Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, known for his creative sermons that focus on contemporary issues, is kick-starting a new series that takes a look at some of America's biggest celebrities and how people relate to them.
Titled "What Would Jesus Say To…" celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lance Armstrong, Ellen Degeneres, LeBron James, Kim Kardashian and others, the five-part series, beginning the weekend of Jan. 5 and 6, will examine aspects of these celebrities' lives and analyze how people might even see a part of themselves in these figures.
"I'm not slamming any of these celebrities – this is not a 'slam these celebrities series,'" Pastor Young explained in a phone interview with The Christian Post.
"I am simply taking certain portions of their lives and I am talking about these things. I don't know any of these people personally – we think we know people just because we read about them in an article or in a tweet, but only God knows their heart."
The Texas pastor, who leads a church with over 20,000 members, is well-known for his colorful and creative sermon series, which are broadcast around the world on his official website. In Feb. 2012, Pastor Young hosted a "Sexperiment" series in which he and wife Lisa Young stayed 24-hours in a bed on the roof of Fellowship Church in the cold, discussing issues related to marriage and sexual health for a live video stream.
In April for Easter, he led a "Wild" sermon series that involved live animals such as lambs and lions to talk about Jesus. In June, Young warned society about "drinking culture's Cool-Aid" in a series that examined issues such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, bullying, and how to stand up to those taking advantage of others.
For his "What Would Jesus Say To…" sermons, Young told CP that this will be an in-depth series.
"One of the reasons why we are so engrossed by the icons of our culture is because we would say to ourselves 'I would never do that. I would never spend my money this way; I would never travel that way, I would never have friends or date people that way.' We say these things to feel better about ourselves. These celebrities happen to be on our culture stage – and they are a reflection of who we are," said Young.
The Fellowship Church pastor noted that some might suggest it is presumptuous to claim to know what Jesus would say to Kim Kardashian, Lebron James or Bill Maher, but he insisted that "if you look at the Gospel to see Jesus' interaction with people 2,000 years ago, it can be paralleled with the celebrities that we admire today."
Pastor Young shared that he had a good reason for choosing the specific celebrities that he will focus on during his first sermon series of the New Year.
"I tried to choose people that transcend culture in their influence – like (Miami Heat star player) LeBron James. He is arguably the most well known, most popular athlete in the world today. All you have to say is 'LeBron' and people know. He is from the world of athletics and people have known about him from a long time," the minister explained.
"Another one is (former cyclist) Lance Armstrong – who is iconic, but also there is the recent doping allegations and so many things being written about him," Young added. "Kim Kardashian – she is so popular and well known, her [relationship] with Kanye, her pregnancy and marriage – I tried to pick a balance of men and women, those who are culturally known for maybe their sex appeal, others who are known for their athletic prowess, others for their business success. I just tried to match up people to where I think our culture is."
From a biblical perspective, Young says that a celebrity culture has existed since Christ's time.
"There have always been people who were more popular or better known than others," he said. "The people who were well known were successful in business, or in the political or military slices of life. They had athletic competitions back in the day; they had beauty pageants, actors and acting. Maybe not to the degree we have now – due to technology, it is at a whole new level here."
The first part of the "What would Jesus Say To…" sermon series begins Saturday at 6 p.m. EST and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. EST, and will be available for live streaming on FellowshipLive.com.