Elle Hardy has a good article on Hillsong’s Green Room Problem, by which she means: “The rot at the core of the Australian megachurch was obvious to anyone who spent time backstage.”
After interviewing several people who were inside the Hillsong network, Hardy writes:
According to three sources who spent time in Australian and American Hillsong green rooms, pastors often had riders explicitly outlining what should be provided for them backstage. After a sermon of a conference speech, pastors could be seen backstage congregating with celebrities over tequila. It wasn’t unusual to see envelopes of cash or prepaid expense cards handed about. Volunteers became accustomed to requests such as finding a better car for chauffeuring preachers and guests around town, or last-minute requests to carpet the stage because the pastor’s wife had bought new heels.
If even a smidgeon of this is true, it is a damning indictment, not just on Hillsong, but anywhere where there is a celebrity culture.
Now, to be completely honest, I have been in a couple of churches with “Green Rooms,” but it was rather low-key, usually just a small room, with a couple of chairs, a table with a couple of glasses of water, and maybe some doughnuts if you were lucky. Nothing flash. For many churches, I guess they want to emulate the excellence of a professional production and a Green Room is supposed to be one of the “things” you have if you’re doing a professional production. I get that.
But there is a difference between high production values and shall we say Hollywood values. Sadly the former can lead to the latter. That is to say, if you start treating people like spoiled celebrities, they will start acting like spoiled celebrities. A church needs to think of itself as a holy host for a guest preacher, not as a Fredo Corleone, a morally vacuous person who will arrange for all of your needs to be met even if the lurch into the tawdry.
Maybe its time to swap the Green Room for a Vestry.
For those who don’t know, a vestry is a room behind the stage, where pre-worship business is conducted. It is where one dresses in vestments, prepares the elements for the Lord’s Supper, or finalizes the order of service. A vestry is also a place of prayer, preparation, meditation, and encouragement.
Whereas a Green Room is about celebrity worship, a vestry is for divine worship.
Whereas a Green Room is about indulgence, a vestry is a place for ascetic discipline.
Whereas a Green Room is about partying, a vestry is a room for prayer.
Whereas a Green Room concerns itself with the celebrity, the vestry prepares us to lead people in the worship of God.
Maybe we should turn our Green Rooms into Vestries!
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"For those who don’t know, a vestry is a room behind the stage ..."
Stage? I think we've identified a more foundational problem than the "green room."
This is all interesting to me. I have learned that the temple, or house church or whatever place, is a place were God’s presence is invoked and acknowledged and the congregants focus is to worship him. If that is true, everything must be done with utmost reverence and holiness.
So, I think that the whole building is to be considered a vestry where congregants, along with the priests or ministers, come to pray, meditate, encourage one another, and prepare for divine worship.