Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin have pulled the “VIP” ticket option from their upcoming U.S. concert tour amid backlash.
The “Tomlin United Tour” concert tickets had previously offered an option for a VIP ticket that allowed concert-goers to walk on stage with the artists and take pictures in a photo shoot. VIP ticket holders would also receive premium seats, exclusive seats and meet-and-greets with the artists, The Christian Post reports.
Critics, however, said in offering the higher-priced, VIP option, Hillsong and Tomlin were participating in “celebrity-style commercialized worship.”
“I’m not sure which is worse: that Hillsong and Chris Tomlin think that this is OK in the context of worship; or that there’s actually a demand for it?” said Tom Read, the founder of the United Kingdom’s Modern Hymnal.
“Some people will think that I’m being unfair here, or unnecessarily ‘divisive,’ what at what point are we allowed to say something is not OK? Because this is not OK, and justifying it just contributes to the problem,” he added.
Read said modern worship has become “corrupt,” and he discouraged concert-goers from purchasing the VIP option before the offer was removed.
“In my opinion, worship needs its own reformation that rids itself of the celebrity culture that it’s become so entrenched in… This will continue as long as we give a platform for it to continue … We need to do better.”
In response to the criticism, Chris Llewellyn, a Rend Collective worship band member, said in an opinion article that tours would not be possible without VIP options. He said in many cases, Christian artists offer their admission tickets at lower rates than secular artists.
“One of the main mechanisms by which large Christian concerts actually break even is via upgraded ticketing – think ‘VIP experience,’—or through sponsorship,” he said. “I can say confidently that without these things, my own band would be unable to tour.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Dia Dipasupil/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.