My question is who and what are religion and challenge to? I don't see myself as a defender of religion but I do believe in church and its potential in Australia. It is a mistake to trivialise the emergence of new evangelical or contemporary churches (to try and paint our message as one dimensional or an over emphasis on money).
Mega Churches are springing up in all of Australia's capital cities.
Many in the media in politics and in some sections of the church have been surprised at the emergence of these churches as it belies statistics pointing to a general decline in religious faith.
The church is left with two choices in the face of irrelevance and decline:
The message is sacred but methods have to change.
The church should be:
I believe you will never appreciate the value of churches such as Hillsong if you ignore the spiritual transformation occurring in individual's lives.
I believe Christians must recognise their responsibility to make a difference. ie. look beyond our own tables and see other people's tables. Our message is not one of personal wealth but of personal effectiveness.
The outworking of this message can be seen through the fact that Hillsong Church contributed $500,000.00 in the first two Sundays of the year toward Tsunami recovery in Southern India and Sri Lanka amongst many other initiatives.
It is interesting that the media who are so quick to write their perceptions of Hillsong, have tended to completely ignore the myriad of good works and community programs in which the church is involved.
I believe that Christians have as much right to be involved in the future direction of the country as any other sector of society. We must recognise the difference between churches such as Hillsong encouraging individual Christians to be involved in politics and the church itself being involved.
Politics and the Church are hopefully both motivated by the desire for justice and the commitment to bring change for the better.
Politics bring change by reform but can't change people's hearts.
Are moral values the new politics? I shudder at the thought of politics without moral values.
This is a summary of a presentation given by Brian Houston, Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, at the Fabian Society's NSW Branch seminar, "Are moral values the new politics?" at NSW Parliament House on 22 June 2005.