Pastor Carl Lentz has expressed joy over the growth of Hillsong NYC, revealing that his ministry continues to expand so rapidly, it's becoming increasingly difficult to fit everyone into a single building.
On Friday, Lentz took to Instagram to share with his 336k followers a photo of a line of people standing down a New York City block.
"Last night @hillsongnyc was special and typical.. This photo encapsulates the heart of our church.. When churches have buildings they own, it's easy to take for granted how convenient it is to simply have meetings! We have never known that.. Every meeting we have ever had, we have to rent a venue. Pay for it. And it's never big enough! So waiting in a line, to get into an overcrowded room where you just might have to stand the whole time, becomes a normal thing. It's literally a choice to be inconvenienced..We have had people leave our church from time to time and say 'You know what, I just want to be somewhere smaller.' Not realizing the new place they choose to go, has the same desire to grow!! It just hasn't happened yet, or at the same 'speed'..I refuse to be a Christian that asks to be delivered from my own prayer requests.. 'God bring revival to NYC!!' And then when He does, resent what I used to rejoice about.. No way," Lentz wrote.
"Last night, hundreds of people couldn't get into our first service. So they waited two hours to be a part of the 'second' one..who knows, perhaps someday soon we will have our own building. But I will never forget THESE DAYS. I'm thankful for the amazing people in our church. I'll tell you that! When comfort calls? They hang up the phone.. May that be said of all of us! Special thanks to our staff of 18 PEOPLE, that do more and carry more and graciously accept the love and complaints of people who will never know just what this road is like! You are the greatest. #occupyallstreets" he added.
Headquartered in Sydney, Hillsong Church has an ever-expanding footprint of churches that circle the globe, with three U.S. sites - New York City, Los Angeles and most recently in Phoenix, Arizona. Hillsong's reach extends across 14 countries and five continents, and it boasts an average weekly attendance worldwide near 100,000, according to its website.
Hillsong NYC church is attended by a number of celebrities, including Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens, among others.
But despite his reputation as a "celebrity preacher," the 35-year-old husband and father of three is strikingly humble, crediting Hillsong NYC's success to the power of the Gospel.
"For us, we're trying to tell people that this is a relationship with the living God that you can have," he told The Gospel Herald. "You don't have to do it; you get to do it. When people start to hear that language, their ears perk up a little bit, because maybe they were raised in a church where you had to do this, or you had to go there. We're saying, 'No, let me tell you about Jesus first and what the Gospel is about.' This isn't about bad people getting good, it's about dead people coming to life. Who's not interested in that?"
When asked the secret to the church's tremendous success - particularly as weekly attendance is on the decline in most churches across the country - Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston explained to The Gospel Herald that church leaders strive to present the timeless message of the Gospel in a way that resonates with the average individual.
"[With] everything going on in the world, people do still have a deep desire to connect with something greater, I believe, God - Jesus." he said. "I I just think if you can take an old message and have it framed in a way where the message is the same but the way that it's received by people is just absolutely relevant to their world - I think people are looking for authenticity."