Dr Tanya Riches

Dr Tanya Riches

Department of Theology and Religion
Senior Lecturer and Masters Program Oversight, Hillsong College, Sydney, Australia
Research, Training and Development Officer, Centre for Disability Studies, The University of Sydney, Australia
Honorary Fellow, Edward Cadbury Centre

Contact details

I am a researcher based in Sydney, Australia, working on Christianity, the arts and social change, with interests too in megachurch studies.


  • BA in Psychology/Political Economy, The University of Sydney (2000)
  • MA in Theological Studies, Alphacrucis College (2005)
  • MPhil in Music, Australian Catholic University (2010)
  • PhD in Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary (2016)


My involvement in Pentecostal worship began at the age of fifteen, when I penned an internationally Top 100 charting congregational song ‘Jesus what a beautiful name’. My involvement as a worship leader and songwriter was fostered within the Hillsong worship team, where I administrated the youth band Hillsong United for six years. This extended into a scholarly interest in Pentecostal churches around the globe, particularly in globalizing urban cities. While much existing work into worship has stymied around issues of style, my interest is less in particular instrumentation and more upon the efficacy of worship. This continuing interest has drawn me towards the ways Pentecostal churches use the arts and imagination as cultural production, to facilitate effective social change.

My PhD study investigates post-mission era Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christianity in Australia. In particular I am conducting an ethnographic study of the “Indigenous advantage” of indigenous leadership for members of urban communities. Spanning the East and West coastal centres of Australia (Perth, Sydney, Cairns, The Gold Coast), it concerns a new and emergent initiative within the Assemblies of God Australia (Australian Christian Churches). As such, my current work can be described as located in the nexus between the anthropology of Christianity, Pentecostal studies and development.


My research interests include:

  • Links between contemporary worship (liturgy), spiritual formation and social engagement
  • Neo-Pentecostalism e.g. Hillsong Church (particularly in Oceania, Europe, North America and Asia)
  • Christianity, marginalization, and inclusion (e.g. disability, gender, indigeneity, etc)

Other activities

I am the Director of Arabah Ministries, a not-for-profit organization that assists congregations. I serve as an external consultant to church leadership teams located all over the world regarding their practices (worship, spiritual formation and social engagement). We have various long-term partnerships in Sicily, the Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand.


Book chapters and articles  

  • Riches, Tanya (2015). Dreaming Urban Indigenous Australian Christian Worship in the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.Ed. Yong, Amos and Ingalls, Monique. Songs of Praise: Music and Worship in Global Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. Penn State University Press.
  • Riches, Tanya (2015). Panoptic or Pastoral Gaze? The Worship Leader in the New Media Environment. Edited by Tom Wagner and Anna Nekola. Congregational Music Making and Community in a Mediated Age. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
  • Riches, Tanya, Riches Vivienne and Arnold, Sam. (2015). Making Room for Spiritual Abilities: Towards Inclusive Worship Practices. Australasian Pentecostal Studies.17.
  • Riches, Tanya 2014. June 2014. "God's Brand is Love: Australian Immigrant Churches in the United States." Australian Journal Mission Studies no. 7 (2):
  • Riches, Tanya. Aboriginal Australian Pentecostals taking the initiative in Mount Druitt’s urban songlines. Global Forum on Arts and Christian Faithno. 2 (1): 38 - 54.
  • Riches, Tanya. 2014. "Ethical and Theological Reflections: Liturgical and Ritual Studies method in Australian Pentecostal Contemporary Congregational Worship." Australasian Pentecostal Studies. 16:
  • Riches, Tanya. 2013. An Australian Worship Leader's Journey: From Hillsong to "Singing Up Country". Handbook for Ethnodoxologists, International Council of Ethnodoxologists: 105
  • Riches, Tanya, and Tom Wagner. 2012. "The evolution of Hillsong Music: From Australian Pentecostal congregation into global brand." Australian Journal of Communication39, no. 1: 17.
  • Riches, Tanya. 2010. The Evolving Theological Emphasis of Hillsong Songs (1996 – 2007) Australasian Pentecostal Studies.13: 87 – 123.
  • Riches, Tanya. 2010. Shout to the Lord! Music and Change at Hillsong: 1996 – 2007. Australian Catholic University, Supervisor Dr Dianne Gome. Dissertation.

Music recordings and congregational songs

  • Riches, Tanya Grace. Nashville: Independent, 2012
  • Riches, Tanya. King Above Us All.EP. North Shore Christian Centre. Sydney: Independent, 2009.
  • Riches, Tanya; Sheerman, David; Blythe, Murray and McCarthy, Derrick. Seven Hundred Seasons. Speaking of Sarah. Sydney: Independent, 2006.
  • Riches, Tanya; Sheerman, David; Blythe, Murray and McCarthy, Derrick. Seven Hundred Seasons. Speaking of Sarah. Sydney: Independent, 2006.
  • Riches, Tanya. King of Love, Hope,Sydney: Hillsong Music Publishing, 2003.
  • Riches, Tanya and Peipman, Paul. Peace on Earth, Whispers of Peace, Sydney: National Council of Australian Churches, 2004.
  • Riches, Tanya. Every time, Amazing Love(Simply Worship Series No.3), Sydney: Hillsong Music Publishing, 2000.
  • Riches, Tanya. Hear Our Prayer, Everyday, Hillsong United. Sydney: Hillsong Music Publishing, 1999.
  • Riches, Tanya. Jesus I Adore you, Simply Worship 1(Simply Worship Series No.1), Sydney: Hillsong Music Publishing, 1998.
  • Riches, Tanya. Jesus what a beautiful name, God is in the House CD, Hillsong Church. Sydney: Hillsong Music Publishing, 1996.