The Secrets of Hillsong Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
The first episode talks about Hillsong and Lentz and how the Pentecostal ministry, founded in Australia in the late 1980s by Brian and Bobbie Houston, grew into a worldwide phenomenon by offering a service and message that was modern, seemingly inclusive, and felt as much like a concert than it did a church service. Lentz, who helped co-found the New York branch with the Houstons’ son Joel in 2010, was the charismatic pastor who dressed in skinny jeans and deep-Ved t-shirts and was seen being the spiritual counsel to celebrities like Justin Bieber.
But through interviews with parishioners and journalists like Vanity Fair‘s Alex French and Dan Adler, the church’s modern services, that included rock and hip hop music and drew millennial-aged followers by the thousands, hid a good old fashioned Pentecostal ministry, one that spoke in tongues and many of the other fire-and-brimstone services you see in news stories. In the many interviews he gave, he tended to step around issues like gay marriage and abortion in an effort to be inclusive. But then Houston clarified the church’s conservative stance on those issues, alienating many parishioners.
Another issue was the fact that the church ran on the efforts of unpaid volunteers, some of which did so many hours that they couldn’t hold full-time jobs. While some volunteers benefitted from their work, especially given the massive amounts of money the church was pulling in from parishioners’ tithing and other contributions, but others started to feel exploited.
The massively popular Lentz was suddenly fired by Hillsong in 2020, ostensibly because he admitted he had an affair. But while the Houstons focused on Lentz as the symbol for what needed to be fixed with Hillsong, the Houstons themselves were coming under scrutiny.
Stylistically, The Secrets Of Hillsong is pretty straightforward: Lots of footage from Hillsong services, media coverage and interviews Lentz gave to everyone from podcasters to Oprah Winfrey, and talking head interviews. But the series does an effective job of setting up just what made Hillsong so popular in the early 2010s, especially as it came to New York, its first American branch, and quickly spread.
We don’t get to see an interview with Lentz, which is the centerpiece of the docuseries, until the end of the first episode. That’s a convention we’ve seen many times, because it builds drama. But we see so much of Lentz in the archival footage that the “Wow, they actually interviewed this guy!” moment is blunted a bit. But we’ll trade that for getting a really solid picture of who Lentz is, or at least who he portrayed himself to be, and why he attracted so many people to Hillsong.
The series is mostly based on French and Adler’s reporting , and there does seem to be an undertone of incredulity to both the reporting and Lee’s direction. Not as much about Lentz; while “Mama Jones”, one of the oldest parishioners, does say in her interview that Lentz could cry on cue, it still shows Lentz as a genuinely charming presence who was mostly a force for good. But the rest of the episode starts to veer Hillsong’s story into cult territory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; there are many cult-like aspects to megachurches like Hillsong. But we wonder if, because of the access they got to the Lentzes, that they’ll come off much better than the Houstons in this series.