UK Christian Media & Hillsong

From: http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/news/More_Hillsong_Criticism/14476/p1/

The Briefing magazine critiques Hillsong’s COLOUR event.

MORE criticism has emerged in the UK Christian media about the Hillsong churches, whose stream of worship albums have become international best sellers. The latest criticism revolves around a women’s conference held at the Hillsong church in Sydney. The welcome message on the Hillsong website reads as follows: “Women are fantastic. They are beautiful, diverse, interesting and intriguing. Unshackled, they captivate hearts and light up a room. They are warm, embracive, maternal and delightful. They delight in friendship and crave companionship – the desire for loyalty runs within their veins. They’re dynamic and creative and without doubt are fashioned for greatness! We believe in women! We believe in their potential and the significant contribution they bring to this table called Life! We believe that ‘within every woman resides a history maker capable of making her world a better place.’ COLOUR exists to champion this cause. Birthed from a whisper sensed from above, this conference seeks to tell ‘everyday women’ that there is a God in heaven and a company of people here on earth, who believe in them.”

The April issue of The Briefing magazine editorialised, “These paragraphs could no doubt be criticised for their Oprah-Winfrey-style sentimentality, for their tasteless flattery of the target market and possibly even for their excessive use of exclamation marks. But someone has to say it: the worst thing about this message is that it is worldly, sub-Christian tripe. Christianity is about us believing in God, not him believing in us. It’s about him coming to earth as a saviour to rescue sinners, not as a knight in shining armour who comes ‘for the love of a princess.’ I keep being asked whether or not the Hillsong movement is ‘evangelical’, as it is often described in the secular media. If the COLOUR conference represents the Hillsong message to women, qualifying for the tag ‘evangelical’ is the least of their worries. They need to worry about whether their message can fairly be called ‘Christian’.”


46 thoughts on “UK Christian Media & Hillsong

  1. Love Matthias Media –

    “But someone has to say it: the worst thing about this message is that it is worldly, sub-Christian tripe.”

    worldly, sub-Christian tripe – that explains just about every aspect of this movement!

  2. Ha! The criticism is valid. The message at surface value sounds like nothing more than positive hype.

    It makes me cringe. Still, I do know women who seem to love Hillsong. I can’t understand why this stuff is attractive though… to me it seems so shallow and patronising. Not sure why I read it that way. I guess I’m not their target market! I must still have my shackles on 😉

  3. My wife went to a colour conference in the UK.

    Very slick marketing squeezed a lot of money out of her, for sub-standard CD’s and the like.

    Bobbie Houston and Christine Caine spoke. Christine spoke about her painful past (again) and Bobbie spoke about her hair-do and Brian’s gift of a personal trainer to her.

    My wife came home and felt ripped off. The “give, give, give” message was all she came back with and she was very disillusioned by the whole experience.

    No room for any woman who doesn’t fit the “look” either.

    I have no time for the brand at all.

    The sad thing about Hillsong is that they aren’t the worst out there … but frequently invite them to speak at their conferences.
    Expect Todd “intern molester” Bentley to show up in the next year or two.

    Brian Houston has no shame.

    Shalom

  4. No way Todd Bentley would be invited to anything to do with Hillsong. Hillsong are not into punching and kicking people at pretend healing services.

  5. With thanks to Chris Rosebrough at “Fighting For The Faith” and the current trend of “Barbie” theology…

    Is this a promo for the next Colour Conference (and why not use it)?

  6. Oh Teddy, that Barbie trailer looks like it would fit remarkably well!

    Do you think Lara Croft would work for them? She’s an alternative role model, but not so cute and flimsy.

    Not that I’m suggesting Barbie or Lara Croft should be a role model in reality.

  7. If I had to choose, I’d definitely pick Lara Croft over Barbie. Lara looks like she has a hell of a lot more fun.

  8. I like her. She seems to have remained down to earth and movie star status hasn’t gone to her head.

  9. Helen Mirren is so impressive that I think I might be intimidated by the prospect of her as a role model! Nothing Barbie about her.

