Posts tagged ‘Hillsong’

April 29, 2013

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

November 14, 2012

Desert Song

One of the things that I have appreciated more and more as the years have gone by is that life has seasons.  The Christian life has seasons as well.  Even though it is 4 years old recently I have been listening to “The Desert Song”.  It’s a Hillsong tune which my church had on high rotation when it came out.  These are the lyrics of the 4 verses:

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And this is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow

I find myself being moved during the last verse about the harvest.  Intuitively I feel drawn to that verse at the moment.  It just seems that is the season I am in now – I am established in my career (I am in my fifth year as a barrister), my little girl is now at school and parenting is a whole lot easier than it was with a newborn or with a toddler.  But more than that I feel that I have reached a place in my walk with God where I have accumulated some wisdom, some understanding of what my gifts are, what my calling is, and where the Lord is heading me.

I can’t really put my finger on it with any precision, but right now I feel His favour.  I feel that I am being filled, and I know that the purpose of that filling is to be emptied again.  I know that a season of being emptied is coming and frankly I can’t wait.  Because that is what I was created to do.  Paul says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)  There is nothing to be gained from being filled and never being emptied.

It reminds me of the illustration of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.  Normally I am pretty sceptical about making analogies like this but I really think that this is a point that God wanted to make.  The Sea of Galilee is full of life.  In the bible Peter, Andrew, James and John made their living from fishing in this sea (although lake would be a better description).  The Sea of Galilee has an entry point where the Jordan River comes in, and an exit where the Jordan flows out.  Just 70 odd kilometres further south the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, but nothing flows out of the Dead Sea.  As the name suggests the Dead Sea is an ecological wasteland – the salt makes it completely inhospitable to fish.

The point is that when we are both receiving and giving out we are healthy.  But when we receive but don’t give there is no life at all.  I want to be healthy, and right now I’m being filled to be emptied again.  But without the emptying to come I will get sick and spiritually unwell.  I can receive, but only if I then give away what I have received.  The seasons of harvest are to enable us to be fruitful in service.  It’s amazing how just 8 words, “I know I’m filled to be emptied again” captures this so perfectly.

This is how the song ends, and I can’t find a more fitting way to finish:
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Go here to sing along.

John

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