Ever since Rapper Kanye West started producing his Sunday Service, he’s faced criticism from both Christians and non-Christians alike.
As I wrote last week, Christians have questioned whether West’s conversion is real, given that he’s dabbled in Christianity before, but then continued to produce raunchy albums and heretically likened himself to God. Christians also criticized West’s unorthodox gatherings called Sunday Service, saying they can’t classify as church, given that Sunday Service is more like a gospel concert, lacking any preaching or reading of the Word.
Non-Christians generally responded positively to Sunday Service. Yet when West started promoting his new “Christian” album and merchandise, many speculated that West’s newfound Christianity was just a gimmick to make money.
But recently, West’s Sunday Services have added preaching and a new voice—Adam Tyson, pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Newhall, California. Tyson first made an appearance at West’s sold-out show in Detroit on September 27. And now it seems the young graduate of The Master’s Seminary is becoming a regular feature, and this past Saturday preached to 7,000 people at a Sunday Service in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tyson says West’s conversion is real. And on Friday, Billy Hallowell released a fascinating interview with Tyson on his PUREFLIX Podcast. In it, Tyson talks about how he met West, West’s conversion, and how God is using Sunday Service to reach the lost. It’s a great listen. But if you’re short on time, you can read the transcript below.
I believe with Tyson that God is at work in what’s happening with West and I am really encouraged by this interview. Yet I’m also concerned. West’s faith is so new, and Tyson is so young, and the pressures and temptations on these two is so great. So let’s be praying for these young men. May God protect them and guide them, and use everything for His glory.
Listen to Tyson’s Interview on THE PUREFLIX Podcast:
Transcript of THE PUREFLIX Podcast:
Note: This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.
BILLY HALLOWELL: Welcome to the Pure Flix podcast. This is Billy Hallowell. And we have got a packed show for you today. I want to jump right in. We have an interview with Adam Tyson. He is the pastor who has been popping up at all of these Kanye West events, these Sunday Service events that are happening all over the country. Adam is a preacher out in California who met up with Kanye not too long ago, actually, there’s a pretty incredible story there we’re going to talk about. But they met up, they formed a relationship. And he’s been ministering to Kanye West. And we’ve seen a lot of headlines about that. But now Adam is going to take us behind the scenes. So, with no further ado, let’s welcome Adam to the show today. Hey, Adam, how’s it going today?
ADAM TYSON: Hey man, I’m doing great.
BILLY HALLOWELL: So, I’m excited to chat with you. I have been following the work you’ve been doing. And you’ve been you’ve been bouncing around the country traveling with Kanye West and participating in these Sunday Service events that he’s been having all over the country. And I think a lot of people have a lot of questions about these events, There’s a lot of intrigue. A lot of people are praying. They’re sort of excited to see somebody who has that big of a name coming out and talking about Jesus. But your story, I want to start with your story. And I guess we could start by talking about how you and Kanye connected, Like, how did how did that happen?
ADAM TYSON: Sure, Billy, it is an amazing story. You know, only God could do something like what’s going on right now. But basically, I’m a pastor in the Los Angeles area and have a small church about three- or four-hundred people. And we have some folks in our church who work in the industry. And this one guy was telling me that he works a little bit with Kanye doing different things and that he was going to invite them to church. So, we all were like, “Yeah man, totally, you should invite them to church.” So, he did. And he came.
And the first Sunday he came, it was like, “Oh, my goodness, like Kanye West is in the building.” And I didn’t even realize he was there. I was just preaching away. He kind of came in and slipped out. And people came up to me afterwards and said, “Hey, did you know who was here this morning?” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s super cool. I’m glad he came.” You know, I guess I guess that’s that, you know, he came one time and never see him again. But that’s okay. Because I hope that he heard the gospel, you know. So, he comes again, the second week, same thing. Then he skipped a week. And then he came the third week. And after the third week, he hung out the back of the church and when I was done preaching, he was like, “Hey, Pastor, Can I talk to you?” And we had like a 15-minute conversation where he was so excited to share with me what God was teaching him, how Christ had changed him, and wanted to talk more about it.
BILLY HALLOWELL: And so that was kind of the beginning of that friendship, right, which is obviously. How long ago was that? When did he come to your church?
