The Tomlin UNITED our has cancelled the option to purchase VIP tickets following heavy criticism.
According to The Christian Post, critics were not impressed about the inclusion of an on-stage catwalk photoshoot in the VIP experience, saying that such action calls for the artists to engage in "celebrity-style commercialized worship."
"What is so problematic here is the leveraging of the worship of God for the creation of personal fame and fortune," Tom Read wrote in his Premier Christianity article.
He went on to say that his disappointment sprang from the artists influence over his life and his observation that "something" is not right anymore recently.
"Modern-day worship has become so corrupt that I have little doubt that Jesus would flip the tables on much of it. The way we worship needs a reformation that will rid it of the celebrity culture in which it has become so entrenched," he continued.
Read suggested of an activity in which the artists can give back instead.
"Rather than VIP experiences, how amazing would it be if Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin took this as an opportunity to give something back? They could invite local worship leaders to meet with them before the event for free, and offer to pray with them and encourage them," he said.
Because of this issue, Read urged his followers to decrease their dependence on songs written by celebrity worship leaders. He then introduced his project called "The Modern Hymnal," which aims to promote the use of songs written by local songwriters for the churches in United Kingdom.
"The problem of celebrity culture in the worship world will continue for as long as we, the people, provide it a platform on which to thrive. So please, do not buy a VIP experience for worship events. It is the antithesis of worship. We need to do better, and I believe we can," Read concluded.
However, Rend Collective's Chris Llewellyn defended the tour's VIP ticket offering, saying that the practice is necessary for the worship events' survival.
He admitted to selling VIP tickets himself in some of his performances, thus his knowledge in such predicament.
Llewellyn presented several factors to explain his point.
First, he said that these events cost money and that one of the ways in which Christian concerts can breakeven is through upgraded ticketing, such as offering "VIP experience" or sponsorship. He shared that without these mechanisms, his own band would not be capable of touring since they reduce their tickets to "staggeringly low rates" to be "accessible as possible."
He also stated that the artists are not earning as much as they used to do because of streaming, making live shows their only "significant source of income."
Next, the musician pointed out that the VIP in such experience "is not the artist but rather the guest" and that people are not paying to see the VIP but "to be the VIP." He stressed that in this manner, the artists get to be "more touchable and human" to their fans.
Finally, he emphasized that the pandemic has left the music industry struggling, thus the need for methods to create "breakeven and profitable events" so people who were affected will be able to survive.
"In my view, it's pretty gauche to choose this season to attack the industry, or at least one of the few effective revenue streams available to workers, just as they are staggering back to their feet," Llewellyn declared.
Instead of VIP tickets, the Tomlin UNITED Tour is offering "Experiences" for all its 33 shows in 2022, which begins on Feb. 9 in North Carolina and concludes on April 15 in Tennessee.