The streaming platform Discovery+ has just released a trailer for a three-part docuseries on Hillsong Church, chronicling the rise — and subsequent fall — of its former New York-based pastor, Carl Lentz.
“Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed” centers on Lentz’s leadership style and the celebrity fandom that surrounded the Pentecostal church, founded in Australia by Pastor Brian Houston, who recently stepped down from his leadership role within the church following allegations he wittingly concealed his father’s alleged child sexual abuse.
Lentz has been dealing with his own set of problems. Known for his celebrity status as a one-time spiritual mentor to pop star Justin Bieber, Lentz, who helmed Hillsong East Coast, was fired from his role in the megachurch after admitting in November 2020 he engaged in an extramarital affair.
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“This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said at the time. “I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura, and my children and taking real-time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need.”
According to Variety, the forthcoming series, premiering March 24, features Ranin Karim, a woman with whom Lentz had an affair. The show will also include commentary from Ben Kirby, known for his “PreachersNSneakers” Instagram account, and Hannah Frishberg, a New York Post reporter who has written extensively about Hillsong.
You can watch the trailer here (warning: some viewers may find some images in documentary trailer inappropriate)
The series’ cast of characters seem to question the status of Hillsong, some even suggesting it could be a “cult.”
“With more than 150,000 global members, Hillsong has recently been entangled in scandal,” reads a promotional statement from Discovery+. “‘Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed’ will profile numerous ex-members of the church who have come forward to share harrowing allegations of the trauma, abuse, financial, and labor exploitation that created a culture of chaos within the church.”
“The series will also examine how Hillsong was able to grow into a global brand, while uncovering the truth behind the headlines of recent scandals and shining a light on the fine line between culture, corporation and cult.”
Howard Lee, president of TLC streaming and network originals, told Variety the history of Hillsong Church “is an incredibly compelling story we wanted to explore,” adding the docuseries “will take viewers on an eye-opening journey that will provide new insights into a controversy that continues to be examined.”
It’s worth noting that, in May 2021, Lentz’s wife, Laura, opened up about the pain she has endured as a result of her famous husband’s infidelity. She wrote in an Instagram post that much of the post-affair hurt came from Christians who were “anything but kind, gracious, or loving.”
“Now more than ever, I know the kindness of God, His grace, forgiveness, [and] strength,” she wrote. “I have found true friendships — the ones who have been with me on the mountaintops are the same ones who are with me during my darkest valley. I will not forget who abandoned us, but I choose to keep my heart free of bitterness [and] remain thankful for those that have stayed [and] loved us.”
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