In February 2017, I wrote what turned out to be my most read and engaged with post on my blog as pastors and churches all over Perth heard the news that Hillsong was launching a campus in Perth.
Hillsong Perth have now launched their campus in Perth and recently celebrated their 1st anniversary. In that time they have established a growing congregation meeting at the University of Western Australia, seen multiple baptisms, led people to Jesus and seen people grow in their faith and community.
Some people may wonder why Perth needs another church. I personally feel that Hillsong Perth have added a much needed element to the Church landscape in our city. They are a vibrant, creative and social media savvy Church. Everything they do is done with a contemporary flavour and a relevance that informs other churches. Personally I believe that the humble observer can use Hillsong Perth’s example to challenge the status quo of their own church for the better.
Like many in Perth I have visited their Sunday service to see how they have been building community and reaching out to the community. Whatever your particular culture, whatever music you use, whatever demographic you are targetting, I believe Hillsong have some adaptable values and practices which are worth emulating. We noticed the abundant signage. At my own church we have had visitors remark how difficult it was to find basic amenities. I looked at the clear and well branded signage and have made changes at Inglewood Church They also have teams of greeters. Sometimes we tend to allow people just to find their own seat. In fact it was nice as a visitor to have someone help you find a seat. You did not have to think about it. They were well trained, big smiles and made you feel at home. What is fascinating about Hillsong is how the church feels very similar to every other Hillsong Church I have visited.
One lovely afternoon I met with their campus pastor Chrishan Jeyaratnam for coffee and a chat. What I discovered was a gracious, humble, missional and passionate man. I asked him how they had transferred such a positive culture across the nation, and indeed across the world. His comment was that culture was caught as much as taught. The welcoming attitude starts with the leaders and permeates throughout the church. It was two hours I treasured as I peppered him with questions on church growth, raising up leaders, creativity and the general values of Hillsong which has seen it be the incredibly influential church it is. He was so generous with his time and vulnerability.
Twelve months on the churches in Perth have not seen a mass exodus out their doors into Hillsong Perth. What we have seen is a valuable addition to what God is doing in our city.