Here's a thought.
Let me say upfront: I certainly have problems with the Hillsong movement. I always have. This is not new or a surprise to those who have known me. I used to be militant in my critique of them. I have mellowed a little over the years, thinking soberly of Paul's comment in 1 Corinthians 3 that 'God judges each person's work', and 'the day bringing it to light.' I also found helpful Jeremiah 23:28-29:
Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD. "Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
So what is my problem with Hillsong?
It isn't that they are always doctrinally incorrect (They aren't, and I have heard a sermon from the youth team that was a good and valid exegesis of Romans 7). It isn't just the money and prosperity stuff (although there are major major issues here.) It isn't that they aren't passionate and it isn't that there aren't great people there (there are many many wonderful people serving there). And it certainly isn't that 'they' don't believe in the Gospel (the ones I know who go there do.)
Here is my biggest problem:
Lack of discernment.
I've been a few times. I've got great friends who are or who have been there. I've read lots, and listened to their messages. I may be wrong, and am happy to be corrected, but one week you'll receive something good; the next, something weird. At one conference, you'll get a good speaker; then next up someone odd. One week, you'll get the promises about prosperity, with verses (used spuriously) to introduce a giving time; the next nothing on the topic. One week will be about Jesus' death, then next will be all about You.
I think that this accounts for some of the confusion we have. It is also a reason many are giving them a free pass. You'll hear people say that it was good when they visited Hillsong, and that they heard nothing inappropriate. And then someone else will go another week, and they will recount some theological and pastoral horror story. You'll go to the conference and hear relatively orthodox speakers like Bill Hybels, and then you'll get TD Jakes! You'll get some music that has little substance, and then some that elevates Christ and his blood shed on the Cross. You'll get great work with the poor, and then news of an investment scandal.
I had some correspondence recently with a friend who is very sympathetic to Hillsong who said that they have heard 4 Hillsong sermons, of which 3 were good, and one dismal. (And by dismal, I don't mean boring).
Now, I don't think that our meetings are always theological and pastorally good. Not at all. I know profoundly how much we get it wrong, and it pains me when we do. But if discernment goes out the door -- in favor of passion and music and the elation -- then the game is over.
Here is the thing: To me, lack of discernment in a church is like bribery in the police force. If you tolerate it at any level, the whole organization becomes tainted. Even the good parts. And that makes me more sad than it does mad.
Hopefully every movement's excesses will be curbed by increasing accountability.
Happy to be challenged on this. (But no anonymous comments allowed on this one)