the baby and the bathwater


I love hillsong
July 16, 2008, 6:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I love Hillsong

Well OK, maybe that’s going a little far. And certainly my affection for them is well behind my wife, my children, my family, my church, many of my friends, extra shot lattes.

Oh, and Jesus of course.

In fact, lets face it, Hillsong are probably only in the top 200 of things I love, maybe not even that.

But I’ve just started to listen to the latest hillsong dvd, and it’s awesome. I thought hillsong worship had begun to lose momentum in the last couple of years, but their latest cd ‘this is our god’ seems to recapture things.

Now I know you are probably wondering why someone as cynical about the whole worship industry as me is enthusiastic about Hillsong. Well let me explain. First and foremost is that they are being themselves. The only church that really should be doing Hillsong worship in the Hillsong way, is Hillsong. Over the years they have established their own identity in worship by having adventures, taking risks, and alongside it all, put a huge amount of money, effort, resources, and time into developing their worship. And they have pursued their calling in this despite huge critisism along the way (the level of which seems to be match only by the number of churches trying to copy them!)

And now, having pursued their own identity in worship, they are making a few quid out of it, which I suspect goes into building their church. Well I say “good on them”.

Now I know we can argue about their pentecostal theology. We could also debate about some elements of prosperity teaching. But as in many things in life, we have to see what God is doing through our own theological frameworks, and learn what we need to learn. And from hillsong I learn about passionate, heartfelt, authentic worship. I learn about worshippers who are unafraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

And unfortunately, I also learn that beards seem to be back in fashion in Australia.

The other thing that is hugely moving about this cd is that there is a song on it called ‘Healer’ by Mike Guglielmucci. The song was written by Mike the day he was diagnosed with serious cancer. The song is performed on the dvd by mike in the throws of his illness, having to use oxygen to get through it. It is hugely moving, and there is also a video section where he gives some of his testimony. On the DVD he stands in front of the many thousands of people gathered for the recording, with tubes in his nose, declaring that ‘by his stripes we are healed’. It an awesome song of faith from someone who is in the midst of extreme suffering.

This is a truly inspiring cd and dvd. listen to it, have your spirit lifted in worship through it.

Just don’t try and copy it.

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10 Comments so far
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Am just downloading it on iTunes. So far…loving it.

Comment by Andy

hey no fair!

the next one in my ‘Things I’m for’ series was going to be Hillsong…..

I greatly admire the degree of excellence they put into it… and from what i can tell they really do it all for “our God” and they clearly love to worship Him. They plough their own course which, as you say, is what every church should do

That said…. I’d rather pull my own ears out with pliers than listen to one of their records. All that fist pumping and yank accents and rock poses and straightened hair and coldplay rip offs- I just can’t handle it!

Comment by David Gate

I don’t want to knock mike and am not commenting on him. But for me a much more meaning full and maybe further reaching expression of worship from similar situations would be a song called ‘My God my god why have you forsaken me’.

I just think we all know and have been told that God is a healer and to have faith in the midst of healing, but maybe some people need to be told its okay and you can still worship and have a relationship with God and not have faith or feel like God is a healer. I mean if Jesus was aloud to say it to God maybe we are too, but not many worship songs give permission for that.
Maybe it just wouldn’t sell well enough

Comment by Anonymous

“its okay and you can still worship and have a relationship with God and not have faith”

hmmm – not sure i agree with that!

I watched the video and felt, well, not a lot really. It’s a nice piece….

….I wondered if he did any other songs at that conference – If he normally lead worship at Hillsong or if this was just a nice, moving piece for their DVD…. I wondered if the song could have been a lot better….. I wondered what God thought of the DVD…. I wondered if it was wrong of me to not care very much….. I wondered if I just have a dark, cruel heart to not feel anything really for this guy…. … and I remembered what Angela Duncan had said at our baptism service recently, and how that brought tears to the eyes.

