Learning from Hillsong Church

What happened here should not turn you away from church.

Kei-Lynn Wheaton, Staff Writer

After recently watching a Hillsong Church documentary on Discovery+, I was shocked at what it revealed about the church. I found myself enraged, saddened and bewildered. The topics covered in this documentary include adultery, pseudo forced free labor, mishandling of church funds, child sexual abuse and more. 

These are serious accusations that must be addressed regardless of the outreach Hillsong possesses. However, Hillsong does not represent the majority of churches. What happened at Hillsong should not turn people away from church. Rather, it should be a warning to Christians to keep their church leadership accountable and hold fast to the Scriptures.

WHAT HAPPENED AT HILLSONG

Hillsong is a major church organization that has church plants around the world. Frank Houston founded the church in Australia in 1983. Brian Houston, Frank’s son, introduced the church to the United States by planting an assembly in New York City in 2010. Today, there are Hillsong church plants on both the East and West Coast. The church became incredibly large—as they have founded their own college called Hillsong College.

Hillsong began to spiral when their lead pastor in New York, Carl Lentz, came forward and admitted on his Instagram that he was having an adulterous relationship while he married to his wife. Then, more instances of inappropriate behavior surfaced within the organization’s leadership. A young woman came forward from their college in Australia stating a worship leader sexually assaulted her. 

Later, the public learned that Frank Houston sexually molested a young boy in the 1970s who came forward later in adulthood. The allegations surrounding these events are hot topics in the religious world. At the end of March 2022, Brian Houston resigned from the mega church, according to The Guardian

CHURCH IS IMPORTANT TO OUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH

The downfall of Hillsong might cause people to wonder if church has become a business rather than a place of worship. Abuses of power can certainly take place in any church, regardless of the size of the congregation.While it is crucial to keep church leadership accountable, people should continue to respect the church institution and regularly attend a local church.

Situations like Hillsong’s should make people ask questions of their church leaders, as well as bring your concerns to them directly. If Christians dismiss church altogether, this means dismissing a crucial part of God’s calling for community with believers.

There should be open dialogue between pastors and elders and their congregations. The church should actively support and participate in transparency. Attending church can connect Christians to a welcoming community, but it can also be disappointing. There may be instances within church leadership that come to light, and it is important to help guide the church through the healing process.

Be an active part of the church and represent the Church well. This is the only way to ensure that further abuse and misrepresentation of Christ, like what happened at Hillsong, does not continue.

 

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