Is Hillsong Church A Cult?

There have been documented allegations against Brian Houston and his Hillsong Church (Australia) for years, but now the clamor is beginning to grow. My kids LOVE Hillsong’s albums (and I have a few loaded into my BlackBerry MP3 player as well), and Hillsong is HUGE in Australia…so this headline caught my attention:

Hillsong pastor defends ministry against cult claim

Celebrity evangelist Brian Houston has defended his Hillsong ministry against allegations it is a “cult-like” organisation as the Sydney megachurch opened a “campus” church on Brisbane’s southside yesterday.

He also denied Hillsong had misspent Commonwealth grant money or recruited students in NSW schools.

Mr Houston and his wife Bobbie were installed as the new senior pastors of one of Brisbane’s largest Pentecostal churches, the 1000-member Garden City Christian Church.
[...]

Criticism that Hillsong is overly focused on money, flashy entertainment and fund-raising, were rejected.

“We’re big and because we’re big people wonder what all this is about,” he said.

Hillsong critics, including politicians who have been contacted by former Hillsong members, have accused it of cult-like behaviour, including psychologically abusing people who questioned the church’s practices.

These allegations are pretty troubling, and I can relate to some of the former member’s concerns – after having escaped a cult myself. If true, then Hillsong is clearly practicing the same intimidation tactics that mega-churches here in the US have perfected: the “you’re either with us or against us mantra.

For all of my faithful readers/contributors in the UK, Australia, and overseas, please weigh in on this. You’re all closer to Hillsong and may know more than those of us in the States know concerning this matter. All in all, another reason to pray for the Body of Christ – and that the Lord will continue to raise pastors after His own heart and not His hand.

I guess I’ll wait a little longer before I erase Hillsong’s music. No matter what happens, God is STILL “mighty to save”!

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57 Responses to “Is Hillsong Church A Cult?”


  1. 1 John_F May 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    In the same boat here. I must have at least 10 of their albums.

    • 2 sketchesonapage June 19, 2009 at 6:45 am

      Hi, i live in sydney and actually used to attend hillsong for 4 years. And I can tell you now, it is NOT a cult. The only problem i have with hillsong, to which is one of the reasons i left the church was because the Truth/the Word was beginning to be watered down, their actions started to be more “business like” and by that i mean, they tend to do things so it “sounded good” to the youth and to the people who attended. They wanted to be somewhat “politcally correct”

      Hillsong i believe was a great church to start my christianity, but after awhile it just seemed like the actions was just the same and not much maturing. Most times their teachings were about how to be prosperous, or it sounded more like a “new age” sermon rather than a sermon that taught about Jesus and how everything we do in life is for HIS Glory.

      There wasn’t enough teaching on repentance, and if there was one might be considered “legalistic” It seems like what mattered most was raising the numbers of church members in the church, when it the bible it says “There is a narrow gate AND a narrow WAY” A narrow path, but yet you seem many of the youth living like the world, going to bars as a social thing rather than a saving souls thing.

      Anyways thats all i’ll comment on now hahaha i could type out more but i’ll save it for later for my own blog

  2. 3 Rae W May 29, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I’d be interested in knowing exactly what “cult-like behavior” Hillsong is supposedly engaging in. While I’ve heard and read some less-than-stellar things regarding the Houstons (particularly Brian), it’s also true that folks LOVE to play the “Cult Card” when their church call them out on their “private” (read “sinful”) behavior, or worse yet, dares to practice loving, biblical discipline.

    Interesting story.

    • 4 speaking truth May 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm

      You’re right Rae, the “cult card” can get thrown around a lot, but my former pimp and his cult exhibited the classic behaviors: intimidation if you question anything, excommunication (under threat) if you leave or attempt to communicate with those left behind, blind allegiance to the “mand of gawd” as opposed to God Himself, and on and on…

      • 5 speaking truth May 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

        BTW – Rae, I forgot to add that I agree that some use the “cult card” as cover for their own misdeeds. When I fled the heresy I used to sit under, I had to repent before the Lord (and to those whom I offended while in service to my former pimp) because of my part in the heresy. I sat under false teaching because it fed my lust of the flesh – my lust for the things that I wanted to “speak into existence”, the “favor of God”, etc. I didn’t have entirely clean hands in the matter (I wasn’t held at gunpoint to stay there).

