“God’s goal for creation is community, a redeemed people dwelling in a renewed creation, enjoying the presence of a Triune God.
-Stanley J Grenz and Jay T Smith
Regardless of your age, you likely know the name Taylor Swift. Whether you appreciate her music or not, Taylor Swift has become a social icon in society today. The Eras Tour, which debuted hit songs from all 17 years of her music career, is projected to generate close to $5 billion in consumer spending in the United States alone. “If Taylor Swift were an economy, she’d be bigger than 50 countries,” said Dan Fleetwood, President of QuestionPro Research and Insights, in a story for Global NewsWire. On the opening night in Glendale, Arizona, the concert brought in more revenue for local businesses than Super Bowl LVII, which was held the previous February in the same stadium.
So what does Taylor Swift’s Eras tour have to do with your current life season, your church community, and your relationships? “Some 53% of U.S. adults said they were fans of Swift, and 16% identified themselves as ‘avid’ fans of the star.” Taylor Swift’s Eras tour speaks to an important part of the human experience: the desire to have some say over how we navigate change. Her music taps into something tangible about the human experience that clearly many people, regardless of age, can relate to. She’s tapped into the desire for agency, and for a narrative of love and strength that resonates with people–people of all ages. If you ask Taylor Swift fans what album they like the best, you will get a plethora of answers, depending on their age, their music interests, their personality, and their social or geographical location. It’s almost like there is a “Swifty church” that connects people.
Taylor Swift’s Eras tour has caught the attention of people of all social classes. World leaders have contacted Swift to ask her to bring her Eras tour to their countries to help boost their economies. She was also named The New York Times Person of the Year. Something about the global phenomena that is Taylor Swift is truly transcendent.
What could the church learn from Taylor Swift?
The variety of reasons set forth by Swifty fans is not unlike when you walk into any given church building on a Sunday morning. There are a wide variety of reasons why someone attending any given church appreciates that community. It may be that they grew up going to church and it feels comfortable to them, it may be that they are looking for a community, or they might be looking for instruction, or a choir, or Sunday School for their kids, but ideally in Christian Church communities, they are looking for a transcendent connection to Jesus.
While the craze with Taylor may seem absurd to some, it is instructive because it points to things that are missing in many church communities. Some think Taylor Swift is just another pop singer who made a living off of writing songs about her breakups, but for others, she is a female icon, exploring the intricacies and nuances of a girl coming of age trying to find her place in an industry that is anything but forgiving. Sadly, this is the case for many girls and women in the church as they age. Struggling to find their voice, many women walk away from the church because their fundamental identity and life narrative is no longer welcomed, affirmed and celebrated. Perhaps, this is what makes Taylor Swift so compelling. She has been able to put words to a part of the human experience – of becoming something, finding your voice, embracing your identity–these are terrifying and risky endeavors.
I’m not saying that church and Taylor Swift share an extensive amount of commonalities, but rather my point is to say that amongst any group of fans or followers of a particular faith: there seems to be a common thread of transcendence, loyalty, and becoming that brings them all together. During periods of upheaval and cultural shifts, communities of people can experience and reinforce generational division, but there are many opportunities for communities to create a beautiful tapestry of beliefs and perspectives that harken to the unifying hope that church community, at its best, stewards well. Perhaps the church can learn something from the honesty of Taylor Swift’s lyrics. To quote Taylor herself, when it comes to the church that we used to know, “everything has changed.”
Eras: No Longer Emerging but not Quite an Adult (Part 2)
What can the church learn from the success of Taylor Swift's Eras tour? Read more in Part 2 of a 3-Part Series.
Created for Community (Part 1): How We Moved Away From our Village
Humans thrive within community, but our modern age encourages poor relational habits. Think about the nature of your relationships with the help of the practice in this post.
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