Hillsong brings worship to us…no passport required

18 Oct

Fact: All roads lead to Oklahoma.

It may seem crazy, but it’s true. It never ceases to amaze me who walks through our door on any given day, and I’ve just found it to be entirely true that it’s never a question of if but when people will make their way to Oklahoma. We say, “Wait ten minutes and the weather will change.” Ok…how about, “Wait ten minutes and someone who lives on the other side of the world will walk in and rock your world.”

I’ve followed the amazing ministry of Hillsong Church off and on for nearly two decades now. They have so much to give, but they are so far away! So this Okie just contented herself with delighting in their songs on the radio, seeing their pastors at conferences occasionally and making bucket list promises to herself. Sometimes it’s easy to forget, “Ask, and it shall be given to you.”

My first Hillsong wish was to attend the Colour Conference. My second was to worship with them. When I saw the ad in my mom’s church bulletin that the Hillsong Worship team was making a tour stop here in Oklahoma, I went straight to the online ticket booth. No. Way. Most ministries people don’t travel the world. Most ministries people expect you to come to them. And when they do travel, it’s not normally here. Oh, what a blessing when they do.

So last night Hillsong Nights came to town. Three semis and a tour bus and a pretty traditional mainstream church turned upside down with crowds. It was amazing. Still pinching myself that I got to be a part of it. I’ve been to several concerts…big, dark, city arenas full of people who don’t pay any attention to each other. They share a common love of the band and probably a common t-shirt and it’s a lot of fun. But this was a whole other thing entirely. Not just a common love of the band. Not just Christians. Oklahomans, Christians, who listen to Hillsong United, who love to worship our Saviour (see–I wrote it like an Aussie), who were willing to buy a ticket and give up a Saturday night during football season to come watch a bunch of foreign musicians when they could just be home in their jammies listening to them on K-Love. Yeah, there was a long line. Yeah, some of us were a bit eager to get in the doors (sadly there was no assigned seating). But the strangers next to me smiled at me. And they talked to me. And Christian friends who hadn’t seen each other in years were reunited by Hillsong United.

Here’s the other thing.

When I went to the Leadership Summit this year, Brian was a featured speaker. He did a lovely interview with Bill Hybels, and I found myself in tears. Sure, I was blessed by what they were talking about, but I could hardly hear them over the joy in my heart that pastors (men, human men) with really big ministries in their own hemispheres could not only get along but get together. In front of us. My experience in churches has been that ego is a very difficult thing for humanity to overcome, even when Christ is “involved.” It never seemed to matter what the ministry was or who was in charge, but at some point on some level the ego was too big to allow God to continue His work in the flock. Jealousy? Competition? Fear of failure? Pride? Insecurity? Their ministry is already big enough they don’t need mine? I don’t know the root. But what I do know is that when I see men in the church, leaders in the church, behaving the way toward each other that they preach to us to behave toward each other my soul just levitates straight out of my body. It’s just plain generous to share ourselves with others…and just plain faithful to do what God asks us to do without worrying about where we stand in relation to others on the ladder to heaven. I don’t know about you, but I need Christians in Australia. I need Christians in New York, Japan, Sri Lanka and Outer Mongolia. I need Christ in you. I need the Church.

So with great joy I entered in to a much-desired dream of worship with my Family from Australia. And with my Family here in Oklahoma. All together. Singing songs born in the hearts of young, obedient souls generous enough, courageous enough to share their love for God with us. Ah, the glorious Church here on earth when we leave our warts behind at home. True, I got to check off something else on my bucket list. Maybe it was too precious to have ever been on a list to begin with? It was mighty and real and challenging, and as their keyboardist said last night, “God blesses submission and unity.” There is power we don’t even realize when we get ourselves together.

If anyone from Hillsong is reading this, I want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your pastors and your worship teams with us. Thank you Hillsong Worship & United for making this sacrifice of coming all this way to do this for us. And thank you Brian & Bobbie Houston for your willingness to do the same. Our lives are touched and changed because you didn’t stay at home. The Church is touched and changed because you didn’t stay home. I’m keeping my passport in good order because it’s not a matter of if but when I’ll be able to return the favor and come to you. Much love to you all from your Family in Oklahoma.

One more big thank you to Crossings Community Church for being willing to open their doors to a quite loud and rowdy bunch of worshippers last night. I am certain that the event took far more work and hardship on your volunteers than you would ever let on. You are a role model of hospitality and gracious generosity, and may the Lord truly bless you for your service to the entire community of believers in Oklahoma City.

And one final note — the Hillsong: Let Hope Rise documentary movie’s theatrical release has been delayed. Let’s keep the producers and their search for a new theatrical distributor in our prayers!

Pre-concert Q&A with Hillsong Worship team members.

“Live Love Lead” book signing with Brian Houston.

Hillsong United starts off big.

Joel Houston

“Chains will break as heaven and earth sing…”

Bobbie Houston shares about the work of Compassion International.

Brian & Bobbie Houston. What an awesome surprise that Brian had a teaching for us on happiness!

“Even when it’s hard to find the words louder then I’ll sing Your praise…” Taya Smith (Joel Houston in the background)

2 Responses to “Hillsong brings worship to us…no passport required”

  1. Urban Wife October 20, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    Wow! I got chills reading through this post. My husband and I were to blessed to be able to experience Hillsong United in worship when they went through the Tampa Bay area on tour a few years ago. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe that night, but your words have captured it pretty perfectly. I especially loved the parallel you drew between a secular concert and Christian one – so, so true. It would be such a life dream come true for us if we saw them in Australia. 🙂 Anyhow, thank you for sharing your worship experience!

    • Jennifer White October 27, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Aren’t they amazing people? I’m so moved by their ministry. I bet if we chartered a plane we’d be able to fill it with American gals who’d love to attend Colour over there. Maybe I should take that to the Father… 🙂

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