hillsong @ the movies

Hillsong United is set to unveil a multi-pronged web / media initiative called I Heart Revolution, which consists of a) a double CD live recording of songs that have already been previously released, b) a 2 disc DVD of those songs, and c) “a global online community where at any moment you can see what other like-minded people all around the world are doing locally to make a difference.”

As part of this initiative, United will be screening the DVD at 60 Cineplex theatres across Canada on May 21. This has me scratching my head a little bit. I can’t imagine heading over to SilverCity, paying whatever the admission will be, grabbing some popcorn, a pack of Nibs and a Coke and watching a worship DVD on the big screen. This is basically a gift wrapped youth event for Johnny Youth Pastor, who can easily provide his kids with a viable alternative for the typical teenage friday night fare at a discounted group rate. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that [?], one must consider who is profiting from this venture and that there are probably a hundred better ways to use ones time and resources than this.

Something just smells wrong when the church gets too cozy with the consumerist culture in which we live. Let’s be honest. Hillsong is a marketable brand within Christian circles [I own several CD’s myself], and this seems to be a clear case of taking advantage of a target market with that brand name, all in the name of worshiptainment.

Someone could easily crack back at me and say ‘well wouldn’t this be better than dropping money on seeing some dumb Hollywood flick in the very same theatre?’, or ‘certainly this is better than XYZ?’ And you may be right, but I think that to present that argument is to miss the point. I realize that, in my own life, I make choices that feed the monster of consumerism, and that there are many ways that I can better use my time and resources. I, as a follower of Jesus, am called to demonstrate a new and better way of living, not one that mirrors the culture around me. In that light, neither going into theatre A to watch a movie nor going into theatre B to watch United are necessarily the right call.

We, as the church, need to blaze a trail that goes against the grain; we cannot serve both God and Mammon. As I write this, I understand that I am pointing out the speck in another’s while trying to see the computer screen around the log in mine. We, as the church, have a long way to go in terms of demonstrating what the Kingdom is meant to look like in today’s world, and this just seems like a step in the very wrong direction.

Am I off base here? Any thoughts?

    • JT
    • March 19th, 2008

    “In that light, neither going into theatre A to watch a movie nor going into theatre B to watch United are the right call.”

    is this a typo? i don’t think that watching films is necessarily un-kingdomlike (?!!).

    i think it’s hard, for me at least, to really get mad at hillsong. i mean, whoever isn’t against us is for us…didn’t Jesus say something along those lines? or was it paul?

    other than that, i certainly understand your qualms with consumerist christianity, of which i often fall prey. andddddd, i do find it problematic when you wrap worship up in something shiny and market and sell it. weird.


  1. Turtle – It’s not a typo. What I meant was that if someone says that they would rather be doing the Hillsong at the movie thing than say, going to see Drillbit Taylor, they kind of cancel each other out in that they both are of feeding the monster. I watch movies ALL the time, but would I say that it’s always the wisest use of my time and resources? No. That’s all I’m saying.

    Yeah, Jesus said pretty much that, but I’m not sure if the context really fits here. I’d have to look it up.

    Like you said though, there’s something off putting about it. It is a problem when worship [and the Gospel as a whole] is packaged and sold like this. It smells funny.

    I don’t know, it’s not a black and white thing, I guess. Nothing really is. I’m not mad about it, per-say, I just think it’s unfortunate; this is not the way it’s supposed to be.

    Thanks for the comment, man.

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