I remember meeting Brian Houston and Carl Lentz back several years ago at Wave Church Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They were speaking in the USA while making their way towards NYC.
WHY NYC? Because they were planting a church in the US for the first time. It was going to be a year or two out. But the enthusiasm swelled so quickly that they ended up launching much sooner than they anticipated to lines around the block.
What kind of church has lines and ticketing to get in in today’s world?
Say hello to Hillsong NYC.
Right from the beginning, this church has understood how to attract today’s generation. They are connecting in ways that most of the old-line denomination churches haven’t figured out yet.
A couple of years ago, they opened another location here in New Jersey.
Every Sunday there two services at the Welmont Theater in Montclair New Jersey.
Having attended several times, I can tell you there is definitely intentionality in how they move through the service from beginning to end.
The growth continues well after the initial launch. If you visit, you can understand quickly why.
3 things that Hillsong Church is doing to grow:
1. THEY ACKNOWLEDGE VISITOR-CENTRIC VIEWS THROUGHOUT THE SERVICE.
All of the hosting from the stage whether it be the Welcome, Offering, or other parts (including giving out free gifts from the stage to visitors who have only come 1, 2, or 3 times to date), are spoken with language that explicitly calls out that you may be a new visitor.
It helps set expectations, lowers anxiety about what’s happening now or next in the service, etc.
Even as you leave the service, there are tons of volunteers and staff holding up free Bibles (cool paperback Bibles that don’t look like old school Bibles) for you to take with you. The point is they make it easy for you to get on board.
2. THERE IS AN ALTER CALL IN EVERY SERVICE.
The point here isn’t that they insert an altar call into the order of service.
The point is that the entire service seems to be oriented for that first time visitor or person who is questioning Jesus.
This essentially means the entire worship service is presented so that the lens of the outsider makes sense. While you might think there is a Holy Huddle, the Hillsong team does a great job to acknowledge the new church goer at various points.
By the time the altar call is made, it is a natural milestone in the service.
3. THEY SPELL OUT NEXT STEP OPTIONS CLEARLY.
Both are in the corporate prayer time, and at the end of the service after that also called before dismissal, they put explicit details up on the screen so there is clarity on what they are asking you to do from the stage.
If you were not able to follow along with the horses and saying, this is a great reminder especially for homes that do you want to take the next step, but don’t want to be embarrassed about knowing who to ask, what to ask, etc.
Again, they make it as easy as possible for you to get on board.
What is clear overall is that they are not in a holy huddle. This church service is built in a way that acknowledges, welcomes and guides new visitors along throughout the service from end to end.
That is why people return and why the church is growing.