  3. 6 hiscrivener May 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I know for a fact I have everything they have come out with… event the Michael Guglielmucci hubbub.

    This blows. PUH-lease some Aussie or Kiwi refute these claims before I really starting shouting to the lord about this.

    (Did I just do that? :))

    • 7 speaking truth May 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm

      Just “dance in the freedom we know” until we hear differently, brother :lol:

    • 8 sketchesonapage June 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      That thing on Michael Gugliemucci is true, Their church is in close tie with my home church hillsong and they did give an announcement that it’s unfortunate and sad but it’s true. He did fake the cancer and he even fooled his parents, family and friends as well as the church. But as disciples of Christ we must be quick to forgive and not remember the sin he had caused. For all sins are the same in the eyes of God, It’s not for all of us to condemn a person but to give wise council, if that person does not repent then thats a choice he has make with Christ. In the end there is so much us humans can do for each other, most cases its between the individual and Christ

  4. 9 Gabe Boisvert May 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Honestly, this post is exactly why I hate blogs and people’s personal opinions. After you erase their music, erase your blog as well. God bless.

    • 10 speaking truth May 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Stand down for a moment Gabe. Back away from the rhetoric and breathe deeply.

      Did you read the title of the post? I posed a question – I didn’t declare anything about Hillsong. We’re all entitled to our personal opinions, but again, I asked for further clarification from those who may know than I know about what’s going on over there.

      By the way, God’s Word is powerful all by itself – He doesn’t need music to evangelize the Gospel message. I enjoy Hillsongs music but I will not support them (or ANY other “artist”) if they’re public professions and music do not mirror their private lifestyle and beliefs.

  5. 11 naturalsystah May 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I have a couple of songs by Darlene Zschech, the music is really nice!

    Hmm… Hillsong comes on Christian TV over here but I’ve never really watched any of the programmes. All I know of Brian Houston’s teachings is that he is into prosperity teaching, check out this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO1cJ8mq6VI

    However, like Rae W said, I would bear in mind that some who label a church as a cult may have an axe to grind…

    When I get a chance, I’ll see if I can sit through the next broadcast on God (less)channel and check out the teachings, aren’t they shown on US TV at all?

    • 12 speaking truth May 29, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      We don’t get God(less) TV over here, naturalsystah – we’ve got enough TBN to choke a horse. I think Houston’s program comes on TBN but I never caught it…

      • 13 Lady D June 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm

        You are not missing anything IST. You know what’s on TBN, he’s right in line with the other prosperity preachers. I love Hillsong music, and have listened to it for years. “None But Jesus”, is one of my favorites. What I can’t figure out, is how can a man preach such dribble and the worship team writes and sings some of the best music in our generation? Since 1992, almost every cd produces no less than 3 hit songs that are sung in churches around the world.
        That really baffles me. I listen to Hillsong music-not the Hillsong pastor~

        • 14 ChristBearer June 22, 2009 at 5:51 pm

          Eze 33:31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you [as] My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, [but] their hearts pursue their [own] gain.

          Sorry to say this but when i first came across this scripture it reminded me of Hillsong and majority of ‘Megs Churches’

        • 15 Ray July 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

          I often listen to Brian Houston on TV in Aus… he always leaves me thinking about how Jesus would have had me handle situations in 2009. We need more like him, after all Jesus message was all about us reaching our potential and helping others enter into a relationship with God & reach theirs…faith, hope & love but the greatest of these is Love.

    • 16 Oh NO!!!! June 2, 2009 at 2:39 am

      Wow, that clip that you had of Houston’s teaching on wealth is outrageous Naturalsystah!!! We’ve got another Joel Osteen on our hands now. He took his verse out of context there. It wasn’t saying that the poor are rich in spirit, not in the size of their pocketbooks. And as far as seeking MORE money, Paul was content to be in chains for the Gospel and lived a life of sacrifice after the model of Christ. Where did that guy get that all we need is more money. It’s a tool, yes, but don’t take God’s Word out of context. There are some major problems in Houston’s worldview.

