Pay attention to the parody

I don’t know enough about the ministry of Hillsongs to know whether this parody hits the mark or not. I don’t know how focused on money they are or how generous to the poor they are. In some ways that’s not really the point. They have clearly built a reputation and a perception that they are essentially after your money and have made the gospel a commodity item. That worship and buying CDs are a natural fit on a Sunday morning. That might be the wrong perception but usually these things don’t come from nowhere.

In the UK it used to be that church services were parodied as boring, because they often were. Vicars were often portrayed as wet, effeminate, sops because they often were. The perception wasn’t always off base and we should pay attention to what the parodies say.

I hope to lead a church where the offerings are massive, the giving substantial and to regularly call the church to give. Yet I hope to avoid this parody because I hope it will be evident to everyone that the money is not for us, to bless us, to give us a cooler experience but to bless the poor, comfort the needy, reach the lost. The only way to avoid those parodies is for our good works to give others cause to praise God.

HT: To Jon Matthias for the video

8 thoughts on “Pay attention to the parody”

  1. Robert Mason says:

    Given the ‘prosperity gospel’ emphasis that is prevalent in Hillsong, and the enormous revenue generated from album sales, and the Australian press questioning where the money goes ‘http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/hillsong-success-no-miracle/story-e6frg8px-1111114012617’ – since Hillsong don’t publish accounts.. its not suprising that such a parody would arise.

    Brian and Bobbie released a statement to attempt to quell the noise:
    http://hillsong.com/bobbies-and-my-finances-letter-brian-houston

    1. Phil Whittall says:

       Thanks Rob, interesting additions and a good response from Brian Houston

  2. Peter Kirk says:

    Phil, I don’t think it is fair for you to pass on this parody, this attack on your brothers and sisters in Christ, without being familiar enough with the ministry under attack to know it is fair or not. I seem to have the advantage over you that I have actually attended Hillsong London services, twice if I remember correctly. As Brian Houston notes in the statement Robert links to, Hillsong London is a registered charity. I don’t remember the offering having an especially prominent place or any undue pressure being applied – much less pressure than in a typical US situation, although perhaps a bit more than in a traditional C of E setting. Yes, they were selling CDs, books and other merchandise, but that’s because people want to buy them. Do you buy Christian CDs or books?
    But perhaps the worst part of the parody is that the music is nothing at all like Hillsong, because it actually has a melody and lyrics which can be heard!

    1. Phil Whittall says:

       Peter, I’m not sure you’re quite with the point of my post. I’m not passing on an attack, or at least it’s not intended that way. As a leader in Newfrontiers we have some values that are quite easily and readily parodied although not yet on Youtube I think.
      So whether the attack was fair or not isn’t really the issue. The point was more that we should pay attention to the parody. They’ve picked money for a reason and so it’s an opportunity to see ask ‘why do they see it that way?’

      Yes I buy books and CDs but I guess the question is, and one I’ve wrestled with as a former owner of a Christian bookshop, is where does that fit with Christian worship? What does it say about is when shopping and worship mingle so easily together?

      The world will always find a way to attack Christ’s church, some of those will be fair and others won’t. But when it comes to money, the world knows better than we do that we should be known more by what we give away than by what we hold on to.

  3. Peter Kirk says:

    Phil, thanks for the clarification. I accept that your intention in posting was not really to attack Hillsong. But you managed to build a perception that that is what you were doing.

    I can see an argument that production and sale of Christian books, CDs etc should be strictly separated from the church. It would avoid any semblance of profiteering. But I don’t see this kind of dualism as biblical: the church should be brought into business dealings, not kept at arm’s length from them.

    Who needs to parody Newfrontiers values when you have your own living self-parody Adrian Warnock? 😉

    1. Phil Whittall says:

      Well, I don’t know Adrian but I’m not sure that’s being entirely fair to him, Peter. I’m not sure what you mean by bringing the church into business dealings? I think my bigger concern is that rather than offering a radical alternative to the consumer mindset of the West, we feed it. There’s no sabbath from shopping even in the church it seems! I’m not sure it helps us, I think we lose far more than we gain.

      I don’t think it’s being dualistic, but more about recognising what the church (or at least the gathered church for corporate worship) is and what it isn’t. The church at large, beyond the Sunday meetings isn’t being separated from the world of business and commerce, which would be an uncalled for dualism.

  4. Peter Kirk says:

    Phil, the point about Adrian was supposed to be a joke. Hence the smiley.

    But I think you are into dualistic legalism in trying to ban churches from selling things on Sundays. I think the Jesus who had something to say about doing good or evil on the Sabbath might have something to say about a situation where you can buy satanic music and porn on Sundays but Christians refuse to sell worship music or even Bibles.

    1. Phil Whittall says:

       Hi Peter, I thought it was tongue in cheek but missed the smiley sorry! Glad you clarified!

      Well for the record I don’t think Christians should be buying satanic music or porn on any day!

      The world can do as it pleases, sell what it likes, when it likes to who it likes. Just because they can and do doesn’t mean we should follow suit. When Jesus said sabbath was made for man and not the other way round, healing someone was in the forefront not buying a DVD. I’m not banning anything, but grace teaches us to say no sometimes and perhaps in the western world one of the things we should say ‘no’ to more often is shopping. Perhaps too, the church should be something the world ‘praises God’ for because our God works are clearly evident. So I’m arguing for a shift away from a shopping church to a sharing church.

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