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Found 1 result

  1. Gerardo Martí Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 377–386,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx059 Published: 12 December 2017 Abstract In a short time, Hillsong has become a powerful congregational presence across the world and deserves more focused scholarly attention. Hillsong Church is part of an ongoing elaboration of evangelicalism, much of which has recently merged with a softer form of Pentecostalism (often called Charismatic Christianity), encouraging sermons and songs to be more conversational, and embracing a more therapeutic emphasis on emotional well-being with the promise of immediacy to an intimate God whose Spirit-filling empowerment energizes even the most mundane activities of work and family in everyday life. Arising out of Australia, Hillsong has become a worldwide commercial enterprise, distributing music and related products to Christian consumers who are entrained to a particular rhythm of religious sounds. Hillsong is also a philosophy of ministry that represents a set of theological convictions, an approach to pastoral leadership, and a type of networked ecclesial organization. In the end, Hillsong is more than just a church, a collection of music, a style of worship, an approach to ministry, or a set of corporate entities—it is an impressive ecclesial force, a global phenomenon that builds on a set of historical developments that comprise a wave of understandings and practices zooming into our religious future. Early last year, our Aunt Debbie texted my wife and I to say that a Hillsong concert was scheduled a few months away not far from where we lived. She wanted to go and would we go with her…? It was a curious message because Aunt Debbie is not a Pentecostal, “Spirit-filled” Christian nor is she prone to flying out to events on a whim. I certainly did not know she had any interest in the ministry of Hillsong Church. She was raised in a strict, Bible-centered congregation where all the women wore veils and only men preached from the pulpit. She grew up to become a well-educated professional, succeeding in a corporate career while taking care of a husband and kids. She sincerely believes in Jesus and anticipates the resurrection, believing that prayer works and that the Bible is true. Her church was fine, mixing hymns and newer songs, all nice and orderly. And yet—Hillsong captured Aunt Debbie’s attention. She got a glimpse of a different type of worship when visiting churches on vacation, a taste of raw emotional ecstasy, and began to seek out more spiritually immersive environments. She wanted a space where she could lose herself and raise her hands—yes, raise her hands—without worrying what others around her might think. So, one late summer evening, Aunt Debbie, my wife, and I joined 4,000 other Hillsong ticket-holders at an open-air arena in the hills of North Carolina. We took our seats in rows facing three giant screens and several impressive boxes of stereo speakers. The music started, loud and energetic, and she immediately recognized it, and we sang along, following lyrics projected for us, learning the melodies, lights moving and flashing all around, the swell of an enormous crowd of voices rising around us. I looked over to see Aunt Debbie raising her hands—one arm first, then the other as well. She raised her hands, and she worshipped. For many in the United States like my Aunt Debbie, Hillsong represents a compelling musical pathway to an emotional one-on-one connection to God. Yet as a sociologist of religion, I knew that the Hillsong experience sought by my Aunt Debbie was more than just about a style of worship. It touched her as a mature woman who is deeply religious yet seeks support for traditional roles that have been marginalized. It also connects her to a social atmosphere that is more modern than her usual church setting and reflects her everyday experience living in an urban and often youth-affirming world. And Hillsong provides opportunity to enact an embodied and emotional participation in worship, one that is as physically involved as it is compelling and cathartic. Hillsong Church is part of an ongoing elaboration of evangelicalism, much of which has recently merged with a softer form of Pentecostalism (often called Charismatic Christianity, see Cox 1995), one that encourages sermons and songs to be more conversational, embracing a more therapeutic emphasis on emotional well-being (Martí 2008, forthcoming; Miller 1997). Worship is a guided, event-focussed, corporate effort attached to a promise of immediacy to an intimate God, a God whose Spirit-filling empowerment energizes even the most mundane activities of work and family in everyday life (Martí 2008, 2010b). More than this, Hillsong is also a worldwide commercial enterprise, distributing music and related products to Christian consumers who are entrained to a particular rhythm of religious sounds. Hillsong is also a philosophy of ministry that represents a set of theological convictions, an approach to pastoral leadership, and a type of networked ecclesial organization. In a short time, Hillsong emerged out of Australia to become a powerful congregational presence in cities and nations across the world. Hillsong is more than just a church, a collection of music, a style of worship, an approach to ministry, or a set of corporate entities—it is an impressive ecclesial force, a global phenomenon that builds on a set of historical developments, a wave of understandings and practices zooming into our religious future. ... https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article/78/4/377/4731531
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