ADAM TYSON: The first time he came to the church was like mid-May. The first time we had that conversation, I believe, was the first Sunday of June.
BILLY HALLOWELL: So, this is like four or five months ago now that this relationship started. And then, so you ended up coming in. And I think one of the reasons a lot of people have heard your name recently—seen you in headlines—is because during these Sunday Service events, when Kanye pops up at a church or wherever he is, you come out and you present the gospel. You give a 12 minute sermon—it’s usually around that I believe, 12 minutes—and those sermons have really been moving to people. And people have been shocked to see this pastor standing there delivering this in the middle of this event. So How did it come to be that you ended up kind of joining with him? And I know you have your church out in California, but you’re bouncing around and traveling too. How did that part of the story come to be?
ADAM TYSON: Oh, that’s just, that’s just a beautiful part of what God does. I mean, basically, when Kanye said, “I want to get together and talk,” I told him I’d be more than happy to. So, he started meeting with me in my office. We talked the first time about three hours. And I spent about three hours just going through the gospel, make sure he understood clearly about the atonement of Jesus Christ, that God is holy, that we are sinners, that Christ came to die in the place of sinners, that by repenting and believing in Him, we could have eternal life. And he’s like, “Hey, man, I told you I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message, and I want to get that message out to the world.”
“And he’s like, ‘Hey, man, I told you I’ve been radically saved. I believe that message, and I want to get that message out to the world.'”
BILLY HALLOWELL: So, you go, are you going every Tuesday to Cody,
ADAM TYSON: Just for the last month, I have.
BILLY HALLOWELL: Wow.
ADAM TYSON: We just felt like it was still early in his growth and development. And he’s so excited about studying the Bible. How can you say no?
BILLY HALLOWELL: Yeah.
ADAM TYSON: If my unbelieving next-door neighbor said, “Would you like to teach a Bible study on Tuesday nights for me and a bunch of my friends,” I would be elated. But my next-door neighbor isn’t necessarily asking that. But Kanye is. The guy’s asking, “Can you come teach the Bible?” I’m a pastor. That’s like saying “sic ’em” to a dog. What am I supposed to do? Of course, I’m going to come teach the Bible to you and whoever’s hungry to hear.
“The guy’s asking, ‘Can you come teach the Bible?’ I’m a pastor. That’s like saying ‘sic ’em’ to a dog. What am I supposed to do?”
BILLY HALLOWELL: Well, and there’s another factor here. You’ve got somebody who has a huge platform. And somebody who I mean, for years, Kanye West has talked—these themes have emerged, right? Whether it was the music or the things he’s talked about, or I believe I remember even years ago, him talking about his mother’s faith, right? These themes coming out. And I don’t know if you want to answer this, but I’m curious. You know, when was it that Kanye really devoted himself to the faith, accepted Christ, had that moment? Was it something that happened a long time ago? Was it a newer development? I was just curious about that piece.
ADAM TYSON: No, it’s newer. He would say that he knew about the things of God, and that his dad also was a Christian counselor. And he knew about it, and said he was running from God. And back, earlier this year, the first time I talked to him, let’s see was that first Sunday of June, on that day, he told me “I got radically saved five weeks ago.”
BILLY HALLOWELL: Wow.
ADAM TYSON: “Kanye, what happened five weeks ago?” He’s like, “I was just under the weight of my sin. And I was being convicted that I was running from God. And I knew I needed to make things right. So, I came to Christ. I came out of darkness into the light.” And that’s where I said, “Hey, let’s talk more about that.” So, when we met for that first meeting for three hours is where we just kind of really talked about, what does it mean to be a Christian? What is the gospel? And I just opened the Bible, and we worked through it all. And he was like, “Amen. I believe every verse, everything that you said, is what I believe.”
BILLY HALLOWELL: What would you say to those, because there are people out there who are skeptical, right? Because there are always going to be. And there are people outside of the Christian world, inside the Christian world who would say, “Okay, well, is this legitimate? Is it real? What is this Sunday Service thing?” What would you say to those who are skeptical of everything that’s happening right now, with the Sunday Service and Kanye?
