Part of the reason that Hillsong’s music has been so popular

Part of the reason that Hillsong’s music has been so popular is that it’s meant to be. “You can come up with a pop song, it doesn’t matter what it’s about. If it sounds good and feels good, that’s great. For us, you’re putting words into the mouths of people. These songs are written for people to sing, not just to listen to,” Houston says in Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, a documentary made in partnership with Hillsong Church. Hillsong aren’t just writing songs for one congregation in Sydney; like any major pop star, they’re writing songs that are meant to sit at the top of a chart and be heard across the world.

“It’s not so much the music that’s important but the purpose behind the music,” Melodie Wagner-Mäkinen, a singer-songwriter in Hillsong Young & Free, told me. The purpose behind the music is the gospel that Hillsong music team members believe will save the souls of their listeners and, hopefully, the world: that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and he died to save humanity from eternal damnation.

Many Christians believe that a section in Matthew 28 (dubbed “the Great Commission) commands them to proclaim their beliefs to every corner of the world — the central belief of all evangelical movements. If Hillsong can “create music that points people to a greater hope and future,” as Wagner-Mäkinen says, they’ll have achieved their mission. According to the church’s 2017 annual report, 33,000 people converted
to Christianity at Hillsong events last year.