Rick Warren is a megachurch pastor, international speaker, and best-selling author of the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history, The Purpose Driven Life. Outside of coordinating global peace efforts and Bible study curriculum for his 20,000+ member non-denominational Christian congregation in Southern California, he’s tracking popular trends and publicly declaring his affinity for South Korean artist Psy‘s K-pop song “Gangnam Style.” According to Twitter, “Gangnam Style” has been his ringtone since July 20:
This is big news, as “Gangnam Style,” a song by South Korean artist Psy, recently became the most-viewed YouTube video EVER, with over 826 million views as of this month (overtaking my man, J Biebs’, “Baby” video). The “Gangnam Style” dance is now a global phenomenon, with thousands buying, playing, and dancing to it on a weekly basis.
The fact that a popular evangelical pastor chose to publicly support a trend some more conservative individuals deem “idolatrous” and “unbiblical” intrigues me. “Pastor Rick” has an astonishing 794,000+ Twitter followers who interact with him on a regular basis – even though he claims in his Twitter bio that he “doesn’t wear socks.” Perhaps it’s these quirky statements that make him personable and popular – two things Jesus was (thousands attended his sermons on a regular basis).
Even though the song/dance has no Christian themes whatsoever, it’s engaging millions of viewers worldwide – and Rick Warren has entered the conversation. Which makes him and his ministry relevant to culture at large. Therefore, I think Warren’s public support of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is an example of effective cross-cultural communication (music & Christian ministry).
This is good news for his church’s mission statement, as one of “Pastor Rick’s” goals is global engagement and mobilization:
Pastor Warren and his wife Kay are passionate about global missions and what he calls “attacking the five global giants” of poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, and illiteracy. His solution – The Peace Plan – is a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack these five global giants of today by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation.
The bottom line? That even though “Gangnam Style” is an overtly secular song, Pastor Rick’s engagement with it is a kingdom win. I doubt we’ll start seeing people “gagnaming” around their church sanctuaries anytime soon, but then again, who knows what kind of dance David was doing before the Lord in 2 Samuel 6:14?