Hillsong London is the only church I’ve ever been into where I felt old! It was an amazing spectacle to see 3,000 people worshiping God. 70% of them are under 25. I was participating in a worship service in a theater with smoke and multimedia screens. It was very dynamic and very modern.
There are 3 powerful ingredients to its success:
1) Practical preaching
The preaching is not traditional biblical homiletics with 3 points that rhyme or have the same letter at the beginning. It’s much more about practical talk to young people about how to live their lives with integrity and dignity. All of the churches we went to that were doing well had charismatic preachers who are able to make the message clear, plain, accessible and practical.
2) Dynamic worship
It's a rave! What we’re seeing now is an appropriation of rave culture by the Church. So churches become a celebration and use music. Lots of people jumping up and down, getting into the groove, shouting out things. That pan-human capacity for expression is a powerful draw for people. Lots of young people attract lots of young people.
3) Cosmopolitan congregation
It’s a church for all nations. If you look across the congregation it’s a wide spectrum of young people across London who go there and lots of people of mixed heritage. There's a cosmopolitan sensibility. People are urban, the cultures are dynamic and flow into each other. It provides one safe space for everyone - no matter what part of London they’re from.
Now, obviously they wouldn’t see it that way. They’d probably say it’s all about prayer and fasting that goes on behind the scenes. And being true to the Word of God and God’s Spirit being at work. And to a certain extent it’s a bit of both. There is a powerful spiritual commitment, energy, devotion and piety that the leadership have. But it’s also married to a very savvy approach.
Dr Robert Beckford was speaking to Justin Brierley