For many Christians, Hillsong has been a household name for years. However, many non-Christians in the U.S. are just starting to hear about the church and the movement since big-name celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant have had life-changing experiences there.
The magazine GQ took notice and sent one of their writers, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, to do an in-depth article on the church, pastor and culture. Here is the tagline from the story:
“It’s the church of choice for Bieber and Durant. It’s where the cool kids spend Sunday morning after Saturday night at the club. For ye of little faith, it’s hard to make sense out of Hillsong. Is it legit? Is it a hipster cult? And why’s everyone wearing Saint Laurent? GQ‘s Taffy Brodesser-Akner joins the flock to find out if Christianity can really be this cool and still be Christian.”
See the full article here: “What Would Cool Jesus Do?”
In the article, the writer, a non-Christian, spends a significant amount of time with the pastor of NYC Hillsong, Carl Lentz (pictured), who is a BFF/mentor to more celebrities than we can mention. She also tells a touching account of the night Justin Bieber was saved and baptized, and is very raw and honest about her internal draw to church while ultimately deciding not to accept the gospel for the time being.
The story is real and beautiful and gives a great perspective on how hip/modern churches feel to outsiders. It also gives a glimpse into the soul of a person experiencing the call of Christ.
Here are a few highlights:
“I was witnessing the logical conclusion of an evolutionary convergence between coolness and Christianity that began at the dawn of the millennium, when progressive-minded Christians, terrified of a faithless future, desperately rended their garments and replaced them with skinny jeans and flannel shirts and piercings in the cartilage of their ears, in a very ostentatious effort to be more modern and more relatable.”
“His concept of Jesus is a man who goes after the soul, who changes behavior through leadership and enlightenment. ‘Religion’—Carl does not like that word—’goes after behavior modification, and then if we get around to it, maybe we’ll talk to your soul. And this is killing people. So I always want to talk about things bigger than sexuality, and in our culture I get why it’s such a huge deal. I get why people want to make us have bold, big statements, but I don’t believe it’s working.’”
“He is so worried for my soul, and this should annoy me, but instead it touches me, because maybe I’m worried about my soul, too, and Carl wants so badly for me to enjoy heaven with him. How can I fault someone who is more sincere about this one thing than I have ever been about anything in my life? But on the other hand, if there’s one thing that’s true about Christianity, it’s that no matter what couture it’s wearing, no matter what Selena Gomez hymnal it’s singing, it’s still afraid for your soul, it still thinks you’re in for a reckoning. It’s still Christianity. Christianity’s whole jam is remaining Christian.”
“People will tell you you’re an idiot for believing in God, but what they don’t understand is that it’s like trying to imagine the world without air: You can do it for a second, but then the image falls apart. Carl nodded and smiled. Exactly. This was what we had in common, only I was vexed by it, and it gave him life. I wanted to tell him then that I feel lost lately, that sometimes I felt this overwhelming sense that I’m not tethered to anything real, but I didn’t, because I know Carl has just one answer to that question, and I already know what it is.”
Hopefully this article continues to stir up conversations and open the doors for many to show the love of God!
Here is a video GQ made called “Inside Hillsong”:
Did you get a chance to read the full article from GQ? What are your initial thoughts?