    Helena Bonham Carter keeps on breaking the rules doesn’t she. A beautiful woman who dresses very strangely. And why not?

  10. But can every everyday woman be like them?

    Why does it feel as though they don’t quite match the blurb in the Hillsong ad:

    They are beautiful, diverse, interesting and intriguing. Unshackled, they captivate hearts and light up a room. They are warm, embracive, maternal and delightful. They delight in friendship and crave companionship – the desire for loyalty runs within their veins. They’re dynamic and creative and without doubt are fashioned for greatness! We believe in women! We believe in their potential and the significant contribution they bring to this table called Life! We believe that ‘within every woman resides a history maker capable of making her world a better place.’

    Is it just the exclamation marks?

  11. What’s wrong with a woman getting her nails done or having a shoulder massage when she goes to Church? That’s part of the friendship and companionship at Hillsong Sisterhood on Thursday mornings.

    You should go one day ravingpente, give a first hand report.

  12. That’s their doctrine Teddy! Great find!

    “Go with Barbie to a journey across the ocean… to a place where dreams come alive.” – 0:44

    “Magic happens when you believe in yourself!” – 0:52

    “It’s time to “Shimmer!”, “Glimmer!”, “Shine!”. You believed- now look at the results! Does anyone else feel inspired?” – 0:54

  13. Nothing wrong with getting your nails done or a shoulder massage.

    Of course, it does mean that either:
    a) Husband is earning so much that wife can stay at home and do nothing (hang on … wait for it … before women start planning on carving out my tripes!)
    b) that wife has no children to look out for, has a personal slave servant to do ALL the housework, cleaning, washing clothes, ironing, crisp ‘hospital’ corners on the beds … and that’s without getting the kids from school, cooking their dinner, getting them washed and bathed, washing the dishes etc etc etc.

    A woman’s work is never done.

    It’s all predicated on if the husband is earning a packet while the wife hasn’t vacuumed the house in ten years. But what if the roles were reversed and the husband stayed at home while the wife worked?

    He isn’t gonna hang out with the sisterhood, getting his nails done is he?

    It’s part of a lifestyle choice that certain women can benefit from but the majority of hard-working women cannot access.

    out of an attendance of 20000, how many women actually go to that thing and are they personal friends of Bobbie?

    Nice perk for the wives of full time staff?

    Jesus didn’t call us to be pampered. He called us to be martyrs. (which means ‘witnesses’)
    We are to be dead to self … not selfishly pampering ourselves!

    Rant over … I’m going to the Gym!!!

  14. “What’s wrong with a woman getting her nails done or having a shoulder massage when she goes to Church? That’s part of the friendship and companionship at Hillsong Sisterhood on Thursday mornings.

    You should go one day ravingpente, give a first hand report.” – newtaste

    Well, great for those who are into that kind of thing.

    It’s just that its not all women, just some women, who are interested in those things – particularly at church. And they don’t make you any more or less a woman, or any better or worse a person.

    I have never been very interested in that kind of event at church. If I want that stuff, I can get it elsewhere, easily enough. When I attended church, I was looking for something I couldn’t just buy at a shop. (With or without friends.)

    I didn’t mention nails or shoulder massages actually; I am more interested in what is being portrayed as a model for every day women to aspire to. The thing about churches is that they convey a moral authority, so some degree of weight is attributed to their attitudes towards these things.

    In the past, Hillsong has used courses on grooming to address women’s self esteem. I believe that surface fixes don’t fix the real issues inside in the long term, though they may be enjoyable in the short term. If they are used as a lure in schools (Shine) to attract potential converts, fine, as long as the purpose of telling people about Jesus is also mentioned up front. Jesus didn’t make a big deal about appearances. It doesn’t seem appropriate for a church to either, whether its dressing up, down or however.

    Now to disclose any personal biases:

    In terms of myself: I don’t get my nails done professionally, except once in my life for my wedding. They wouldn’t last a day. And I hate the hassle of cleaning all the stuff off, and having them look chipped until I do. (Learnt that lesson when I was much younger, and did my nails myself.)

