Hipster Church with Pastor Carl Lentz Brings in Huge Crowds in New York City

The pastor of Hillsong Church, Carl Lentz, is not your typical pastor. CNN’s Alexandra Field reports.

Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal megachurch affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God) and located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

In addition to New York, Hillsong Church’s international offshoots include Hillsong Church London, in the United Kingdom, Hillsong Church Kiev in Ukraine, Hillsong Church Cape Town and Hillsong Church Pretoria in South Africa, Hillsong Church Stockholm in Sweden.

The Hipster Handbook — a satirical guide to hipster culture by Williamsburg, Brooklyn author Robert Lanham — described hipsters as young people with “mop-top haircuts, swinging retro pocketbooks, talking on cell phones, smoking European cigarettes… strutting in platform shoes with a biography of Che Guevara sticking out of their bags.” Mark Greif, co-founder and co-editor of the magazine n+1, which publishes social criticism, political commentary and more, describes hipsters as bartenders and boutique clerks, struggling to rise in social hierarchy, but who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists.

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Hipster church probably takes one more step toward renewal, and probably attracts people frustrated in attempts to climb the social hierarchy without the means, and in an unstable and uncertain economy.

Historically, Pentecostals work on purification to attain spiritual gifts, such as Speaking in Tongues. Believers in Speaking in Tongues, prominently practiced among members of Pentecostal churches, believe that the “ability” is a gift from God.

Hillsong Church Pastor Carl Lentz rubs elbows with Justin Bieber.

Snake handling or serpent handling is a religious ritual in a small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S., usually characterized as rural and part of the Holiness movement. The practice began in the early 20th century in the Appalachian Mountains. The Holiness movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley’s “Christian perfection” teaching—the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin, and particularly by the belief that this may be accomplished instantaneously through a second work of grace, which is considered to be a cleansing from the tendency to commit sin and development to Christian perfection or “sanctification.” Believers in Speaking in Tongues believe that it is gift from God. Believers in snake handling believe the ability is a gift or sign of strength from God.

And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

— Mark 16:17-18

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

— Luke 10:19

In 1998, snake-handling evangelist John Wayne “Punkin” Brown died from a timber rattlesnake bite at the Rock House Holiness Church in rural northeastern Alabama. Other snake handlers have also been killed by poisonous snake bites. Many states have laws that require permits to handle venomous snakes or forbid snake handling in religious services. Many snake handling services take place in private homes to avoid prosecution.

Jimmy Lee Swaggart is a Pentecostal pastor and televangelist, who was caught up in at least two sex scandals involving prostitutes. Oral Roberts and Jim Bakker are also on record as Pentecostal pastors.

Oh, and Kevin Durant is 6’9″. Not a seven-footer.

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