On the same day British singer Adele picked up six Grammys, a church in New Jersey started a "Pop God" sermon series by singing one of her songs during Sunday morning worship.
Lead Pastor Tim Lucas of Liquid Church said it was fun to kick things off with Adele because her song "Rolling in the Deep" ended up winning a Grammy. "The church is talking about the same things the culture is talking about," he told The Christian Post.
Liquid Church, one of the fastest growing megachurches in the state, is using the new series to highlight themes from the biblical book of Hosea.
The book of Hosea isn't always a popular book for pastors to focus on, especially because it's "about a prophet told to marry a prostitute," Lucas said. But as he was studying the story and the emotion associated with God's relationship with his people, he felt like it matched the "heartbroken torture" of the Adele song.
Still, presenting pop songs during a worship service had church leaders nervous as to how the congregation would react. Lucas told CP that even though some people were surprised, many applauded, and no one walked out. "They were willing to see, 'What's the connection here?'"
As the worship team was performing the song, clips from the "Rolling in the Deep" music video were put on the screen and audience members began to clap to the beat of the song.
Integrating songs like Adele's, or popular icons from the culture, is a much debated topic within the church. Lucas said there are two ways it can be done – a church can reject the dominant culture by keeping their distance from it, or they can redeem it.
He said that by looking at the Adele song, Liquid Church was able to get into the content and message behind the music. "Adele's songs are deeply personal. There is pain people can relate to – a divorce, a break up." Lucas said that during these times people are asking, "Where is God? Where do you go with your pain?"
By highlighting these famous songs, the church can show people who they can go to when they are hurting. The church is trying to "live in that tension of the weight of theology, but making it accessible to wide variety of audiences as possible," Lucas reasoned.
Spokesperson Rich Birch echoed those thoughts and said that Liquid Church is reaching out to people who are looking for a type of spirituality that connects them to everyday life.
Using pop songs doesn't mean they are "anti-worship music. The reality of it is we've created a Christian subculture that is fairly disconnected to broader world." So the church wants to redeem the broader culture by connecting and engaging with it.
Liquid Church will continue its "Pop God" series next week with the Cee-Lo Green song "Forget You."
Lucas explained that the first chapter of Hosea is all about the pain of God being betrayed, but chapter two is when God says to Israel, "If you want to go your own way then forget you. I'm going to leave you to consequences of your betrayal."
"The prophets paint this vivid portrait of grief and anger" that God has in the Old Testament, and this song ties in well, the pastor said.
Songs by the Foo-Fighter and Bruno Mars will also be included in the series.