This is a good article, with lessons for the church that apply far beyond Hillsong. When the church puts being cool above being holy, when church leadership is more concerned with relevance than faithfulness, bad things happen. The article might be behind a paywall so here are some key takeaways:
“Evangelicals would do well to open their eyes to the dangerous myth that we can gain acceptance from the world and remain faithful to the gospel.
After all, the world zealously attacks the church when she fails to live up to her own moral standards. Hillsong seems to be losing credibility fast, especially with those outside Christian circles. Anti-Christian critics have eagerly lapped up the scandal. The cosmopolitan crowd Hillsong sought so hard to impress are now the church’s greatest critics. It’s hard to find much sympathy for Hillsong’s members and its leadership as they pick up the pieces. It’s a pathetic sight.
It’s pathetic because Hillsong and many of its imitators put so much effort into appealing to a fundamentally unserious culture that despises traditional Christianity. None of the glitz and glamour of the Hillsong brand has been able to shield its denominations from the angry condemnations of non-Christian pundits. Why should they? Non-Christian skeptics are particularly enraged at anyone who rejects sexual permissiveness, which is why they find so much schadenfreude in the adultery of pastors. While such failings don’t delegitimize God’s unchanging moral law, they do harm the church’s testimony and make her the target of both fair rebuke and unfair scorn. Yet the comforting lie remains: We think we can get people to like us if we just get the “branding” right—if we are hip enough, smart enough, emotionally satisfying enough, practical enough, entertaining enough. The amount of time and resources spent on this quest is dizzying.”
“While it may be easy for some within the church to pile on the current condemnations of everything Hillsong, evangelicals would do well to open their eyes to the dangerous myth that we can gain acceptance from the world and remain faithful to the gospel. For many of us, that will include a fundamental reevaluation of what makes for effective evangelism, faithful discipleship, the majestic worship of a holy God, and godly pastoral ministry. But, above all, we can’t kid ourselves. Chasing after the “cool factor” is, at best, a waste of energy. More to the point, it’s a scandal to the gospel.”
The article also quotes Carl Trueman’s trenchant warning from almost a decade ago:
“You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist."