This is Part 2 of my series of 3 articles. Please feel free to read my first article below:
Hillsong Insider (Part 1): “My exit out of a mega church… Never to return again”
In this article, I will be looking at how Hillsong asked Oslo Christian Center to join their godfather family in the spring of 2014.
THE HILLSONG TAKEOVER
I was actually not at church the Sunday it was announced to the whole church. One of my friends met me later the same evening and excitedly told me that the church had joined the family of Hillsong.
I thought I wasn’t hearing right! Never in a hundred years did I expect the church to join the “family of Hillsong”!
I thought it was good enough, more than enough, in fact, all sufficient to be a part of the family of God!!! Whatever did it mean to join the family of…
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Janet Sauve said:
I found your comments on mega church in general interestingly like my own, though it seemed till now that I was the only one with my views. Even in small churches today, I find such a cult of youth culture that I don’t fit. I live in Canada, but was raised in a culture which didn’t have this worship of youth. Our parents didn’t ask us on Saturday morning what we would like to do. We asked them what THEY were going to do because we would all be doing that, and it was boring often to steer their boat while THEY fished. We didn’t think to complain in those days. Even in small churches I found that all we thought about was kids, and I was always trying to be young enough to fit in. Finally I didn’t bother any more. In the entire New Testament, no one talks about his children, how they are home schooled and so on, though Greek education was advanced.
A church without friends and people who were part of my life didn’t make sense and I quit. As the Lord said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. We did kids instead of people, did their music and their preferences in church. We did programs instead of people, as though God would be impressed with the planned excellence. Like you, I found in small churches though as well as in mega churches that no one bothers to reply. They’re too busy working on the program or — children? The truth is that I found small fundamentalist churches just as impersonal. They perhaps think they should be focused on their purpose…working with souls, not people, it seems. If anyone in those churches phoned to be sociable that would be worldly? If they answered their mail, that wouldn’t save souls? I gave up!
When I was the one who was young, churches were where we made friends with all generations. Now we have to go to the golf club to find friends.
The Narrowing Path said:
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I am so sorry that this was your experience with church, and think that sadly it has become an all too common experience.
(I should first clarify that the author of this story is a Norwegian woman, and although I have reposted the article, I can’t claim it as my own experience!)
As you can probably tell from the content of The Narrowing Path, I have spent a lot of time researching what is going on in the visible church, and found that much of it is indeed very youth focused. In fact, much of the teaching does idolise youth, and some (like the NAR crowd) even teach things like God is raising up a ‘special generation’ or a ‘new breed of revivalists’. This results in a very pagan-like worship of youth, and promotes incredible narcissism in the younger generations, a reflection of what is happening in our wider cultures (Canada and Australia being not too different!). It also seems to be a clever business and marketing strategy. It aligns well with modern pagan culture, which exalts youth and denigrates ‘old’ beliefs and practices, so no wonder it is so successful! Busy parents get to bring their precious little ‘image-bearers’ to church to be entertained and made to feel ‘super-awesome’, while mummy and daddy get to drink lattes in the movie theatre-like church and learn 5 easy strategies for how they can be more organised, have a better marriage and be successful in business. This matches up nicely with the ‘personal development’ approach to spiritual enlightenment taught in schools and workplaces, and helps one avoid those uncomfortable feelings of guilt and shame over their sin. Meanwhile, their souls are perishing. This is not Christianity. Not even close.
Further to your comments on growing up, my own experience was that we went to church because our parents gave us no choice. For that I am very grateful! My parents were on the mission field for most of my formative years, and thankfully I did understand why my parents made us go to church (even on the weeks we didn’t feel like going). Living overseas, away from our extended family, I loved growing up with other older people who were my ‘surrogate’ uncles, aunts and grandparents. What a blessing it was to have fellowship with people from different backgrounds, nationalities, denominations and generations! If we did the wrong thing, there was always a loving adult around to discipline us, and they did not hesitate to. How different that is to now, when Sunday School teachers are finding it almost impossible to discipline kids in their own church. Incredible!
It is my observation that the constant separation of age groups in churches, or the focus being on one particular group (e.g. youth) is very harmful to the Body of Christ, and to the healthy functioning of a church. God has blessed many churches with godly, mature people for a reason…the pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus) and 1 & 2 Corinthians could not be more clear on these matters of church life. Sadly, in secular and church life too many people over-value freedom (or a rather poorly defined version of it), and despise godly discipline…no wonder both society and the visible church are in such a mess.
Personally, I did not come to a saving faith in Christ until my late thirties and also left the church for a long period of time. For me, it was when I realised that my youth group ‘Christian’ friends were really no different from my public school non-Christian friends. There was little if any discipline for those of us who were busy being ungodly, yet turning up to church and youth group each week. Lots of young people were sleeping with their girlfriends/boyfriends, and living as worldly, unregenerate people within the church community. I couldn’t keep up the charade and gave up. I attended my parents’ church from time to time during my 20’s, but I did not return to church until after my second child was born. At that time, I was involved in a church that began to embrace the false teachings of the charismatic/NAR movement. I left that church at the time of my conversion, and was baptised in my new church (an Anglican church that preaches the Word of God faithfully).
As a parent of two young children now, I am very aware of my responsibility to teach them the full counsel of God. I praise God for providing us with a faithful church where children are included but not pampered, and are certainly not the focus. They participate in the main church service for everything but the actual sermon, and have proper Bible study in Sunday School. They have learned many of the old, classic hymns and are being taught to discern false teaching from the truth. I love the older folk that attend our church (including my parents), and my kids benefit from their wisdom, godliness and genuine Christian love and kindness. So do I! We also have single folk, widowed people, people with significant disabilities, and many different cultures represented at our church…this is the kind of true, biblical ‘unity in diversity’ (i.e. as opposed to the new age concept of this) that kids benefit from within the Body of Christ. I grieve for those children who are being robbed of the nourishment of God’s Word and the richness of fellowship we have in Christ with all members of His body.
Janet, I do hope you have found a way to be fed the glorious Word of God, despite your experiences and departure from the church. If not, may I commend to you the following pastors, whose sermons from the Word will be a balm for your soul?
Alistair Begg – Truth For Life
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I have also posted some other excellent sermons at The Narrowing Path, under ‘Sermon & Song Links’. I hope these resources are of some benefit to you, and I look forward to hearing from you again if you choose to stick around for further discussion. Feel free to trawl the archives of the blog and let me know what you find!
Blessings in Christ Jesus,