ADAM TYSON: I would say that we need to be faithful to encourage one another. And if there’s going to be a person, that’s gonna say, “I love Jesus. I love Jesus, I’ve repented of my sins, I want to follow Him. Help me grow.” Then that’s beautiful. So now we’re in discipleship. So why would I continue to say to someone like that, “Well, I’m just not sure.” The only reason I would say I’m not sure if somebody was not professing Christ or showing fruit. So, this guy, professes Christ boldly, unashamed of the gospel, wants to talk about Jesus and I’m seeing a lot of fruit in his life. And the fruit that I’m seeing is that he’s no longer continuing in some of the sin patterns that he was before he came to Christ. Right now, every day he is living and walking with God. So, from what I could tell, there’s no reason for me not to encourage that and be a part of that.
BILLY HALLOWELL: What are you–and I understand that too, and I think one of the things is people love to critique, they love to say, “Oh, well, you know, it’s good to be smart about things.” And it sounds like that’s what you’re doing, it’s good to be smart about these things, but it’s another thing that when you’re actually seeing fruit, you know, we should be praying for people. I think human nature are our first thing that we like to do–and I think maybe it’s the nature to of social media, and where we are–is to critique and to go after people and to say, “What about this, this and that?” But when you have somebody who’s legitimately seeking, and they’re, and they’ve had this experience, and they’re trying to live the right way, we should be praying for those people, especially somebody who has a massive platform. And they’re, and they’re impacting people, right?
ADAM TYSON: Absolutely. And to be honest with you, if I wasn’t on the inside of it, I might be a little skeptical myself. So, shame on me for being that way. I do think we need to be cautious. But I’ve spent enough hours with this man to know that God is at work. And so, I told him many times, “As long as you’re professing Christ and wanting to live for Him, I’m here to help you. My goal is to help you to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God.” And just to show some of the fruit that I see in his life, he’s in the Bible, he’s in prayer. When we’re hanging out in the studio, working on the Jesus is King album, or at Bible study, there’s various people coming in and out. If somebody cusses in his presence, I’ve heard him say a couple of times, “Hey, man, you can’t cuss when you’re with me. I’m a born-again Christian.” Who’s gonna say that if they’re not meaning that they want Christ to be exalted in all that they do?
“I do think we need to be cautious. But I’ve spent enough hours with this man to know that God is at work. And so, I told him many times, ‘As long as you’re professing Christ and wanting to live for Him, I’m here to help you.'”
BILLY HALLOWELL: And there’s been a lot of discussion too about him leaving secular music, going into gospel music and all of that. And I won’t ask you about that, because I don’t think it’s fair to ask somebody else about whether or not those things are true. But it does seem like elements of that are true. But let me ask you this, because this is–
ADAM TYSON: Billy. Billy, those things are true. He wants to just sing Christian music. I asked him what does he want to do? He’s like, “I want to take all of my time, all of my talent, all of my resources to sing for God.” So, we’ve talked specifically about secular music, versus Christian music. And he’s like, “From now on, all I want to do is serve Christ. I want every song that I sang, to have part of my testimony, to include the gospel, and to include the element of worship to our great God. That’s what I want to do.” And I’m like, “Great, I could get behind that. Let me help you with that. Whatever you need. I’m here to help.”
So, he wants me to listen to different lyrics, different songs and help tweak parts of it. Where I’ll hear a song in the studio, and I’m like, “Hey, man, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say right here. This to me is a little fuzzy. What are you trying to say?” And he’ll tell me what he’s trying to say. And I’ll be like, “You know, well, I don’t understand it. Maybe you could say a little differently or be careful here.” You know, it’s not like I’m writing the song. It’s all of his work. He’s the complete creator, creative kind of guy. He’s the musician. I’m just making comments the way I see it. And then how to articulate the gospel more clearly. And yeah, how to include the component of worship, which that was his idea.
BILLY HALLOWELL: Wow. Well, I appreciate you speaking on that, too. Because I, you know, I don’t like to ask things that, you know, it’s like, you want to put somebody in a position of saying, “Hey, confirm something.” But it is amazing to hear that part of that of that process that is going on. What would you say you have seen come out of these events? These Sunday Services are happening. You are there. You’re delivering a sermon. What is happening at these events? Are you seeing fruit come out of it? I’m just curious about that.
