Hillsong, London

Hillsong Church, Tottenham Court Road, London


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Hillsong Church
Location: Tottenham Court Road, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 4 May 2014, 7:00pm

The building

They meet at several locations throughout London. The Hillsong I visited meets in the Dominion Theatre in London's West End. Built in 1928-29, the Dominion is the work of W & T R Milburn, Architects, who designed hundreds of theatres, cinemas, music halls, pubs, hotels, shops, and industrial buildings throughout England. Intended as a venue for live shows right from the start, the Dominion has hosted dozens of legendary shows over the years, including the Judy Garland Show, Grease, Scrooge: The Musical, and Beauty and the Beast, to name only a few. The musical We Will Rock You has been running at the theatre since 2002 and has been extended indefinitely. It is a big building and has been renovated over the years, with recent renovations intended to restore several features repurposed over time. Hillsong Church makes full use of the theatre's dramatic blue, red, yellow, even pink lights!

The church

They are involved in a number of activities, including Connect Groups, billed on their website as "a great place to hang out, share a meal, chat about life and pray for each other." Hillsong Kids, billed as "children's expression of Hillsong Church," "exists to help make church accessible for our youngest and most precious people." They sponsor a number of conferences "to champion the cause of the local Church across the earth" in the hope that "God will again unleash His goodness, power and anointing." There are four services at the Dominion venue each Sunday, in the morning, afternoon and evening.

The neighborhood

London's West End is the site of many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings, and entertainment venues. Tottenham Court Road is a major thoroughfare and a significant shopping street especially for furniture and electronics. The Dominion Theatre is near a tube and the area is very busy, with many shops, cars and busses up the road. There are also many restaurants.

The cast

Reuben Morgan, worship pastor. The speaker was Priscilla Shirer, an American who has spent more than a decade addressing major corporations, organizations and Christian audiences across the United States and around the world.

What was the name of the service?

Evening Service.

How full was the building?

The capacity of the building is said to be about 2200, and it was quite full, very busy.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

A woman welcomed me and was very kind to me.

Was your pew comfortable?

There were no pews, as it was in a theatre. The red upholstered folding theatre seats were comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

There was much music before the service started and many people were chatting. It was very noisy and busy.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Jesus is the Son of God. God sent him from heaven, and back to heaven. Let us pray."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

We did not get any books, but the song words were projected up high on the screen for us to sing.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano, guitar, bass and drums.

Did anything distract you?

I was standing for ages as we sang and so I had a pain in my leg.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

The worship was noisy, very modern. Most people were dancing and clapping and waving their hands.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

40 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 – Priscilla Shirer was forceful and had many relevant stories that were funny sometimes.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

She spoke about what we could learn from the children of Israel just before they crossed over the Red Sea as they were escaping from the Egyptians. They were encouraged to wait on the Lord, to be still and not be afraid, but to trust in God. We should see the salvation of God. We should walk with our eyes on Jesus. See the victory God has given us and his promises for us. Have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

We were singing and feeling close to God. That felt like being in heaven.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

My legs were hurting from so much standing!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

A few people spoke to me as they were all going out.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There were no tea of coffee, so everyone left.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

5 – I appreciated the enthusiasm but there were far too many people there for me to feel any personal sense of belonging.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes. I felt glad to be a Christian with the Bibles and songs and the good preaching.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

Over 2000 people going to a theatre to be in church.

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