Home Christian News Taylor Swift-Themed Services Attract Young People to German Church

Taylor Swift-Themed Services Attract Young People to German Church

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Taylor Swift in the music video for her song, "Anti-Hero." Screengrab from YouTube / @TaylorSwift

In a historic German city, a historic church initially “built for Gregorian liturgical music” was filled with more modern sounds last Sunday. At Heidelberg’s 600-year-old Church of the Holy Spirit on May 12, more than 1,200 worshipers attended two events billed as “Anti-Hero: Taylor Swift Church Service.”

The U.S. pop star, currently on tour in Europe, wasn’t in the building. But a singer and band performed six of Swift’s hits, and pastors quoted other lyrics in the liturgy and message.

RELATED: ‘Lyrics Matter’—Evangelist Shane Pruitt Sounds the Alarm on Taylor Swift’s New Album

The worship services, which skewed younger and more female than usual, were filled with emotion, dancing, and applause. Behind the band, a rainbow-colored banner welcomed an inclusive list of people to the church, which was built starting in 1398.

Taylor Swift Church Service Encourages ‘Encounter and Exchange’

The Church of the Holy Spirit, which attracts millions of tourists every year, launched a “City Church Rock ’n’ Pop” worship series in 2015. Faced with plummeting church-attendance rates in Germany, Pastor Christof Ellsiepen said faith leaders are “giving space to the questions and issues that occupy the younger generations.”

Next month, the Church of the Holy Spirit is hosting a street dance service and a “Church Battle” dance competition.

Swift’s lyrical expression of Christian beliefs makes her music a good fit for the historic church, according to Pastor Ellsiepen. It “has always been a place of encounter and exchange,” he said, so “a pop-music religious service fits so perfectly.”

Regarding Christian themes in Swift’s songs, Pastor Vincenzo Petracca pointed to racism, gender equality, women’s rights, and the hypocritical prioritization of dogma. Although Petracca said those beliefs cause conservatives to label the singer “anti-Christian,” he appreciates that Swift’s faith “knows doubt and inner conflict.”

“Theologically speaking,” added Petracca, Swift “points to the justness of God. For her, faith and action are inseparable.” The emotional worship service moved the pastor, who described staring into “beaming faces.”

During the performance of “Soon You’ll Get Better”—about the cancer battle of Swift’s mom—Petracca noticed tear-filled eyes in the pews. Then sadness turned to joy and dancing with the upbeat closing number, “Shake It Off!”

Are Taylor Swift’s Lyrics and Shows Anti-Christian?

Taylor Swift, 34, is a self-described Christian who has said believers shouldn’t tolerate any kind of inequality or oppression. Church leaders who’ve referenced her as an example of how to attract enthusiastic attendees have come under fire.

RELATED: ‘Tuesdays With Taylor’ Student Bible Study Connects Taylor Swift Lyrics With Scripture Verses

As ChurchLeaders has reported, Swift’s recent songs and performances have alarmed some Christians, who call her music and messages dangerous.