Hillsong: Controversial Megachurch
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Hillsong is Australia’s largest church. It has what it refers to as ‘campuses’ in 37 Australian cities, and in 30 countries throughout the world.
Known for its hugely popular modern worship songs, the church has released over 50 worship albums since 1992. Hillsong says, “Each week, Hillsong Worship songs are sung by an estimated 50 million people in 60 languages.” 1
Until 2018 Hillsong was affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Assemblies of God in Australia) in order to become an autonomous denomination.
Brian and Bobbie Houston are the senior pastors of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, incorporating two major campuses (Hills and City), a city-wide network of Connect Groups and contributing ministries and extension services.
In February 1978, Brian and Bobbie moved to Australia as newlyweds from New Zealand, joining the ministry team of Sydney Christian Life Centre which was pioneered in July 1977.
In the early 1980s, after successfully pioneering two other churches in the Sydney region, they saw the need to provide people in Sydney’s North West with an active, contemporary church. In August 1983, they founded Hills Christian Life Centre, and its mission – “to reach and influence the world by building a large Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life” – has caused it to grow from a congregation of 45 in its inception to what is possibly the largest church in Australian history.
Today Hillsong Church operates from a 21 acre site in a modern business park in the Hills District, and from a contemporary facility in Waterloo near the heart of Sydney’s CBD. With a total attendance of over 18,000 on any given weekend, the reputation of the church continues to expand, having a dynamic influence and impact in Australia and many other nations of the world.
The live praise and worship albums produced by Hillsong Music Australia have achieved gold status in various countries, and the songs are sung in churches around the world. Hillsong’s Worship Pastor Darlene Zschech and other members of the worship team have become internationally renowned for their songwriting and anointed worship leading.
Churches of all denominations from across the globe are able to experience what God is doing in and through the people at Hillsong Church through the annual Hillsong Conference, Colour Your World Women’s Conference and Hillsong Men’s Conference.
The Hillsong International Leadership College attracts students from all over the globe and is committed to training, equipping and building leaders in pastoral, music and other ministry skills.
Hillsong Church is also actively involved in building the Sydney local community through Hillsong Emerge whose facilities and programs range from medical centres and emergency relief services, to drug and alcohol programs and personal development and recovery programs.
As Hillsong Church continues to increase and grow, the vision remains consistent: to build the Church of Jesus Christ and bless the body of Christ world-wide. – Source: Hillsong Church, History Last accessed Feb. 15, 2006
Hillsong and Money
Hillsong Church – “A $1 Million-Plus Business”
The ministry established by Brian and Bobbie Houston, senior pastors of the dynamic Hillsong Church, has become a $1 million-plus business.
Financial returns filed for Leadership Ministries Incorporated (LMI) this week show the not-for-profit association posted revenue of $1.329 million last year.
LMI, which is registered as a ministry, derives its income from the couple’s teaching resources, books and international speaking engagements, and their wider national and international church commitments.
Statements for 2003 and 2004 show LMI’s revenue increased by more than 20 per cent in the year, indicating the growing influence of the Houstons. The $1.329 million revenue was offset by expenditure of $1.05 million, according to financial statements lodged with the Office of Fair Trading.
This included unspecified wages for the Houstons and two members of staff, donations to charities such as the Hillsong Church, the Hillsong Foundation and Opportunity International, costs associated with the production and sale of teaching resources, operating costs and administration expenses.
With more than 18,000 members, Hillsong is the largest Pentecostal church in Australia. Last year, Hillsong Church posted revenue of $50.8 million, of which almost half came from donations and offerings.
LMI is a separate entity from Hillsong Church through which the Houstons carry out their national and international ministry and make donations to the Hillsong Foundation and other charities.
– Source: Hillsong preachers run $1.3m business, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, Aug. 12, 2005
Video Documentary: Hillsong – A Megachurch Exposed
Articles about Hillsong
- Is Hillsong a biblically sound church? Item on the GotQuestions.org site, which among other things alerts people to the fact that Hillsong has embraced the Word of Faith movement, with an emphasis on the so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel.’
As with many ministries, there are positive and negative facets to Hillsong. Are there people being saved through the Hillsong Church? Yes, and we praise God for that. Can a Christian worship the Lord with Hillsong-produced music? Absolutely. Can a person be carried away by emotion and misled into the false idea that God always wants us to be healthy and rich? Unfortunately, yes.
Blogs about Hillsong
- Hillsong Church Watch (Contra) Started by group of concerned leaders, pastors and elders from various denominations around Australia.
Books about Hillsong
- People in Glass Houses: An Insider’s Story of a Life In and Out of Hillsong [Contra] By Tanya Levin
Tanya Levin grew up in the church that became Hillsong–the country’s most ambitious, entrepreneurial and influential religious corporation.
People in Glass Houses tells how a small Assemblies of God church in a suburban school hall became a multi-million dollar tax-free enterprise and a powerful force in Australia today.
Opening up the world of Christian fundamentalism, this is a powerful, personal and at times very funny exploration of an all-singing, all- swaying mega church.
– Source: Book description at Amazon.com