It’s the Australian church that’s taken Hollywood by storm, and with celebs like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez singing its praises, Hillsong is set for even more attention.
Founded in Sydney 35 years ago by husband-and-wife team Brian and Bobbie Houston, the contemporary Christian church has branches in 21 countries and an average of almost 112,000 people at weekly services. Many celebs attend: Justin, Selena and the Kardashians are frequent visitors in LA and New York.
On Easter Sunday, Justin shared an Instagram post about his religious beliefs: “Jesus has changed my life. Easter is not about a bunny, it’s a reminder that my Jesus died on the cross for my sins and then rose from the dead.”
While Brian and Bobbie Houston’s son Ben and daughter-in-law Lucille are the lead pastors of Hillsong LA, the lead pastor at New York and New Jersey is Carl Lentz, who has become a close confidant to many stars.
In fact, he was thought to be the driving force behind Justin and Selena’s latest reunion, offering them guidance in their relationship. One thing the on-off couple have always had in common is their shared belief and, in turn, a love of Hillsong.
Since having an epiphany that religion could help him clean up his pop-brat image, reformed bad boy Justin, 24, has grown more and more attached to Hillsong and Carl, even allowing the pastor to baptise him in 2014.
“I was pretty lost and woke up one day and felt like God was telling me something,” he said.
Carl says of Justin’s Hillsong involvement, “I think he’s dedicated to being a Christian and he has a community in our church and some other places that really give him strength.
“He’s worked really hard to put himself in a position to be the best Justin he can be, and I’m proud of him.”
On a path to finding her best self after a life-threatening kidney transplant, Selena, 25, is equally open about her connection to God, and has been spotted carrying a Bible around in the wake of her
split from Justin.
“I know if I didn’t have the faith I had I wouldn’t have gotten through some of the hardest times in my life,” says Selena, who made the trip to Australia recently just to attend a Hillsong conference.
Interest in the church has spread throughout Tinseltown. Justin introduced his former fling Kourtney Kardashian to Hillsong.
Selena’s friends Nick Jonas and Vanessa Hudgens have also been part of the congregation, and Hailey Baldwin, Chris Pratt and Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been spotted at services.
With so much celebrity endorsement and services taking place in hip music venues, Hillsong is undoubtedly the coolest Christian church around – and with new branches continuing to open across the globe, it’s very much on the rise.
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