      • 17 Oh NO!!!! June 2, 2009 at 2:41 am

        oops, I meant to say the verse did say that the poor are rich in spirit, and not in the size of their pocketbook. (sorry about the type-o)

  6. 18 Ace May 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I am pretty sure that the blog slice of laodacia or maybe David Cloud have done stuff on this church and from what I remember it is not pretty.

    You could probably just google “cult hillsong church” and find out what you want to know.

    At least you WANT to discern, others just want to not be bothered.

    Many Blessings :)
    Ace

    • 19 Rae May 29, 2009 at 10:38 pm

      Hm. Whenever Slice says anything negative about someone, my tendency is to give that someone the benefit of the doubt.

      Just sayin’.

  7. 20 hiscrivener May 29, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Um, Gabe? Someone whizz in your Wheaties?

    Dude, it was a question not an exclamation. Your comment is why I hate folk who just show up, light a fire and split.

    Are you the flick-the-cigarette-out-the-window-in-North-California? No, then come back and relax. We would love to hear your opinion on the question.

  8. 21 miss-melly May 30, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Hey IST, I am an Aussie, when I first became a Christian, Hillsong was always blaring in my car and I can tell you that music was and is a real blessing.
    Brian Houston’s preaching style is along the lines of “live your best life now”, Joel Osteen type preaching and for that reason I don’t watch Hillsong on the box anymore, hey you got to grow up sometime. I don’t believe Hillsong is a cult, but just another mega church that treats God’s church as a business and to make the Church as seeker friendly as possible.

    Here is an interview with Brian Houston on ABC which is kind of like your PBS station??

    http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2005/s1427560.htm

    What do you think??

  9. 22 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen May 30, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Gabe,

    Last I checked in the United States, your Constitution gives its people the right to freedom of speech, even if it is your belovéd Hillsong.

    ST,

    I’m not sure what to make of these claims. Claims like these get thrown around all the time – sometimes true, other times not so true. Will keep my eyes and ears open for more information.

  10. 23 Ann Brock May 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

    IST,HELLO! this is my first knowledge of the cult label…Now I have alot of their music download on my IPOD…I like Darlene Zschech,and I like Hillsong worship style but I have never heard the pastor.

    • 24 speaking truth May 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks for taking a moment out of your busy schedule to stop by, Ann B. With all your “tweeting”, I’m honored you had a moment to leave a comment :lol:

      (just kidding…sort of…

  11. 25 Pastor Jim May 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I didn’t even know Hillsong was a church. Thought it was a publishing company.

    Does this imply that ‘worship’ music should have to stand the rigors of a biblical analysis too? Even if it makes me want to dance and sing along at the top of my lungs?

    hmmm… I’m looking forward to following this riff…

    • 26 speaking truth May 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      Does this imply that ‘worship’ music should have to stand the rigors of a biblical analysis too?

      Not at all, Pastor Jim – to each his own regarding personal taste in worship music. I assumed that Gabe contended that worship music was equal to the preached Word in regards to evangelism. I apologize if I misunderstood the reference – but I simply will not support a Christian music artist that does not practice what they preach.

      For example, I used to be a huge J.Moss fan. Moss is a songwriter, producer, and performer who worked with the biggest names in gospel music. His lyrics were heartfelt and sincere – yet the married father was conducting an adulturous affair at the same time, producing a child here in Georgia. I erased my J Moss music because he didn’t practice what he preached. Further, he tried to publicy defend his activities.

