On Sunday I went to he famous Hillsong Church two times. In the morning I went to their extension service out here by Macquarie University where Sarah is taking classes this semester. The church meets in a movie theater in the local mall. The service lasted an hour and a half and featured lots of contemporary music and a very good speaker. The Pastor as away and Sarah was little disappointed because she went last week and really liked him. The guest preacher was good though. He preached about sharing your faith in the real world. He gave us answers to five questions that our "mates" might raise at work, in school or out in our given place in life.
He began by quoting a scripture but he never really elaborated on it but that was due to the fact that he was dealing with a psecial topic as part of a three week series. I liked what he had to say.
The five charges he tried to answer were as follows:
1) How can your faith stand up to the fact that science has proven so much about the world that it looks like fairy tales in comparison to the scientific evidence that has been produced?
2) How can you base your faith on a book that was written in ancient times that has no understanding of the complexities of the world we live in time?
3) How can religion be good if it has caused so much suffering and persecution ie, the Crusades and he slaughter of innocents?
4) Who do you think you are to say Christianity is the only way to salvation? That is incredibly arrogant in this pluralistic society.
5) How can you believe in a good God that lets tsunamis and terrible disasters happen while he sits in heaven?
He offered some great answers to these qwuestions and I may just preach on them later this fall. After the service we hooked up with Sarah's lab supervisor who had originally invited her to come. There were a lot of younger people there and the service was above board and very much from the heart.
I have read a lot about emergent worship and what every book will tell you is that young people are looking for authenticity. hey get it at this church.
Later that evening I traveled down town and took a shuttle to the Hillsong City service. It was an interesting experience. The church is really set up in a warehouse like building with dark walls and moveable chairs. They have the latest technology set up and a five panel screen going across the front of the worship area. he video presentations were very professional. So was he Praise team.
Hillsong is known fo their music and the songs were great. The lyrics brought the Bible to life and made you think. One woman I met warned me that the evening service was geared to young people and I told her that was fine by me. I met some very nice people. I was also impressed with their "cry room" a glass paneled area that looked in on the "sanctuary" IT had comfortable seating and lots of play area.
The preacher was doing a series on Heores of the Faith which was running concurrently with the Hills Campus. He spoke about Joepsh and the character that made him great. It was a very good sermon.
I enjoyed both worship services but I came away with a few thoughts.
1) First, I never got to meet either of the preachers. In the mega churches the preachers are really secluded and kept away from the people. No greeting at the door. I found the same thing at Willow Creek. I miss that and don't think I could live with that kind of set up, although I undersand it.
2) I liked the fact that a lot of people were volunteering for all kinds of things and it gave them a purpose for being there. There was a guy cleaning the bathroom as well as bus drivers and lots of greeters. They had child care workers and folks to greet people afterwards with Bibles and coffee.
Well I'll write more later but I would be happy to hear your thoughts if you have ever been to a church of two thousand or more.