The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. - 1Timothy 3:1-3 (ESV)
Is anyone truly surprised? Hillsong has long been one of the top two international doctrinal cesspools on this planet. You do not draw the numbers that Hillsong draws by presenting the true gospel because we know the gospel offends. It divides. Hillsong never trafficked in the gospel, however. Brian Houston created the near perfect model for a carnal apostate church. It taught worldly prosperity, mandatory healing, and spiritual debauchery. It spread across this planet like a plague opening up satellite churches everywhere using the same model. Carnal music disguised as worship, sermonettes that address temporal challenges, and cult of personality pastors who draw followers unto themselves. All very powerful and successful and all very anti-biblical. Realize also that Brian Houston remained the lead pastor over all satellite churches. The local cult of personality pastor was the site pastor. Over the years however Hillsong is becoming slowly exposed for the false church it is but with each passing revelation it seemed to only coarsen the wound it inflicts.
One could easily see how debased Hillsong was by what was allowed within its walls. A few years back the London Hillsong sang the popular disco song, "I like to Move It, Move It" during worship. This was during the same time that soon to be disgraced pastor Perry Noble was singing Highway to Hell during worship and demeaning those in his church that wanted more biblically. This trend has unfortunately continued to this day as we hear routinely of similar stories like Andy Stanley opening his service with a Led Zeppelin medley. Make no mistake though; Hillsong was on the cutting edge of turning holy worship into carnal music concerts. Their main campus in Australia produced that year the sleaziest version of Silent Night one could imagine. Yes, you read that right. Despite the outrage, Hillsong just plodded on, bloated from their own sense of self-importance and led by Brian Houston. Even when the NYC Campus held a woman's conference starring their youth pastor "dressed up" like the Naked Cowboy, no one even blinked an eye.
This level of moral decay however indicated real leadership problems and the fish rots from head down. Through the years and controversies, Houston was always able to play the Teflon pastor, firing the offenders and promising better accountability. Those who loved their sin while pretending to be churched, continued to attend Hillsong. In 2021 the Dallas Hillsong pastors were forced to step down after it was revealed they stole tithes to buy ATV's, designer clothes and gifts for their children. Pastor Reed Bogard, who was also accused of rape, had served alongside the disgraced NYC Hillsong pastor, Carl Lentz before being handed the reigns to Dallas Hillsong. Brian Houston lamented that the Bogards had failed to operate their campus up to the standards of Hillsong. What standards? Once the COVID crisis hit, Houston used the opportunity to shutter the church for good and move on. The Hillsong brand survived. The Dallas sheep? Not so much.
The same year there was another squashed scandal at the Montclair New Jersey Hillsong. That is where married Pastor Darnell Barrett decided to take pictures highlighting his aroused genitalia and text the photos to one of his female congregants. He tried to play it off as some innocent accident and a result of fighting anxiety and depression, but no one was buying it, least of all the victim. Moving across the water we come to Hillsong NYC, which was led by super-pastor to the stars, Carl Lentz. He had it all. He was the pastor to Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant. He was always on the Oprah Winfrey show, where he never represented the gospel correctly. He founded Hillsong NYC with Brian Houston's son Joel. Behind the scenes however Lentz was abusing employees and having extramarital affairs. The behavior described by one of his victims paints the picture of a manipulative sexual abuser. Initially Lentz denied these allegations until it was clear there were receipts, at which point he stepped down in disgrace. Six months later Brian Houston stated there would be better accountability moving forward. Sound familiar? At the same time Lentz announced he would be entering treatment for burnout, depression and anxiety. Sound familiar?
Not enough yet? How about the 60 Minutes expose regarding a woman who claimed to have been raped on church premises and that Hillsong did not respond appropriately? How about a different woman who complained that a Hillsong staff member, who was convicted for indecent assault on her, was allowed to continue working at Hillsong? The victim was 18 years old and a student at Hillsong Australia, from the United States. That brings us to the big Kahuna, Brian Houston.
Hillsong has always been under a shadow of accusations against Houston that he covered up the underage sexual abuses of his father, who founded Hillsong. His since deceased father admitted to abusing boys but the accusations were that Brian willingly covered it up. Now, Houston has his very own set of personal indiscretion accusations to deal with and is stepping down from Hillsong to do so. It seems ten years ago Houston sent inappropriate text messages to a staff member who resigned. Houston blames this on taking too many sleeping pills, which he claims to have had a previous dependence on. More recently, in 2019, Houston was attending the annual Hillsong Conference when he knocked on a hotel room door that was not his own and spent about 40 minutes inside with an unidentified female occupant. Houston blames this odd complaint on taking too much anti-anxiety medication and mixing it with alcohol. The current Interim Pastor Phil Dooly admits that they do not know what happened once the room door closed. I am going to assume they were not praying if Houston feels compelled to blame this incident on drugs and alcohol.
The key verses outline the requirements for being a pastor or even an overseer in God's church. Brian Houston has never been above approach. From the very beginning the specter of abused children hung around his neck, denied but not persuasively. While Houston is technically the husband of one wife, this requirement speaks against the 40 minutes in the hotel room with another woman while spaced out on drugs and alcohol. It speaks against the inappropriate text messages when he had a dependency on sleeping pills. Sober minded? It sounds like one of the mandatory requirements to be hired as a Hillsong pastor is to not be sober minded! They all blame their indiscretions on anxiety, depression, and medications. Are we getting the point yet? Given the slimy trail Brian Houston and Hillsong has left over the decades, is anyone truly surprised to find out that the corruption started at the top? How many more victims did not come forward? Beloved, hear me well. There is NOTHING redeemable about Hillsong. Every time you sing their songs in church you pay royalties to Brian Houston. Every time you buy their music you do the same. While all of these stories are horrific and damage the cause of the gospel it does to even begin to address the overarching problem lurking in the background and that is that Hillsong preaches a false gospel. If Brian Houston was preaching the real gospel then the word would have convicted him. Right now there are millions of people attending Hillsong churches being taught that money is good, sin is debatable, and personal accountability is a catch phrase that means nothing when caught because it is dismissed by claiming a drug dependency, from the pastoral staff.
Hillsong is not the church beloved. Mark it and avoid it completely.
Reverend Anthony Wade - March 24, 2022