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  1061: Hillsong, Dominion Theatre, London

Read this report | Other comments

13 June 2006

I read with interest your Mystery Worshipper's report on Hillsong, London. I live in Melbourne and have been to Hillsong, Sydney, a number of times, including as delegate to one of the Hillsong Conferences (as part of a church group). Your Mystery Worshipper's report mirrors my exact responses to the Hillsong services I have attended. On each occasion, I have gone prayerfully, asking God to speak to me and to keep my heart free from prejudice. Yet every time I have found myself seriously disturbed by the precise issues identified in your report.

Previous commentators have thought your Mystery Worshipper biased. Some challenge the process as judgemental. But we are called to be "wise as serpents, innocent as doves". A balanced assessment such as this report is vital if we are to steer each other away from false teachers. It can be difficult to hear criticism of something you love or value. I hope your readers will weigh the observations of the report prayerfully.

I find myself torn. On the one hand, I have loved much of the music that has been produced by Hillsong over the years and have appreciated its contribution to worship in my own church. I have also appreciated the excellence with which everything is done by Hillsong. On the other hand, there are some serious theological flaws in Brian Houston's teaching. The success theology is seductive, but it is a perversion of the gospel of Christ, who had nowhere to lay his head. While the sense of anticipation and excitement is alluring, the emphasis of services and sermons is decidedly on church and not on God.

In one sermon Brian Houston preached, he equated the glory of God with the fame of Hillsong (and other churches). He highlighted positive coverage the church had received in secular media in Australia and the US. The trouble is, there has now been negative coverage in the Australian media. Has the glory of God been dimmed?

I appreciate that people going to Hillsong have experienced positive growth in their spirituality. Praise God. I just hope that in the medium to long term the revolving door effect in Hillsong, London, is less marked than here in Australia and that the fruit of the Spirit are more and more in evidence in the leadership. Ultimately, it is this, and not the success business model, by which we shall know them.

Grace to you

Gráinne O'Donovan

11 June 2006

Having read the original report and comments on Hillsong, London, I felt I had to add my two cents. Several of my friends went to a service at this church a week ago and came back saying they had a problem with the message they heard. They had exactly the same problem with the church as the Mystery Worshipper, and I mean exactly!

They said they were told, basically, that if you were not overly blessed by God, in a wealth kind of way, your relationship with God wasn't right. This rather shocked them, as it doesn't have a basis in the Bible that we could find. This is a concern for us. It's great that Hillsong has so many people attending, but if what they're being taught isn't biblical, doesn't that require action? I mean, yes, one of the comments made below mentioned how many people come to Christ at Hillsong. But if these people are painted a picture of a rosy life with no trials, tribulation, financial hardship, or even persecution, will they remain Christians when these things happen? As I'm sure you're aware, there are many biblical references to suffering, trials and the sacrifices we have to make to follow Christ.

Another person on this page made the point that this was a judgment on God's church. Pull the other one, it's got bells on! This is an issue where every single church has to be accountable! If the teaching is not biblical (and I think the vast majority will agree that this is the case) they have to do something about it. Well done, the Mystery Worshipper, for calling them on it. Sorry if I haven't put this very eloquently, but I think I've made my point.


6 October 2005

I just read the review that this "Mystery Worshipper" gave on Hillsong London. I go to a small church on the Isle of Dogs and so on the odd occasion that I go to the Hillsong London church it is obviously a very different experience.

I was at the same meeting that is being spoken about and I am quite concerned for a number of reasons about what I read in the review. Firstly and ultimately, there seems to be a case of judgment on God's church, which is more dangerous than anything of the appearance, structure and content of the meeting in a church where God is blatantly moving and many people are giving their lives over to Jesus on a regular basis.

This view is damaging not only to Hillsong church, its members and the people that it reaches out to, but also the church as a whole. As Christians we seem intent to destroy church by building barriers between ourselves and other congregations. Non-believers are probably more turned off Jesus by the fact that we refuse to encourage one another in our faith and that we are so determined to say why a certain church is wrong or not to our particular liking.

The writer of the review is obviously writing having only being at the church on a one-off occasion and the meeting is obviously a lot different to what the writer is used to. However, as I mentioned earlier, Hillsong London is a completely different style to what my own particular chuch meetings are like, but having been a few times to Hillsong over the past couple of years, I know that I worship the same God as they do and that I am encouraged by the amount of people that are there worshipping with all they have. God created music, so why shouldn't he have the best music? The writer comments that the building was "packed to the rafters, standing room only". Brilliant! I hope that we have more churches like that as soon as possible and that people start talking about the fact that there are queues of people trying to get into church!

