The church, it ways and leadership have come under public and media scrutiny after a the streaming service Discovery+ released a three-part documentary, “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.” about it on TV…
Just a few years ago, Hillsong was the leading edge of cool Christianity, a quickly expanding network that appealed to young people and city dwellers with energetic, stylish preachers and an upbeat atmosphere. Hillsong translated the charismatic church experience, which emphasizes miracles and personal encounters with the Holy Spirit, for a hip, upscale audience.
Justin Bieber and the N.B.A. star Kevin Durant attended services; one of the church’s worship bands won a Grammy Award and the church produced soaring anthems that became staples in smaller churches that imitated its sounds, style, and Instagram-friendly aesthetic.
Now, Hillsong’s U.S. presence is in collapse. Its remaining U.S. locations are in the Northeast and in California, meaning Hillsong no longer has a major presence between the coasts.
The departures are partly the fallout from a series of crises — most recently the sudden resignation of its charismatic founder — that have left the church with a tarnished reputation and instability that pastors say they found increasingly difficult to endure.
“I can’t think of a church in the English-speaking Western world with as broad a global reach as Hillsong,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center in Illinois. The current upheaval at the church “is a very big deal and will have ramifications not just for Hillsong, but for contemporary evangelism around the world,” he said….
On Thursday, a day after Mr. Houston’s resignation, the streaming service Discovery+ released a three-part documentary, “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.” The documentary depicts the megachurch as a toxic institution obsessed with image, control and growth at all costs. It features interviews with critics, former employees and members, and a woman who has said she had a monthslong affair with Carl Lentz, at the time the celebrity lead pastor of Hillsong’s East Coast branches. The press office for the church said in an emailed statement that the documentary’s portrait of Hillsong is “almost unrecognizable” to the church community….
image…Credit…Alyssa Pointer for The New York Times