God. Religion. Consumerism. Confession. Sin. Truth. Marriage. Money. If these were the words of a preacher, it would be no surprise. Ben Haggerty, commonly known as Macklemore, has made fame rapping, or should I say preaching, about topics which often are undiscussed in the genre of hip-hop. He writes words like, "The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing women that they looked better in makeup" and, "When I was at church they taught me something else, if you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed."
Macklemore is a preacher. He may not have the same agenda, the same source of truth, or even the same beliefs. But he is a preacher. He has set out to proclaim a message; he has set out to inspire people and start a movement. He wants to change culture. And I think preachers could learn a few things from the way he approaches his art.
1. People want to talk about spiritual things.
For Macklemore, spiritual topics are not off limits. He has no problem getting into spiritual discussions in interviews or in the lyrics of his songs; whether to proclaim what's wrong with religion or to point out what's wrong with society, spirituality is a frequent component of his music. People want to talk about the things that matter. Macklemore's album calls out the problems with commercialism and the dangers of money, he preaches about his beliefs about gay marriage, and he talks about his confession habits as he goes to the bar. These are all topics that preachers talk about…and people want to talk about it.
2. Put yourself in the seat of the listener.
"I put myself in the place of the listener when editing my writing. The last thing that I want to do is be preached at and told who to be or what to think when listening to an artist. However, I do want to be inspired. There's a fine line." - Macklemore from Interview Magazine
When Paul preaches the Gospel he understands the people that he is preaching to. The content of the message doesn't change, but the context of the message does. When he preaches to the Jews, he preaches in a way that resonates with a Jew. When he is preaching to a group of spiritual people who aren't familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, he quotes pagan prophets and poets to share the Gospel. In order to preach the scriptures faithfully, we must be committed to both the content of the Word and the context of the people.
*note: this video may have some explicit lyrics
3. Inspire people to something better.
In the song Wing$, Mackelmore boldly calls people to leave their lives of consumerism:
"It started out with what I wear to school That first day, like these are what make you cool And this pair, this would be my parachute So much more than just a pair of shoes Nah, this is what I am What I wore, this is the source of my youth This dream that they sold to you For a hundred dollars and some change Consumption is in the veins And now I see it's just another pair of shoes"
Macklemore preaches by pointing us to the reality of what consumerism does and tries to inspire us to live differently. This is not all that different than what happens on a Sunday morning - just what we do on Sundays tends to not be nearly as artistic or memorable. Macklemore points people to the reality of consumerism or whatever other issue he is rapping about. Preaching points people to the reality of their sin and the consequences of it (which could even be the sin of consumerism). Macklemore tries to inspire people to live differently. Preaching proclaims the Gospel, which sets people free and in turn inspires people to live differently.
What lessons have you learned about preaching recently?