Organized religion is at an all-time low worldwide. Congregations are hemorrhaging parishioners with confidence in the Church flagging in the U.S. at unprecedented rates. Yet you wouldn’t know that by looking at Hillsong U.S.A. The American outpost of an Australian Pentecostal megachurch founded by Brian and Bobbi Houston in the ’80s, Hillsong’s New York flagship is shepherded by the charismatic Carl Lentz.
Known colloquially as Justin Bieber’s spiritual advisor, Lentz draws upwards of 8,000 New Yorkers to his Sunday night service held at Hammerstein Ballroom. Deploying an infectious format of short sermons and lots of dynamic, ear-wormy music, Lentz’s message may be the same as your regular fire-and-brimstone bible thumper but his social media clout makes his message infinitely more seductive. His relevancy amongst youth has gone as far as to grant him meetings with Oprah and the White House.
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