Thoughts After a Hillsong United Concert

Last night I attended a Hillsong United concert at the Wang Theater in Boston.  The Wang Theater seats 3600, and it seemed filled up with people pouring out their hearts before God – what a night… I was very blessed.

Here are some of my reflections on last night (mostly positive):

1.  I love Hillsong United’s heart. You can say what you want about their worship style, but they are totally souled-out for Jesus!  There’s a world of difference between a worship song led by someone who’s performing rather than truly worshipping God.

2. I REALLY appreciate worship songs that address the reality of suffering without simply saying “Jesus will fix it.” When we read the Psalms (the Hymnal of the Old Testament) we find all these times when the writer is really struggling with God’s “distance” and silence.  Many of our worship songs seem to gloss over this “silent times” of faith and almost end up saying “You may be in the valley now, but don’t worry… God will take care of it.”  I appreciated that some of Hillsong United’s songs really dealt with these silent times in a meaningful way.  If you want a better idea what type of song I’m talking about (in a good way) then here’s a video to check out:

3. Altar calls that don’t point to the cross and call people to actually repent and give their lives to Jesus really frustrate me. Jesus is the Gospel.  “God” is a very general word in today’s culture and people can easily interpret “God” to mean whatever they perceive Him to be… but “Jesus” is very specific.  There is no Gospel without what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty grave.  I don’t think every Gospel presentation and Altar call needs to be presented the same exact way, but they should include at least two elements to be affective: First, they need to be Cross-Centered, and Second, they need to call people to Repentance and not simply confession of sin (I can say “Sorry that I’ve sinned” without committing myself to Jesus… but I can’t repent without doing that).

4. I’m getting older... there were moments when I felt like I was on the outside looking in because I didn’t get the worship experience others were feeling.  This really helped me identify with some of the older generations in my own church who are pretty ambivalent about the contemporary worship we’re trying to incorporate at Emmanuel.  There was one point in particular when people were singing “Woah woah woah” with arms raised high and clearly were being “moved,” but I just didn’t get it.  I don’t mean this as a judgement or anything… I just didn’t get it and felt like an old fuddy-duddy for a few minutes.

5. I was challenged to ask “How does some of this translate to serving churches in their worship services?” Some of the songs were great songs declaring who God is and what He’s done and what He promises,etc… but I couldn’t help thinking “How do you get up and preach a sermon after this song?”  Maybe I’m even more old-school than I realize (which I just may be!), but I firmly believe the sermon ought to be the focal point of the Christian worship service: bringing the Word of God (Scripture) to the people of God to call them to live righteous, humble, godly lives.  I don’t think it’s wrong or bad for there to be worship songs that you would only use for “special” worship services occasionally, but this was just one of my thoughts from the night I thought I’d share.

6.  Revival in New England is on more peoples hearts than I realize. To my knowledge, every nation-wide revival in America has roots  in New England.  I don’t want to be a “crazy” Christian… but I really am praying that God would do a might work in our nation through the least likely place (Boston!).

4 thoughts on “Thoughts After a Hillsong United Concert

  1. Lauren Cope April 14, 2010 / 2:27 pm

    Wow, Hillsong’s video is amazing. Contrast it with Lady Gaga’s trash and you see living proof of good and evil in this world. We need to be in prayer that Lady Gaga comes to know the Lord, for her own salvation and for the influence she has on teens (and the American people in general). My advice, if you watch the video for Telephone, watch Hillsong’s immediately after so you can feel cleansed and back on track; it’s a real blessing and is a clear reminder that there are teens out there who want to worship God and live for Him. Hallelujah!

  2. Johnny Ames April 15, 2010 / 11:12 pm

    Revival is happening. God is moving. Throughout the city churches are rising up with a fire for the Lord. How about the ‘burbs? Let us explode love into our communities as one CHURCH!


  3. Lilie May 9, 2014 / 1:37 am

    Hi Pastor Mike, I’m seventeen years old and as I was reading this, I saw you mention there being “Silent Times”. I must be in one of those, because no matter how much I cry out for God, it just feels like he’s never going to answer me again. I strayed away for while and I used to be apart of the worship team and the feeling of worshipping was unreal. Now I don’t have any special feeling of the Holy Spirit and have this fear of not making The Rapture, essentially of going to hell. I know I didn’t commit the unforgivable sin “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit ” I just can’t shake this awful feeling. I wonder if you could possibly put my mind at ease? Thank you, I really appreciate it.

    • Pastor Mike May 9, 2014 / 2:10 pm

      Hi Lilie, thank you so much for commenting here and reaching out. As a youth pastor, I would really encourage you to talk with a pastor or youth leader at your church (assuming you attend). If you don’t attend a church, I would strongly encourage you to look for a good evangelical, Bible-teaching church. Here’s my counsel:

      First, thank God that our faith is build on more than emotions! Just because you can’t “feel” him right now, that doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit is absent. It may feel like God is giving you the silent-treatment, but maybe it’s to teach you that you cannot rely on your feelings quite so much. I hope this doesn’t come off as an accusation, because it’s not… I don’t even know you to say this is true, but it is an important lesson that we all (especially emotionally-sensitive people) need to remember.

      Second, remember his faithfulness in the past… and ask yourself, “Why would God give up on me now?!” Philippians 1:6 says, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God isn’t finished with you yet. God is faithful, even when we doubt and struggle.

      Third, cling to the Gospel. This really is the most important thing I have to say. Jesus did not die on the cross for your sins because you were “worth it.” He took the penalty for your sins because you were guilty and because He is loving and compassionate. You wrote that for a while you strayed from the faith. Ok… and have you received the forgiveness that Jesus has already given? I’m not saying “have you received it in theory”… I’m saying, “Do you truly believe you are forgiven, washed clean, declared ‘innocent!’ because of your faith in Jesus Christ?” Remember that God’s grace is more than a good idea… it is the reality from which we draw our life and hope as Christians.

      Fourth, and finally, be committed to Scripture and prayer. If you want to hear from God, then open your Bible. You probably will not have your mind blown every time you open up the Bible, but if you are not constantly drinking from God’s Word then you are missing the opportunity for God to shape your mind and to prepare your heart for those “bursts” of insight He gives when something really stands out.

      I hope this is helpful. I will be praying for you, Lilie, and please let me know if you have any more questions or if there’s anything in particular for which you would like prayer.

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