Hillsong interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley carved out some time during his service to take some shots at the new Discovery+ docuseries about their church, accusing the producers of having the intended goal of hurting them, without appreciating their contributions.
Two weeks ago, the Discovery Channel dropped their trailer for ‘Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed’ series, the first of two secular produced shows that will document the rise and fall of Hillsong NYC. The church, which counted celebrities and athletes among their members, was rocked by a series of scandals featuring out-of-control behavior by their pastors and elders, culminating in lead pastor Carl Lentz being exposed as having a 5 month-long affair, one of several, that resulted in his firing and the implosion at what was once considered the coolest church in the world.
The 3-part investigatory docuseries, which will be released March 24 and will feature, among other things, never-before-seen footage that the disgraced Lentz that he sent his mistress.
“There are those who don’t like the church. There are those who are against what God’s doing. We have a few Sanballat’s and Tobiah’s (Ed. Note. Two people who opposed Nehemiah rebuilding the wall) to deal with ourselves and we felt the pain of that. Sadly there is a documentary about our church coming out soon, surprise surprise, and that picture it paints is far removed from I believe the truth of who we are as a church. There are people who have been hurt by their experience in our church and that saddens me. For those people, I say ‘we’re deeply sorry and we pray that you’ll find healing’, But there are also producers behind this documentary and their purpose is not the healing of people, but simply to hurt the church.”
It is telling however that he frames it as ‘people who have been hurt by their experience in our church’ rather than ‘people we have hurt through our hypocrisy in the church’. The former is basically no different than apologizing by saying “I’m sorry you were offended.” There is much less culpability there.
Dooley then goes to recount, frequently with voice cracking and sounding on the edge of tears, all the works of their mercy their church does, from helping support disadvantaged and disabled children in schools to partnering with Compassion to sponsor children, to teaching kids digital skills, to welcoming and sponsoring Syrian refugees new to the country, to helping lift children out of poverty who live in dumps in India.
I wish that was the exposé because that’s the church that I know. It’s never claimed to be a perfect church, I’ve been part of this church for over 30 years… I’m taking a little bit of time today but I think it’s important because I know our church is not perfect and it’s never claimed to be. But our church is full of good people doing their best to love Jesus and follow him, who are determined to grow in their faith and raise their family well and do their very best to make a positive contribution to the community they live in. To pursue their dreams and serve and love others and have a little bit of fun along the way, because that’s okay as well guys.
Dooley and his wife Lucinda, who formerly pastored Hillsong Church Cape Town, have taken over the role of head of the Global Hillsong Church from Brian and Bobbie Houston, the former who stepped down while under investigation that he helped cover up the sexual abuse of a minor from his pedophile dad.