“17,000 Hillsong Fans Unite for Concert Filming Event in Los Angeles” said the headline on Alex Murashko’s article in today’s Christian Post.
According to Murashko, whose extravagant review borders on sycophancy, the event was; “the best I've ever witnessed. From the spectacular sound, lighting and staging, to the crowd participation – the experience was powerfully moving, and a time of corporate worship beyond words. Let's just say it was the largest and loudest ‘choir’ I've ever heard.”
The ‘concert’ attended by 17,000 ‘Hillsong fans’ was filmed by 12 cameras as part of a movie project which is intended to document the inexorable30 year rise of Hillsong to global prominence.
By any standard the Hillsong operation is impressive. It has churches in many major cities who appeal directly to the more ‘hip’ middle class millenials. Around 100,000 attend its weekly services and 10 million are Facebook followers. Most importantly, Hillsongs’ world-wide album sales are around the 16 million mark.
The feature film will be released in April 2015. Brian Houston the Hillsong senior pastor has said that: “the aim is to give people the world over the opportunity to experience the praise and worship that has been birthed in this House."
As a born again Christian, there’s a fine line between true Biblical worship and the ego driven ‘look at me’ excess of the corrupt, corporate, celebrity-driven Christian entertainment industry.
True worship as outlined throughout the Bible is much more than singing and music. It has been described as ‘an act of reverential deference’, where true worshippers have a real Biblical fear of the Lord and therefore humble themselves before His holy presence.
Worship is not about feelings. Sadly many Christians mistakenly equate fired up feelings with genuine worship where the higher hands are raised, the more peoples’ hearts must be inclined towards the Lord. They are deluded.
In the Old testament, the prophet Isaiah concluded that the worship which he observed was shallow and man-made: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men”.
Worship is what true believers do every moment of every day, not just at special worship services or on a Sunday or at Hillsong concerts.
Jesus’ meeting with the woman at the well, recorded in John’s Gospel describes worship from a different perspective: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”.
The writer to the Hebrews re-emphasises the 24/7 nature of true worship: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”.
In the 1990s I eagerly awaited the release of the next Hillsong album. Since then its growth has been exponential.
We should all pray that the Hillsong ‘brand’ will remain on the right God-honouring side of the thin line……….that’s where those who worship in spirit and truth are to be found.