      Kirk Franklin, on the other hand, is an over-zealous world-renowned gospel star. He’s a bit jumpy at times, but I like his music (and have a few of his latest albums on my MP3 player). Franklin preaches and sings about the Gospel – and even admitted his past struggle with pornography some years ago. Franklin not only admitted his guilt, but still challenges gospel artist to live holy and not hypocritical lifestyles (h/t to gcmwatch):

      Kirk’s music will remain in my MP3 player…

  12. 27 Daniel May 30, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t know about them being a cult. I’ve never been, although I lived 10 minutes from *the* Hillsong church in Baulkham Hills. But I do know that they are prosperity-preaching, money-grabbing folks. They’ll preach that the Lord will bless you if you give them loads of cash; they’ll send the garbage bins back around if they’re not full enough of money the first time. Their services consist of a rock concert and a few “God wants you to be successful” lines absent of any real Biblical content.

    I can’t comment on the cultishness, but they are an unfortunate blight on Christianity and encourage a completely self-centred, me-focussed, emotions-based view of God.

    Having said that, some of the nicest people I know love Hillsong. There are a lot of Godly people who do, they’re just not very mature Christians.

  13. 28 DMac May 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Certainly not a cult imo. They are a “mega” brand that has set the benchmark very high. We have a Hillsong church here in London. I know people who will travel many miles to visit this church, primarily for the worship experience they offer. If we stripped away the expensive set pieces, the worship team and their musical giftings and had only the word preached. Would the brand be as big and as popular?

    What I’m saying is, are these churches as big and as popular because of the style as opposed to the substance? People like to frequent nice restaurants, own reasonably nice clothes and dare I say it, some people even like to been seen at a place that has a certain vibe. I’m not suggesting they don’t preach about the cross, grace, sin etc… I just think they represent an attractive brand/experience that people, especially young people, are inclined to go visit and enjoy.

    Or perhaps I’m just being patronising…

  14. 29 Barry K June 2, 2009 at 1:07 am

    The gospel of gold and silver is definitely a different gospel.Obviously going against the gospel of Jesus which tells us to count the costs,to deny self, and carry the cross. But it’s surely enticing, like ants to sugar.
    Barry K

  15. 30 pmax June 2, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    HillSong a cult… come on, even the most studious Atheist would challenge your banter on this one. Yes they may have a strong message on prosperity but does that make it wrong. For every person who is over zealous into a prosperity message I can show you three who are on the other extreme into the poverty message.

    Personally I do not mind a prosperity message that is in balance, prosperity is or should be a message of hope. No one really wants to be broke and it is even more ridiculous to think that God wants you broke… another time for this message!

    Hillsong has produced more positive messages, music and ministry that some small blocks of denominational churches can fathom. Please fix your ministry and pray for your Pastor before you criticize another, Do not touch God’s anointed. Touch even means to speak against.

    pmax

    • 31 Meg June 3, 2009 at 4:11 am

      Dear Pmax,

      You’re misusing, “Do not touch God’s anointed”. He is not threating to physical harm the Hillsong Chrurch you know. Thats what it means.
      Heres a Link of correct meaning of “Do not touch God’s anointed”-

      http://www.letusreason.org/Pent47.htm

      http://truthsintheword.blogspot.com/2009/04/touch-not-gods-anointed.html

      http://www.watchman.org/reltop/acctblty.htm

      http://www.independentconservative.com/2008/02/26/touch_not/

      “Do not touch God’s anointed” dones not means to speak against someone nor to slander someone and IST never did it on this blog. You can speak against someone, (but whithout the slander), Biblicy:

      Matthew 7:15 KJV
      15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

      Galatians 1:6-9 KJV
      6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
      7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
      8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
      9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

      Matthew 18:15-16 KJV
      15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
      16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

      Romans 16:17 KJV
      17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

      2 Timothy 4:2-4 KJV
      2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
      3For the time will come when they will not endure sound
      doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
      4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

      Here’s some links that you can speak against someone, (but whithout the slander), Biblicy-

      http://forgottenword.org/naming-names.html

      http://www.atruechurch.info/falseteachers.html

      http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=2591

      http://www.cerm.info/false_teachers.htm

      http://777denny.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/woe-to-false-teachers-and-preachers-woe-to-them-that-follow-their-teachings/

      http://www.false-teachers.com

      Prosperity ‘gospel’ is NEVER a message of hope because there are very famous co-called ‘teachers’ are con-artists and they taking your money and spend it on themselves:

