The last few years gave been grueling for Hillsong. The enormous and influential megachurch enjoyed a season of cultural dominance, courting famous congregants like Justin Bieber, Vanessa Hudgens and Kevin Durant. But when Hillsong New York’s former pastor Carl Lenz stepped down following revelations of an extramarital affair, things started to go south quickly. Now, Hillsong co-founder Brian Houston has temporarily stepped aside as global senior pastor while facing charges that he did not alert the authorities about his father’s sexual abuse crimes. As other pastors step aside from leadership and the church fends off allegations of abuse, Discovery Plus is readying its three-part documentary on the church. It’s called Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.
Most of the trailer seems to focus on Lenz. Ranin Karim, the woman who Lenz had an affair with, goes on record with her story and shares some of their correspondence. Former church members detail their own experiences at Hillsong, and how they felt hurt or betrayed by people in leadership. “This was going to be a place where I could call my home,” one woman says. “But that clearly wasn’t the case, and it almost took my life.”
It’s the second such documentary to drop. The BBC’s Hillsong Church: God Goes Viral also presented an unflattering perspective on the church’s impact, and Hillsong took issue with the depiction.”Most of the footage that demonstrated the positive impacts of our church were relegated to the cutting room floor and erased from the final cut of the documentary,” Hillsong wrote in a statement. “We strongly refute the many aspects of the film that fail to meet a basic level of journalistic integrity and a commitment to the truth.”