This week, The Christian Post reported that Kanye West, always getting into something new, has been conducting what he’s calling “Sunday Services,” at his home. The services seem like religiously themed weekly concerts, where he appears to be performing gospel versions of old songs. These songs either already have a gospel vibe to them, or are reworked to fit the theme, and he invites others, like Kid Cudi, 070 Shake, and Tony Williams to perform alongside him. Oh, and there’s also a very large choir that wears Yeezy sweats instead of traditional robes while they sing under blue and red lighting, creating an atmosphere closer to that of a nightclub than the Baptist church I was raised in.
Songs on the Sunday Service set list include, “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Lift Yourself,” “Father Stretch My Hands,” and “I Wonder.”
Kanye’s Sunday Services have been referred to as a concert series inspired by church, an inspiration catalyst, and a church service by the media and Kim Kardashian West, and I must admit: I am confused. Is Kanye West starting a church, or is this some sort of concept album long-game that’s leading up to a release in the name of God and record sales?
The idea of Kanye starting a church is not so far-fetched, considering his mother-in-law Kristen Jenner is the co-owner of the California Community Church. She took the church under her wing in 2010, and it is still up and running (despite the KarJenner’s absence at services — they prefer Hillsong or Tony Robbins). The legitimacy of the church has been questioned in the past — some gossip sites have alleged that California Community is “nothing more than a Kardashian tax haven,” and have alluded to financial sketchiness and raised eyebrows at it’s $1,000-a-month membership fee.
For now, Kanye’s Sunday Services seem to be more a platform for remixes for the religious ear and less a place for him to proselytize, though he did appear to defend R. Kelly’s predatory ways in favor of his music during one session. (Kim told Andy Cohen that Kanye wasn’t referring to R. Kelly — “he never even said R. Kelly’s name.”) But I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on how it evolves.
Matthew 18:20 reads, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Which basically means that if you and your friends even bring God up in your small gathering or find a way to praise His name with one another, you’ve essentially stumbled your way into a church service. It only takes two to tango, and praise His name, okay! And Kanye may not even technically need any sort of permit to operate this sort of event out of his home. According to a “Useful Community Development” guide, “just because someone is having a home Bible study or other spiritual discussion, complete with singing, the law may not consider that a church.”
It’s not clear that beyond the gospel remixes, Kanye is praising Him, but if it walks like a church, quacks like a church, and co-owning churches is already a part of the family business, it very well may be a church. And, while I remain extremely skeptical about whether Kanye should qualify as anyone’s pastor, I’m not mad at him for bringing a little Christ to the ‘gram.