      Acts 8:18-24 KJV
      18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
      19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
      20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
      21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
      22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
      23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
      24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

      Timothy 6:10 KJV
      10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

      Amos 8:5 KJV
      5Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

      Matthew 6:24 KJV
      24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

      Luke 16:11 KJV
      11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

      1 Timothy 3:3 KJV
      3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

      1 Timothy 3:8 KJV
      8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

      Titus 1:11 KJV
      11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

      1 Peter 5:2 KJV
      2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

      1 Timothy 3 KJV
      1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
      2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
      3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
      4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
      5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
      6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
      7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
      8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
      9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
      10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
      11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
      12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
      13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
      14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
      15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
      16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

      Read also Malachi Chapter 3 it can really exposes the very famous co-called ‘teachers’ are con-artists who is taking your money and spend it on themselves.

  16. 33 Barry K June 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

    pmax,
    The gospel of Jesus is neither a message to be poor or rich.Both are a different and wrong gospel.The true gospel is of repentance from sin and salvation, found only in the cross of Calvary.The lamb of God who bled and died on Calvary is not telling us to be rich or poor, but He is pleading with us to repent of our sins ,deny ourselves,carry our cross and follow Him.It’s not a gospel of silver and gold.

    All genuine believers are anointed of the Holy Spirit and He guards their hearts from deception 1Jn2:20.The Bible also refers to Jesus as the anointed of God. You touch Him [The Anointed]and hurt Him, is when you alter His truth, when you dilute,adulterate,add,take away, compromise and twist the real message of His gospel and turn it into a different one. It’s pouring contempt on God’s sacrifice of His Son at Calvary.

    Barry K

  17. 34 Barry K June 3, 2009 at 9:04 am

    ‘As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received,he is to be accursed’ (Gal 1: 9 )Pretty strong language in this reminder from the Bible. Nothing said about not touching the ‘anointed’ preacher.

    Barry K

  18. 35 Meg June 20, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Hey!
    I found a book online about a woman who had previously attend the Hillsong Church and she’s exposing of how the church had her psychologically suffered from the stuff that they put her through.

    Book-
    People in Glass Houses: An insider’s story of a life in and out of Hillsong
    By Tanya Levin

    Her Book is at Amazon.com
    Here The Link-

  19. 36 Meg June 20, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Oh, on the book I found online, I beleive that the Hillsong church is more likely a cult as the editorial reviews’ description about the author’s life within the church. She had interviewed about her life inside the Hilsong Chruch here:

    http://www.religionnewsblog.com/23485/hillsong-cult-claims

    • 37 miss-melly June 24, 2009 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Meg,
      Be prayerful before reading that book, I am not a supporter of Hillsong but I have seen a lot of interviews in Australia with this lady, and there is something not quite right there, just stick to what the Word says.
      Love your Sister in Christ
      Melly

  20. 38 Frank July 1, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Hello.

    I recently attended a church where we modeled a lot of what we did after Hillsong. We did all of their music (in addition to a smattering of other songs, including our own). We even attempted to make our own albums and sell them under our own label.

    I invested more than a decade of my life into “serving the vision of the house”. I actually helped to start it with 30-some-odd others. There are a million things about it that I can recall that changed my life for the better–that much I can tell you.

    At the same time, I noticed a departure from the ideals and beliefs we had started with probably about 5 years into it. Teaching became more about life application than the Word, instead of the Word and how it was life applicable; tithing became a mandate for the immediate needs of the church, which were only visibly high tech and bleeding edge; getting people in the doors and “saved” was becoming more important than what happens after that (discipleship); and making sure you were willing to obey almost unquestioningly was more important than encouraging conversation, debate, and even reliance on what God says to a person him/herself.

    I ignored these warning signs. I believed I was just getting too arrogant, or “going against my leaders”… I avoided talking to others about it in a fear that I would be gossiping, or “dishonoring my leaders” by questioning them… I was very young in my understanding of church and God when we started.