I personally get so excited about the prospect of worshipping the God that I love so much, I don't need anyone to welcome me to church first, I am happy to give God my first words as we meet as a church as I am sure those at Hillsong are. Those who are in the meeting know they are at church, so why the need for an introduction to who God is? Let's just get on with it. When I get to heaven, I ain't gonna mess about waiting for God to say, "Welcome to heaven, Tim, shall we have a little chat?" I am gonna run into His arms telling Him how much I love Him which is pretty much what worship is.

Too often we go to a church meeting trying to see what we can benefit from it. We need to go with the attitude that we are in the presence of our creator with a bunch of people who believe the same as we do. How can we bless God? How can we give Him the glory with our being, with our attitude toward Him and to others?

No church is perfect because we are human, to persecute the church as our friend is quite frightening. The fact that the thing the writer will remember most about that church meeting is the fact that they were able to write the review that they have to me is sad. Brian Houston was not talking about prosperity, he was talking about living out the dreams and the calling that God has given us. To make the most of our current situations (using what is in our hands at this time) seeing them as a time where God is preparing us for what is to come.

What Brian was saying was to show how we align the calling in our hands to the calling in our hearts. Believing that the journey we are on includes where we are at right now and to use those situations to lead us closer to the dreams/calling that God has placed in our hearts. The writer of the review writes that Brian was saying "that we should abandon the calling that is in our heads and follow the purpose that is in our hearts". To me following the calling that God has placed on my heart rather than the ideas that I have thought up in my head makes sense! So I see nothing wrong with that.

I know that every week, Hillsong church makes a big thing about praying for those people in our own world who don't know Jesus as their Saviour and as a congregation we would pray for those people in our lives who we want to see saved. I don't think that is very inward looking or ignoring those outside Hillsong. The writer said, "No prayers were said for the world, or for people outside Hillsong." Wrong, I'm afraid! Hillsong are also very committed to a charity called Compassion which support kids in the Third World. As a church they support this work massively and I personally started to give regularly to the charity as a response to seeing the amazing work that they are doing in Africa.

It's fair enough that the writer doesn't feel that this could be their home church. I know that God has called me to be a part of the church that I am part of. But that doesn't mean that the Hillsong London is wrong or not Christ focused. Im personally sick of the fact that everything that is successful nowadays is not Christ focused. Music, theatre, films, fashion, sport, etc... the list goes on. I love Hillsong church firstly and mainly because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, but also because they are in a position where they can be a blessing to so many people by using media, great music, good lifestyles and by showing the joy that Jesus has brought to their lives.

I also pray continually for Hillsong church and everyone that goes there because I know that you are being dangerous in the Kingdom, for God's purposes. Thank you for the encouragement you are to me. I also thank God for the writer of this review and pray that you will join with me in supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world.



23 May 2005

The report on Hillsong, London was not subjective or informative. The worshipper was all self-agenda (graphics heaven, attractive host girls).

My daughter attends Hillsong and watching her loving her God with her heart and soul, and the actions she follows with planting herself at Hillsong, and seeing her understanding and relationship grow with God is amazing. My husband and I wanted to see her planted in our church, however she has found the right church for her.

The misinformation on tithing by the Mystery Worshipper is astounding. Hillsong don't hold a gun to anyone's heads to make a decision. I think we have all been blessed with brains to know when something is being forced: we made the decision to live the life of Christianity, we decide to give or not give money to help support our churches. I have been with my daughter and heard the message at Hillsong that if you give to the collection with a resentful and unjoyful heart, its not worthing giving at all.

Mystery Worshippers should be looking at bridging the gaps between all churches and as Christians we should be loving our God with one mind and one heart.

Next time, give a fairer report.

13 May 2005

I just thought I should correct the view that people who have nothing would not feel welcome at the Hillsong event/services. I fully appreciate the reaction expressed in your report on it, where you say you objected to their idea that worldly success indicated that God was with you (and, presumably, that he wasn't if you weren't successful), and I also think that this is a travesty of what Christianity is really about.

However, Hillsong is the one church where a young asylum seeker (who I work with occasionally) feels welcome, and they have given her a great deal of help and support. She is presumably also unable to give them money. Whatever they may lack as a church, I think they perhaps replace with community spirit that young people can really feel part of. That is sadly lacking in a great many more traditional churches, although they may be more true to the Christian message in what they preach.

M. Portal
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