Hey all, it’s been awhile but I finally found some interesting news that has nothing to do with Covid-19, the 2020 elections, or racism. So, hoping today’s #CurrentEventFriday is interesting for you to read and contemplate today. Although, for the subject of today’s post, I’m sure that it’s not interesting or pleasant given the unwelcome news given to them.
Carl Lentz, the lead pastor of Hillsong East was relieved of his duties by Brian Houston, founder and director of Hillsong Ministries. Lentz came to prominence in his role as the pastor of the New York City campus of Hillsong when pop star Justin Bieber highlighted him. Lentz has used the prominence and celebrity proximity to gather a large following on social media, and snippets of his sermons have been shared thousands of times.
In a letter shared this week, Houston indicated that Lentz was being dismissed for leadership issues and revelations of ‘moral failures’ but would not elaborate on what these failures were. On Lentz’s Instagram addressing the issue, he clarified that he had been unfaithful in his marriage. Lentz’s stances on controversial topics have drawn criticism from evangelicals who labeled Lentz as too worldly and preaching sermons that tickle the ears of believers. Lentz has dismissed the criticisms, claiming they were true convictions and the attacks on his hipster appearance and contemporary attitude were unnecessary.
For what it’s worth, I’ve seen a few of the clips of Lentz, and as pastor myself I wasn’t exactly impressed by his hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation bias) and modern take on Christianity. I try to be honest about my perspective of interpretation but am not particularly worried about popularity with the congregation or the audience outside my church walls. Lentz is popular enough like Joel Osteen minus the promises of wealth, but not really worried about faithfulness to the text, but sloganeering.
Hillsong’s organization has been connected to much of the evangelical millennial Christianity of the last couple of decades since beginning in Australia. Popular Christian music artists like Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Lauren Daigle have worked with Hillsong and Passion to popularize the evangelical expression of millennial Christianity during their arena events. Lentz has been featured at some of these events, but Houston and other leaders in the organization are featured more often.
The firing of Carl Lentz isn’t a reason to celebrate but could be a time to focus on himself and ministry. Although, given Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle attract clout on social media and are not defined by an organization that employs them, Lentz may just create his own organization to promote his brand. Hopefully, Lentz will also take time and spend with his family and simplify things. Regardless, Christians should pray for Lentz and his family that God’s will would be done, including healing and reconciliation.
Have you watched Carl Lentz’s sermons?