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Hillsong's Gary Clarke on coronavirus and moving church from a West End theatre to his living room

by Marcus Jones

Over the past few years, Hillsong London has rapidly grown into one of the country's biggest churches. With several services at London's Dominion Theatre, it's also planted congregations across the country. Known for its high tempo worship and live experience, the Government's decision to prevent acts of public worship has forced the church to rethink its presentation.

Speaking to Premier about the changes that every church in the country has had to grapple with, lead pastor Gary Clarke said he was clear from start the direction he wanted to take. 

"I'm very happy with it all, in the context of what's happening. 

"I decided right from upfront, no matter how this played out, I wanted to do church in the moment - not a pre-recorded series of messages and things like that. I wanted us to be able to, as a church, say we still gather together. 

"We can't do it in one room but we can all do it at the same time and let's speak into the moment of what's going on in the world where we are living in."

While Sunday attendance is around 12,000 across its services, its March 22nd offering via Youtube was viewed 39,000 times.

Its specialist youth and children's services are also getting thousands of views.

"We've seen a lot of people connecting in," Clarke said. "I think a lot of people have been able to say to a friend, 'here's a link to church on Sunday - why don't you check in and see what it's about'. So we're seeing a lot of increase. I think people are thinking about friends and family that don't know the Lord and saying, 'here's something to check out, something to consider'."

Clarke thinks more people are open to discussing matters of faith as the world enters a dark period.

"This is forcing everybody to really sit back and reflect on life I think. What really matters, what's important. People are generally within themselves very open to the deeper conversations and are exploring them."

Through the online services Hillsong London is focussing on the words of Jesus telling people to "not let your hearts be troubled". Watch Gary Clarke explain what that means in today's context.


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