Hillsong New York pastor Carl Lentz: 'We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do'

He's hip, he has tattoos, and he wants his church full of people, gay and straight

Published 06 June 2014  |  

(Photo: Hillsong NYC)
Carl Lentz

If avoiding the H-word was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong New York City.

At least that's what he suggested in a recent CNN segment on his views and the hugely successful church he leads in trendy New York. 

For Lentz, homosexuality is just not something he feels the need to go on about. 

"Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent.  And I'm still waiting for smeone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people.  You won't find it because he never did," he said.

Other pastors are happy to go in front of the cameras to share their views about the Bible's take on homosexuality, but Lentz - who's managed to link Christian with cool like few other church leaders - doesn't think a "media moment" is the best place to wade into the issue. 

"I do discuss it, just not the way people want me to," he says.

What he will say, though, is that he is more than happy for gay people to be part of his flock. 

"We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do."

His wife, Laura Lentz, also featured in the segment and expressed similar views: "It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live, it's - that's their journey."

The interviewer for the segment, Poppy Harlow, wasn't able to get it out of Carl whether he was Democrat or Republican but Lentz did express his frustration at the idea - not so uncommon in the US - that being a Democrat is incompatible with being a Christian.

"My thing is that Jesus transcends politics," he said.  "Some Christians say you can't even be a Democrat and follow Jesus.  That really bugs me."

Harlow also interviewed Hillsong founder Pastor Brian Houston for the segment.  Does he think it's Carl Lentz who is the attraction - more than Hillsong - to the NYC church that reportedly attracts around 5,000 people to its services each week?

Houston agrees Lentz is a "magnetic" guy but he's pretty certain it's Hillsong itself that's the draw.

"I've seen the same response all over the world," he said.  "People lining up for church in London, Cape Town, Stockholm, we've seen it.  Even Paris, you know."

Watch the segment in full here

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