    However – I have been known to book a relaxation massage, and would totally recommend them to anyone who really just wants to physically unwind. (If the therapist is good.) I love Spas. (The kind where you get treatments.) You come out feeling great. Heretic and I have occasionally done this on holiday. Angsana was the best we’ve been to. We don’t do it very often, but its a treat on those rare occasions.

    I also go to the osteopath occasionally and get fixed wonderfully well at times by their highly competent massage therapist.

    I get my hair cut and coloured (my natural colour at the moment) to hide the grey bits. Yes, a bit of vanity I guess. But sometimes (like right now), I don’t have time, and my cut/colour is running about 6 weeks late. (School holidays etc interfered.) When that happens, I don’t get stressed about it. It doesn’t matter. People who I want to know won’t think less of me for neglecting it for a bit.

    I do go to the gym. I have used personal trainers. This all has its place. Just not something that we need to focus on at church; we have all this stuff advertised to us all the time anyway!

    What else? I worked in retail design for a time. ALL about image. Worked on other projects which were aimed at upmarket wealthy end users – saw how elitism was deliberately fostered as a marketing tool. It was all pure invention.

    These things are all fine, but they aren’t going to supply spiritual answers to people.

    Plus as Bull pointed out, they aren’t accessible to everyone, and basically are just a lifestyle choice if you can afford them. As Christians, we need to not judge anyone by the absence or presence of them. It would be unfortunate if a church ministry promoted those things as being important to our sense of well being. The advertising industry does that already.

    Now, the companionship – that’s another thing. That could be good. If that is the main thing, great.

  15. First of all, I would have to say Charlize Theron. Not only is she gorgeous, but she does tons of great humanitarian work.

    Second of all, it looks like those “Barbies” that go to Colour Conference have been reading James 1:27

    “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

    Came across a few interesting stats from over the years at these conferences.

    Thousands of items for care packages for homeless people.

    Over 7000 Children sponsored through Compassion

    Nearly 1500 sponsorships for Living Hope, helping women with HIV in Uganda.

    Nearly 3000 Samaritans purse boxes.

    Over $100k raised for a Mumbai kitchen that feeds 1500 people per day.

    Nearly 300 sponsorships with A21 for rescuing trafficked women.

    And I’m sure that’s not all. You can make fun of these women and these conferences all you want, but the fact remains, they know the heart of God and they are changing the world.

  16. @ Troy – of course only Christ can change the world. And if they are not preaching Christ and Him crucified (instead their best life) – “(Brian)Houston we have a problem”.

    Charitable works is not the measure – just take a look at George Soros for example, multi-billi0naire, financier, philanthropist, ATHEIST.

    http://www.soros.org/ If good works get you into heaven he gets a front row ticket!

  17. Ah Troy – I’m not meaning to make fun of the women who attend those conferences, so apologies if it comes across that way. I tried to make the point that I enjoy those kind of things too, at times, but don’t find I need to go to church to enjoy them.

    To me – well, once upon a time anyway – church was a place I attended to learn about God and to relate to other Christians. If a conference focused on teaching grooming, I would have found it redundant. Whereas if it was getting into the challenges that women might face in Christ, in particular situations, that would have been relevant. Most women these days work, either full or part time, and have to present themselves in an acceptable way accordingly. Plus there is just general social convention for most of us. So why make more of a deal of these things that are already a part of our lives? If it was aimed at young or disadvantaged women, to teach them grooming skills that would help them find employment etc, then that would be good.

    However, I get the impression that a part of it is how one should present oneself to one’s man. Having had a couple of babies, I am more than grateful that I don’t have to worry about how I look in front of my husband. When you are stretched out of shape, and exhausted by the demands of small kids, worrying about your appearance is helpful. Knowing that your husband loves and accepts you regardless, and is supportive of you, is extremely helpful.

    Women’s looks and our ability to tend to them vary with our innate genetics, the amount of money we have access to, and the amount of time we have, let alone our interest. NONE of those things are relevant to being a Christian woman.

    I was grateful to find that the Pentecostal churches weren’t critical of women wearing makeup or being fashionable, after leaving my first local non-Pente church, where make-up may have been regarded as a bit too worldly at the time. We don’t want to get legalistic about these things.

