- Religion and Philosophy
Hillsong Church and the Catholic Church
Recently, I attended a service in NYC downtown at the Irving Plaza. It was an exhilarating experience which I would like to share. Being Catholic, I wanted to see what was the attraction of this new Church. It started in Australia and now it is going global all over the world including NYC and LA.
Welcome Stage at Irving Plaza
Having been to a Hillsong service, I can see the attraction for many especially the young. The entrance is full of volunteers with smiling faces which makes everyone that enters feel welcomed. The stage is well lit with spotlights and the sound system fantastic. A large video screen shows some slides of members around the world of all races and nations. When the songs are performing, the lyrics are displayed on the big screen so that anyone can follow and sing along if they choose. The pastor has a soothing voice and speak to the heart. He has a very simple message and he knows how to communicate by following some simple rules. Repetition of a simple phrase over the course of the sermon drives his message home.
Live Music is Center to the Service
What Can be Learned and Adopted
I am a Catholic and I like my church and I try to attend the Mass on a weekly basis. I like the fact that they are consistent from week to week, season to season. No matter where I go around the world, I can follow the format of the Mass even if I don't speak the local language. In fact the word "catholic" means "Universal."
However, the attendance of Mass have declined in recent years. There are many factors such as an aging population, the decline of young people entering the priesthood and an increasing secular society that tends to minimize the importance of faith and religion. The Mass has become a ritual and lacked a certain amount of energy. It is old and archaic and lacks the modern technology that many young people are so familiar with.
The following are a few suggestions that may help Catholic Churches to improve their standing.
They are simple and may require some investment up front. If it can help bring in more young people, they should be considered by the Church and the parish councils.
- Have more volunteers of all ages serve as greeters by the entrance. (with a smile)
- Add some modern lighting to the front of the church.
- Install a modern sound system for the music and the priest.
- Install some large video screens on each side of the church so that the parishioners can follow the music without flipping through books.
- Institute an easy way for parishioners to make donations. (online or via text)
- Keep the homily simple but relevant to the local parish and relate to each person. Stay engaged on current issues as happening in the news. (for example, I was surprised the church made no mention of the ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue of Gay marriage)
- Stay positive and upbeat with music and words and give people a sense of belonging.
- At the end of the service, meet and greet the parishioners and don't worry about collecting notes from children. (which in our parish was adopted to insure CCD students attend Mass)
Attending Mass (notice the age of typical parishioners)
As a Christian, I am happy for the success of Hillsong as a growing Christian church. Their success is our success as all Christians celebrate around the world the message of Jesus. I would like our Catholic Church to follow in their example in trying to reach a younger audience. They are our future and we need to reach out to them and help them in their journey of faith. Peace be with you.
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