Suppose you have to be there.

Comment by David Gate

I can sing songs in church and not have faith. I can experience the presence of God but not have faith. But to engage my heart in worship, however stumbling and frail, seems to require a degree of faith – faith that God is there and somehow hearing my songs.

I have watched so much on TV recently which heralds great healing with great fanfares, but with very little evidence (as your recent post points out Dave). I have (more significantly for me) seen some people in our own church receive a measure of healing and rejoiced in it.

But the people who are publicly few and far betweeen, but probably make up a far greater number, are those living with illness and uncertainty, yet holding onto faith and worshipping their socks off.

When this happens, it is a very beautiful thing.

Comment by Neil Bennetts

I guess it helps if you take my statement in its sentence that 9as bad as it may have been)
-you can still have a relationship with god without having ‘faith or feeling’ in his healing power or his healing of you

I don’t want to belittle that act of faith by this guy mike but there are probably just as many out there maybe even some of the same folk, who at some point or longer may have very little or no faith and where is our space for them in our community’s

the hurt and broken who can’t sing songs of faith for Gods healing but still want a place at our/Gods table

or who may not want to bottle up the feelings of disappointment or abandonment that are expressed throughout the bible and by Jesus himself
but so little in out modern teaching and worship song

Comment by Anonymous

I see what you are saying. And I know there is a wide body of opinion who share your sentiments.

The fact of the matter is that struggles with lack of faith, and issues of disappointment are part of life for us all. Any church will be made up of people who experience such things with varying degrees. The issue is ‘what does the gospel offer’. For me, the gospel offers hope. And the theme I see threading through the expressions of dispair in the scriptures if the theme of hope.

The psalmist surrounds his cries of despair with acknowledgment of hope, and resolutions to praise. And for me, this is what I want our worship to reflect. I want our church to be a place where anyone searching for God can come, however broken. But I want it to be a place of hope when they do come.

(Elsewhere on this blog I did a whole series on Lament – maybe check it out)

Comment by Neil Bennetts

I’m gonna have to dig out that section on lament, and I really do agree with what you say on the whole, and totally there has to be the resolution to hope as if anything the story Jesus shows that above all. Through Christ’s death and sufferings victory was won and the Resurrection is hope for us all of the final healing of all things made new in Christ. Yet in the midst of this suffering, the hope of Resurrection and Gods impending victory doesn’t diminish the reality and severity of Christ’s pain, so much so that he cries out to his father ‘why have you forsaken me’. I mean I don’t know whether Christ knew that resurrection was a certainty or not but we know in hindsight that obviously God hadn’t forsaken him in the long run as three day’s later he is alive and victorious.

And I just wonder whether our songs of Hope and Resurrection would be even the more powerful if it didn’t feel like there is a restriction on our expressions of pain and feeling forsaken by God. It feels like the unwritten rule of Anglo-Christendom is you know keep your chin up, big boys don’t cry and all that. How often do we give permission to feel really low when things are really going bad. Without the freedom to really express our bitterness or doubt, how can our resolutions to hope and belief have any real authenticity or power and not be just hollow religious motions. At worse how often do we heap guilt on top of people who aren’t in the place to declare hope or expect healing inadvertently?

And there probably are ways to do all this and not have to tangle with how it affects our corporate worship and I’ve often thought lament is all well in theory worship but a bit of bummer if your life is grand, you’ve got a nice house and no worries and really its gonna do your head in church to have to sing a song all about pain. But if we are truly the body of Christ then if one part is in pain and suffering then we all are, and yet equally if one part has been blessed and has joy then we all share in that.

Maybe by encouraging our brothers and sisters to share and co-express in each others lament we open the door for those who are suffering to lean on and share in/with the faith filled and the bold to declare our great hope in Christ

Comment by Matt Wilson

d’oh

Comment by David Gate

It’s just a shame it was fake!
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24216087-5006787,00.html

Comment by Anonymous




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