The new service sees around 600 people gather for a time of Christian teaching and worship.
Hillsong started in Australia, but now has churches across 25 countries, with 130,000 people worldwide attending their services, including celebrities such as Justin Bieber, the Kardashians and Selena Gomez.
Despite all the star-studded links and their concert-like services, Ryan Brown, the lead pastor of Hillsong Croydon emphasises that these things are not what is important to them as a church.
He told EastLondonLines: “The aim of Hillsong Church in Croydon is to build a large Christ-centred, bible-based church. Changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.
“We want to create a Sunday experience so that when people are a part of one of our services, they leave changed, having had an encounter with God.”
Despite starting in 1983, as a gathering of just eight people in the home of Brian Houston, founder and global pastor of Hillsong, the church has now exploded into a global phenomenon.
Hillsong describes itself as “a contemporary Christian church, a global movement positioned at the intersection of faith and culture”.
Hillsong has a 24/7 television channel with 230 million viewers each year. They also boast their own university, which has had 10,000 graduates since 1995, and music bands, which have released 65 albums, with 50 million people worldwide singing their songs each week.
This new Croydon service adds to the three other ‘campuses’ that Hillsong Church have in London, including Soho, Seven Sisters, and Bermondsey, as well as 11 others across the UK.
The megachurch decided to locate in the Croydon area due to the high percentage of Christians in the area according to Brown.
In a report conducted by the Office of Nationals Statistics (ONS UK), Croydon has the highest percentage of Christians than any other London borough, with 49.3% of people identifying as Christians, which is 189,200 people.
The next borough to have such a number of Christians is Enfield in North London with 185,200.
Brown believes that the move into Croydon can only be a positive addition to the community.
He told Eastlondonlines: “Croydon is an area where hundreds of people who attend Hillsong live, so firstly it makes church easy and accessible for those who already call Hillsong home. For them to be able to attend their church, in their local area and be able to bring family and friends easily.”
As Christianity is the most practised religion in the borough, Islam is the next highest, with 8.8 per cent of the borough identifying as practising Muslims, which is 33,800 people. 33.6 per cent of the borough attribute themselves to no religion.
Despite there being around 128,900 people in the borough who don’t follow any religion whatsoever, Brown is certain that his church can make an impact.
“We want to see many people come to faith for the first time or come back to faith and church if they’ve been away. Through building church and helping people connect to Jesus, we aim for our church to positively shape Croydon and the surrounding area.”
Just like the Hillsong movement worldwide, it has blossomed across the city of London already, with an estimate of 4000 Londoners attending the weekly services, and 15,000 going to the Hillsong summer conference at the 02 Arena this July.
Despite the rapid growth of Hillsong churches in London, the number of practising Christians in Croydon has decreased to almost its lowest in 10 years.
According to ONS UK, in 2018 there were 189,200 practising Christians in Croydon. It has significantly dropped since 2008, when there was 234,200 Christians.
The number of Christians in Croydon hasn’t been over the 200,000 mark again since 2015.
But with so many people attending the world-wide services, Hillsong Croydon believes that the way in which they welcome people can change that trend.
Brown told Eastlondonlines: “People can expect to be welcomed for who they are, enter into a positive atmosphere and hear a life-giving message that will always point them to Jesus.”
The church hosts ‘groups’, social meetings for members of the church to attend midweek.
Brown added: “Groups is how we take big church on a Sunday and make it small and intimate. It’s a way for people to find ‘their people’ their friends and people they can do the journey with. We meet weekly in different homes, pubs, cafes, venues across Croydon.”
More information about the Hillsong Croydon church and their Sunday service can be found at: https://hillsong.com/uk/croydon/