ADAM TYSON: So, well, the way that came about was basically last, I hadn’t been to a Sunday Service. And then when we were together at that Cody Bible study that week before Detroit, he’s like, “Adam, I want you to preach in Detroit this weekend.” I said, “Hey, bro, I don’t know if you want me to preach.” He’s like, “Yeah, I do.” And I said, “Hey, if I preach, I’m going to preach the gospel. And I don’t know if everybody’s gonna like that. It’s gonna change the way that Sunday Service feels. It’s going to be, now it’s going to be a crusade.” And He’s like, “That’s exactly what I want.”
“Hey, if I preach, I’m going to preach the gospel. And I don’t know if everybody’s gonna like that . . . And He’s like, ‘That’s exactly what I want.'”
And so, after that particular message, most of the people that I talked to just came up and said, “That message was for me.” I was on the street in Harlem. Shortly after that message, we ate dinner, we’re about to go to the listening party in Harlem. And there are people coming up off the streets and said, “Pastor, I heard your message on forgiveness this morning, Can I talk to you about it?” And I’m like, “Hey, man, I’m happy to talk to you about it. What’s God doing in your life?” And people just started confessing sin and saying, “I now understand that if I don’t get right with God, through repentance and faith in Him, I cannot forgive my neighbor.” And they were like, “I just hadn’t quite seen it before. Thank you so much for preaching God’s word.” And so, it’s just been amazing, positive, encouraging God-exalting responses
BILLY HALLOWELL: And you initially, to talk a little bit more about your story here. You, is it true that you had gone into medicine? Were you going to do something else before becoming a pastor?
ADAM TYSON: So, I used to be a physician’s assistant. So, I worked as a PA, a physician’s assistant. Cardiovascular Thoracic surgery, Savannah, Georgia for about three or four years before I went to seminary.
BILLY HALLOWELL: What made you make that I mean, that’s a huge switch, you work hard to get to that place, right? And you obviously could have done that job forever. But what made you say, “Okay, I’m going to go into ministry now?”
ADAM TYSON: You know, I was just serving in my local church, teaching Sunday school to 11th and 12th graders. Started having invitations to speak at youth camps and college retreats. And then my pastor asked me to preach on a Sunday night. And then he asked me to preach on a Sunday morning. And then I started realizing like, “Man, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I need to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God, myself.” And then I just started having this passion to know God, and to help others know him.
And I used to sit in my office as a PA thinking like, “Man, what am I doing? I might be helping people live longer, but they’re just going to sin more. I want to help people live forever, where they never sin again.” And that’s a quote actually by Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, great pastor, preacher, expositor from last century in England. But man, when I just meditate on that I’m like, yeah, I think I need to change professions. I think God has given me a greater desire to preach and shepherd people in the Gospel and in the ways of God’s word than to do the physical health, which is, which is awesome. I love Christian doctors and Christian lawyers, and teachers, and firemen and policemen or whatever. Do whatever you do to the glory of God. But for me, it just started becoming clear change where God was calling me into the ministry full time.
BILLY HALLOWELL: Wow. That’s incredible. And now and now, you know, here you are doing this. What do you think—and this is the last thing I’ll ask you, because you give me a lot of time here. I know you’re busy—what is next for you and Kanye and these Sunday Services?
ADAM TYSON: Hey, man, we’re just taking it one week at a time. He wanted my input on what Sunday Service will be in the future. I shared with him some thoughts about what we’re doing and how to continue. And we’re just dialoguing about it, praying for God’s wisdom and looking to do this. He’s committed to do Sunday Service every weekend. So, you know, it’s an interesting thing. It’s a social phenomenon. And he’s like, “Hey, we’re going to pick a spot for this weekend. I want you to come back and preach again.” So, this weekend will be somewhere. And I’m planning to preach on, John 3:16. And just bring it right down the middle, about what knowing Christ and serving Him is all about.
BILLY HALLOWELL: Well, listen, Adam, I really appreciate you coming on the show today. We got to have you back again.
ADAM TYSON: You got it man. So great to talk to you, Billy. Appreciate your love for Christ and your desire to get the word out.