group of 5 college aged kids, and a group of 4 moms in their late 30’s early 40’s. Quite the eclectic group – sounds like the start to a pretty terrible joke actually. Finally 2.5 hours after the concert was suppose to start Taylor Swift rose up on a platform from underneath the stage and the place went freggin’ NUTS, and DID NOT STOP FOR THE NEXT 2 HOURS.
Remember the hodge podge group in section 105? Yeah, well not one of us sat down or stopped dancing the entire time Taylor was performing. In fact, everyone I saw was literally sweating, screaming the lyrics to every song. And, when it was all done, the lady sitting next to my daughter and I looked at me and said, “I wish I could do this again tomorrow night!” To which I replied, “She is going to be in Arlington next month, we should figure out a way to get tickets.”
WHAT!?! Who am I? Did I just say that? Did I just plan a road trip 4 hours away to a concert with a complete stranger? Why yes, yes I did. But the weird things is, that lady didn’t feel at all like a stranger, as a matter of fact we had this weird bond, as if we just shared a life changing experience together – and could not wait to do it again.
So what’s the point of this post, because your starting to lose interest…
Here’s my point: Instead of the local church trying to isolate themselves from culturally impacting movements, like Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour, why don’t we open our minds and imaginations and ask what can we learn from culturally iconic figures like Taylor Swift about engaging the culture we live in? When I thought about the concert in light of that question here is what I learned:
- Taylor Swift brings her A game every single night. In the life of church work, it is so easy to get in the routine of living Sunday to Sunday. To lose sight of what is at stake every Sunday when we open the doors of our church. As church leaders, it is so easy to just view it as another Sunday in which we make sure the coffee is brewed, the kids’ rooms are staffed, the message is ready to go, the chairs are straight, the list is checked. As Andy Stanley says, “You never know what hangs in the balance…” We should never take even 1 Sunday for granted. We don’t have a mission in which we can just mail it in, after all it is going to happen again in 7 days. You have no idea the back-story or the condition of each heart that walks through those doors. That means, no matter what your giftedness is or your job in your church, BRING YOU’RE A GAME every single SUNDAY. And if you aren’t serving in the local church and you consider yourself a Christ-follower, you have got to find somewhere to serve, because God may just use you this Sunday to change the eternal destiny of someone.
- Taylor never apologized, because she knew something we didn’t and she believed it was important we all experience it. Taylor did not rise up from the bottom of the stage, take the mic and start off the concert by saying, “I am so sorry that we are 2.5 hours late, and that many of you have already waited in lines for probably that same amount of time. And oh yeah, I’m also sorry that you had to take out a second mortgage on your house to pay for that t-shirt with my face on it.” I don’t think she elected not to do that because she didn’t realize what many of us went through just to be there that night, rather it was because she knew that what she had to offer for the next 2 hours would be so engaging and enthralling that by the time we walked out of Minute Maid Park, we would not even remember the experience we had walking in. So many times as church leaders we simply forget what we have to offer. We get so caught up in the fact that we don’t have a facility as awesome as the church down the street. Or maybe our teaching isn’t as charismatic as the next guy. When at the end of the day, we have nothing to apologize for as long as we are teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember we still need to bring our A game, but like Carey Nieuwhof says, “People showing up at church today want to experience God, not just get advice.” Which brings me to the last thing I learned from Taylor that night…
- Taylor Swift realizes all people really want is to be loved and accepted. During the concert Taylor said these 2 comments that I found striking: “You are not damaged goods just because you have made mistakes in your life" and “Let me tell you what you are not. You are not the opinion of someone that doesn't know you." Sound familiar?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Church it is time we step up and offer the real hope – Jesus Christ.