What I Really Think About Hillsong Church

hcI grew up in north-west Sydney.  When I was born my parents lived in Seven Hills.  They moved when I was a toddler to Baulkham Hills, and then before I moved away from home we lived in Castle Hill.  So as far as the Hills District of Sydney is concerned, I know it intimately.  For many years there I would travel along Windsor Road and notice the sign in the industrial area that said “Hills Christian Life Centre”.  For years I wondered what it referred to.  I had no idea that it was a local church.

Hills Christian Life Centre started in 1983.  Just a few years later they started a creative arts conference which they decided to call Hillsong.  The annual conference was such a runaway success that it became what the church was known for.  So eventually they changed the name of the church to Hillsong Church.

Whilst I have never been a part of that church I did do 2 years of bible college there between July 1992 and June 1994.  So I think it is fair to say that I know what they are on about pretty well, having sat in their premises and listened to their leadership lecture me most days for 2 years.

That was all a long time ago now.  I went to Hillsong conference most years throughout the 1990’s, but hardly at all during the 00’s.  My church still sang a lot of their music.  Of course they have continued to grow at an amazing rate.  I can’t believe that a church from the Hills District has become the biggest church in Australia!  They now have numerous campuses around the country that have a total weekend attendance of almost 20,000.  The Hills District headquarters I think gets about 10,000 of those.  Amazing!  But Castle Hill is a remarkable suburb – a genuine bible belt.

It doesn’t end there either – the churches they have planted in other cities around the planet would have far more attendees than the Australian ones.

Their size has meant that they get attention that other churches don’t.  Just last year one of the tabloid TV shows in Australia gave them a thorough going over which I’m sure was not welcome.

During 2011 my church, of which I was on the eldership, engaged in discussions with Hillsong about the possibility of becoming a campus of theirs.  In the end it did not eventuate but it was interesting to spend more time with some of their key people.

What people tend to notice about Hillsong is the slickness of their production, the excellence of their music and the fact that they appear to be tremendously well resourced.  All of which is true, as far as I can tell.  But what are they like as people?  Is the reality as impressive as the music?

One of my fellow elders completely hit the nail on the head when he described what we liked about them.  He said, “it’s not what they do, it’s who they are.” At the root of that church is people who genuinely serve, genuinely love and genuinely ooze Christian character.  They are very impressive to meet – not because they have a large facility, large conferences, etc.  They are impressive to meet because they make the time for people, they care about people and they want to bring Jesus to people who don’t know him.

In my opinion Hillsong Church is church that the devil is terrified of.  It is a church that has made an enormous impression on its local community, on the rest of the body of Christ in Australia and increasingly around the world.  Long may it continue.

John

One Comment to “What I Really Think About Hillsong Church”

  1. Appreciate your perspective because their music gets a lot of air time on our local Christian radio here in Ontario (Canada) and one always wonders. More love to them…
    Peace

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