Chris Tomlin and Hillsong Tour Removes ‘VIP Ticket Packages’ Amid Backlash

The megaworship concert featuring Chris Tomlin and Hillsong has dialed back some of the more nakedly commercial aspects of their upcoming worship tour, with Premiere Productions, the organization in charge of tickets and putting on the event, pulling one of the add-ons and rebranding them as ‘Experience packages’ rather than ‘VIP experiences, followng backlash on social media. See the before/ after pictures;/

We had previously written:

For an event supposed to be designed to worship the Lord, this reeks of money-lovin’ and mammon-grubbin’ commercialism, offering multiple perks and add-on’s such as closer seats to the band, gifts, merch, lanyards, the ability to shop for merch early, early check-in with a host, and some degree of access to bands so you can bask in their presence. We support any band hocking their wares, as capitalism is a gift from God. But the fact that this is a worship event makes it feel unseemly.

We reached out to Hillsong and Tomlin’s reps but have not received a response.

Premiere Christianity, which has been covering the story, had a nice op-ed from Tom Read, where he writes:

“Looking through the various options available (of which there are a few), I can’t help but wonder: how could anyone think that this is a good idea in the context of worship? Many of us are well aware that the worship music industry has a thinly-veiled but dark underbelly of commercialism. But here, they don’t even seem to be trying to hide it anymore. Worship music, and much of the contemporary church, has a celebrity problem. And it’s about time we started talking about it…

MODERN-DAY WORSHIP HAS BECOME SO CORRUPT THAT I HAVE LITTLE DOUBT THAT JESUS WOULD FLIP THE TABLES ON MUCH OF IT

Looking at this latest offer through even the most charitable eyes, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a money-making opportunity…What about worship concerts then? Should we ever pay to attend a worship event? Some people argue that worshipping God should always be free.

While I don’t disagree with this opinion, I do think there is also a strong (and biblical) argument to be made for artists and ministers being fairly paid for what they do. This is certainly the case when it comes to covering the costs of events and other projects. But let’s be honest, there’s a significant difference between paying an artist for their work and buying VIP tickets so you can have a photo on a catwalk at a worship event. What is so problematic here is the leveraging of the worship of God for the creation of personal fame and fortune…

Visibility matters. Leaders have a responsibility to set an example they would be proud for people to follow. Are Christian VIP experiences something we really want to encourage? 



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