In Taiwan, celebrity ambassadors for this “fashion label” are bringing Christ into pop culture, living out the Cultural Mandate sown by Kong Hee.
Reaching out to the entertainment world has always been a dream of Taiwanese pastor Abraham Ku, but he never imagined that it would get this big just 10 years after his church, New Life Church in Taipei, embraced the Cultural Mandate message of City Harvest Church, Singapore.
From a flock of a few hundred a decade ago, Ku today pastors a congregation of over 2,000, and about 250 of his members are well-known actors, singers and songwriters in the entertainment industry. These celebrities are at the forefront of the “Jesus Fashion” movement which challenges believers, especially those in the entertainment, arts and media industries to not retreat from the world, but instead to bring the Gospel into mainstream culture and to effect positive change in its value system.
As their own lives are changed by the power of God, these celebrities are in turn empowered and impassioned to urge the fashion-conscious population of Taiwan to follow the right fashion—Jesus Fashion.
JESUS FASHION CULTURE CONCERT
The seeds were sowed back in 2009, when NLC started Rainbow Heaven, an association that uses popular culture to reach out to Taiwanese youngsters by organizing creative camps, producing albums for charity events and participating in various relief works. The success of Rainbow Heaven at engaging the youth and being relevant in society helped bridge the spiritual-secular divide among the young in Taiwan.
At the recent Jesus Fashion Culture Concert 2013 held over the weekend of Apr. 6 and 7, more than 9,000 decisions were made for Christ through four evangelistic concerts. The concerts were vibrant combinations of songs, dance, drama and a fashion show, featuring Taiwanese artists like Will Liu, Jane Huang, Lala Xu and Wilber Pan.
The concerts drew from the ministry of CHC’s co-founders Kong Hee and Sun Ho, who met Ku in 2002 as they were organizing evangelistic concerts in Taiwan, now known to the church as the Crossover Project. Inspired by their vision of the Cultural Mandate—redeeming the pillars of entertainment, media and the arts in society with Godly values and principles—Ku started the Jesus Fashion movement last year.
As they entertained the audience with their performances, each of the artistes also took turns sharing their testimonies. “Jesus Fashion is about letting Jesus come into our hearts, giving Him unlimited access to bring creativity and love into our lives, so that we can influence the world,” said Liu on stage.
Xu dedicated two love songs to Jesus, relating the emptiness she felt by giving away too much of her heart without receiving anything back. When she received Christ and started reading the Bible, she began to realize that as a child of God, she was rich.
Kong was the main speaker at all four evangelistic concerts. He shared that God wants His people to spread the Gospel using the world’s language, to connect with them. Jesus Himself is the best example—He did not look like the religious leaders of His time, but He walked among men to heal the sick and cast out demons.
“Put on Jesus daily,” he encouraged the congregation. “Be His spokesperson on the red carpet of life.” In the same way that an ambassador of a country needs to blend into the local culture in order to serve his or her own country, the children of God need to embrace popular culture in order to reach out to the world.
THIRD SPACE CHRISTIANITY
Kong also preached at the inaugural Church Growth Conference organized by NLC. Held from Apr. 3 to 7, the conference saw a total of 500 pastors and church workers from 65 churches gathering to discuss topics such as “Building a Multimedia Church,” “Winning the Schools for Christ” and “Popular Culture.”
Using Paul as an example, Kong shared that one needs to understand the culture of the world before they can preach to them. “Paul didn’t despise the pagan culture of Athens. It was not because he loves worldly things, but because he wants to change the world for Jesus.”
Kong also encouraged the members to step out of their world (the First Space) to not only become salt and light in their marketplace (the Second Space), but to go one step further and become an influence in the Third Space where the top movers and shakers in society and its decision makers are.
“Crossing over is not just bringing songs that we sing in church into the marketplace. It is about bringing the Christian culture of faith, hope and love into the world,” said Kong. He also encouraged the members to become people that are “in the world but not of the world.” Indeed, more are needed to reap the harvest field in schools and in mainstream media; Ku’s vision for the next 10 years is to see Jesus Fashion bringing this to pass.