I didn’t want to have to write this article, but I’ve been asked questions on the subject and decided this was the best way to address it.
If you know me, you would know these two facts about me: Firstly, I love Hillsong Church. I was a member while I attended their Bible College. It was an incredible and life-changing experience. I know they are anointed, which is why they’ve had such a global impact and influence. I know what they’re all about, because I’ve seen behind the scenes, something many people have not had the privilege of doing.
Secondly, I will not publicly call out or criticize other Christians and ministers, especially those who have accomplished so much more than I have. However in this instance, enough is enough.
I will always give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t like to speak unless I know the entire story. I will be careful not to jump to conclusions until I know all the details and facts. But right now, there simply is no longer a defense to be made for Pastor Carl Lentz, of Hillsong New York.
I recognize that no one is perfect. In fact, looking to a person to completely represent God is always a recipe for disaster. But it is becoming increasingly frustrating that the global Hillsong entity has elected to use Pastor Lentz as their representative. Frankly, it’s a bad look.
His continued unwillingness to take a stand for the truths in the word of God has gotten my attention. I have never met him, and I’m quite certain that he couldn’t care less what I have to say. But he has the amazing opportunity to be a real influence for the gospel. He has appeared on Oprah and The View, but yet has come out of those interviews having refused to clearly and decidedly declare what the Bible says.
I would imagine Hillsong is growing tired of printing statements and retractions to cover his butt. He is more known for being “Justin Beiber’s Pastor” than he is for taking a firm stand on crucial and important issues that our world faces. I know what he’s trying to do. I know he doesn’t want to turn anybody off, or push people away before he even gets the chance to introduce them to the gospel.
His influence is now such that he’s seen as trendy and modern, more than he’s seen as a man of a faith and conviction. By being wishy-washy, and side-stepping questions (the opposite of the conservative brand of Christianity that the world hates), he’s causing people to take notice of God and church, people who likely would have never turned a listening ear before. And the intention behind it is great. But the method, well that leaves much to be desired.
The Bible says we know people by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). And what we know of Pastor Lentz is that his church is growing, and thriving, and doing a great work in an extremely difficult environment. But he’s been afforded such an amazing opportunity to publicly preach the gospel, and he’s squandering it.
Jesus was compassionate. He didn’t turn anybody away. His arms were opened to all. But he never skirted the issues. He didn’t use fancy words to get out of tough conversations, or dodge the truth. He clearly stated what sin was, and never wavered. Pastor Lentz doesn’t represent all of Hillsong, because he is one person, and they have hundreds of churches all over the world, with thousands of members.
But I can’t be anything but disappointed to see the reputation he and his church has allowed to exist. I know Hillsong is better than that. I’m not going to turn my back on them because of one person.
Here’s the reality. Pastor Lentz seems super nice and welcoming. And that’s great. He says it’s only God’s place to judge, and he gets a cheer from the crowd. If cheers are what he’s after, then mission accomplished. But Jesus didn’t suffer and die for us to be nice. There are plenty of nice people all over the world who have no concept of God or Jesus.
God sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sin and our sickness. He sent his spirit to empower us to live holy lives. Part of that is being kind, and humble, and compassionate to others, especially those who have never heard the gospel and who aren’t aware of their sin.
However we are doing a gross injustice to the world if we use a public platform to appease people, and refuse to call sin sin. Will any of the people sitting in the audience watching Pastor Lentz’s interview, or those watching on TV, be more likely to go to church? Really, why would they need to? If being a Christian is about being nice, “having conversations”, and giving to the poor, why do we need get up early every Sunday to live that out?
The world needs to know what sin is, know that they living as slaves to sin, and know that there is a savior who can and will set them free. Pastor Lentz, your publicized version of the gospel won’t transform lives. It’s fun being famous, I’m sure you love it. You have cool glasses and stuff.
Hillsong leadership, stand up and do something about your man. Enough is enough.