    The point is they don’t really matter! If something places an emphasis on them, it comes across as shallow, and if that emphasis is consistent and long term, in a ministry, then it seems immature and girlish. It also appears to emphasise a view of women that diminishes them by placing them in that particular box.

    Anyway, I’m talking about the impression that is created. Those exclamation marks in the blurb really heighten the effect.

    It is good that they do things such as Compassion. I sponsor kids via Compassion too. I am becoming a bit concerned by Hillsong’s growing appropriation of that charity, but they do great work all around the world.

  18. Yes, that’s the article and the audio brings a thoughtful, biblical perspective to the underlying problems within the charismatic movement. Trevor Hammack is a bi-vocational Reformed Baptist pastor working in the US military, and has been a helpful part of our transitioning out of C3 over the past 4 years.

  19. Well, that is interesting.

    By the way, I have realised that I’ve been misinterpreting scripture, and have to completely change my stance on the Barbie theology above.

    Heretic has reminded me of Colossians 3:2:

    Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (NASB)

    What else could ‘things above’ be referring to, other than our hair! There should definitely be more of this.

  20. RP, “What else could ‘things above’ be referring to, other than our hair!”

    air… clouds… winds… free space… nothingness…

    Pretty much the spirit of barbie.

  21. I’m well and truly lost here, what part of worshiping Jesus does ‘having my nails done’ fit?? pleeeeeeaaaaase!

  22. I remember talking to a real bimbo of a woman from Hillsong where she tried to justify the pamper-me-pretty Woman’s Conference. I asked her a similar question Ruth. I remember asking her, “So your nails look great, your face looks great. You look like an Australian Idol winner… How does this conference bring you closer to Jesus?”

    I loved her response. First she sighed despairingly, rolled her eyes then said, “Well I have to die to myself to look good. It’s hard work always looking good, looking your best for Jesus. YOU TRY!”

    That’s nearly a direct quote. I had to end the conversation. I didn’t want to laugh at her face at what she just said.

    By the way, she looked like Barbie and reminded me of Hillary Faye from the movie ‘Saved’.

  23. ““Well I have to die to myself to look good. It’s hard work always looking good, looking your best for Jesus. YOU TRY!”

    That’s who they are looking their best for? I wonder what Jesus thinks?

  24. “Come unto me ….. and I will give you rest.”

    Enough Martha’s in the church without this pressure too.

  25. Specks, I wonder if she said ‘die to myself’ or ‘diet’ myself. Though I guess dieting requires self denial, so maybe the distinction isn’t relevant.

    Anyway, the concept of ‘looking good for Jesus’ is one I’ve never personally come across before. I have come across the concept of dressing fashionably at church to present a good image to visitors or to show respect for the occasion. At least neither of those were ‘looking good for Jesus’. But our ex-pastor did actually preach about the way people should dress – as a kind of aside to the main preach. He felt men should wear their shirts out over their jeans or whatever to look better – more flattering having the shirt skim over the gut I guess, and fashionable at the time! Well, that was probably better than suggesting any man with a gut should diet. The idea was to present a good image to visitors. So I guess these things aren’t always aimed at the women only. I’ve always wondered if that was the main agenda of teaching people grooming at church – to improve the visual image of the church as a whole, like an advertisement. Merely justified by things like addressing self esteem issues, but not the real agenda. Ah, but churchman, like your post on the other thread, I am just sounding cynical now.

  26. At one time, I think the image thing did address the perception that Christians were always daggy – going to the other extreme of appearing to not care about how they looked at all in terms of fashion, make-up etc. But surely that was addressed a very long time ago now. Really, the point is that we are free to dress however we feel suits us at the time, as long as we respect other people in the process.

  27. Hillsong’s COLOUR event?

    2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears

  28. They don’t really care about women – my male home group leader had a go at me about a Christian women’s support group I was attending (to work through an issue which had impacted on my life) as it was an excuse for us to sit around moaning and being negative….
    They just want women to pretend that everything’s ok and push it all down…

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