    We (my wife and I) were heavily involved from the start. We attended every group, every event, and were in charge of quite a bit each in our own area. Eventually, I started to feel “used” and stretched too thin. But the pressure kept mounting. It never really ceased. And no one close to me was checking in to see if I was taking on too much… They just kept piling it on, because I was a get-it-done sort of leader.

    Of course, like so many other stories, I burned out. My wife and I spent about 18 months doing nothing more than attending some (not all) Sundays. We grew closer to God and one another.

    More recently, we got back involved, trying to be more careful–to put up boundaries on our time and its investment.

    It was then–after really digging into God personally–that we started to notice things that maybe we had “hunches” about before. People who disagreed with leadership were removed from leadership positions. Once removed, other leaders were discouraged from speaking with them. Whole families, who seemed to be the kind of people you would want to get to know, would just leave. When other leaders were asked why, the responses were ambiguous and dead-ended.

    We then received the first communication (from a family member of a previous attendee) about stuff that was going on behind-the-scenes. It was the first of many communications, then meetings, and then group discussions that my wife and I elected to have with different couples who had left or had felt “burned” by the church.

    I say all this because I believe cult like tendencies exist in these types of churches even when they’re good. It is important to honor leadership (or anarchy would ensue). It is important to avoid gossip or negative talk. But we, as humans, have to find a good and agreeable definition on “honoring” (read “not worshiping”) and “positive speak” (read “not detachments from reality”).

    But somewhere along the line, without the right checks and balances (the biblical model includes *multiple* elders/deacons who demonstrate houses in order given the authority to govern a church), a crippled republic becomes a monarchy, and a faulty monarchy becomes an autonomy, and that leads to a tyrannical dictatorship.

    I would say that Brian Houston appears to be flawed like everybody else. But the church is large enough and under enough scrutiny that he would be hard-pressed to have a cold beer at his home without a million people writing about it all over the press, let along run a full-on cult.

    More likely, poor representations of his subordinates are probably the ones to watch out for… People who have “trained” under him, or “worked” for him, who believe they get how to be a strong but biblical leader, and completely miss the mark.

    After all, our church is in a bit of a shambles as a result of that sort of leadership. I can speak to that FIRST HAND.

    I encourage all of us to rely FIRST on the strength of our personal relationship with God, not that of another… And I firmly agree with many who posted here that these types of mega churches are great “starter” churches in a sense, but rarely seem to cater to the increased responsibility, maturity, and demand for truth and understanding that accompanies a more mature and fruitful point in our Christian lives.

    Thanks for listening.
    Frank

    • 39 speaking truth July 1, 2009 at 10:21 am

      Thanks for sharing such a compelling story, Frank. I think the same can be said of many mega churches that “start off with good intentions, but…”. Your warning is one that we should all heed.

  21. 40 The Thinking Theologian July 5, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    It is, and it isn’t… check out my blog for an insider’s view on Hillsong.

  22. 41 Brian August 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    My experience as a follower of Jesus Christ for over 20 years is that large churches tend to offer excitement and the feeling of being part of something big & important, but they fall short in helping people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The truth is, as believers we’re already part of something big and exciting: the Kingdom of God! No need to chase after bigger & better experiences. We have fellowship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. That’s all we need.

    And may I add, that can be true of special events and conferences too. I’ve known many Christians who spent much time going to different events to ‘see what God’s doing over there.’ I did that too when I was less mature in the faith. Believers have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He’s always at work in our lives no matter what our surroundings or circumstances might be. Is that not the best experience of all on this side of heaven?

  23. 42 Michael August 12, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Brian, I agree with you. I’m at the point where Seeker Friendly “churches” make my stomach turn. Church is to be “cool” now and the “pastor” is supposed to be “hip”. And as far as conferences go? Dr.Feelgood and Dr.Degree don’t teach sound doctrine so tat Christians may grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They know that if they do that they will lose a following when they are no longer needed by their co-dependent followers. So they keep the carrot dangling in front of undiscerning Christians by promising a freedom (by attending their conference) that can only come from The Word Of God which they fail miserably to preach.

  24. 43 ber2 August 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    God can only judge people.Judging hillsong as a cult is unfair and subjective because we don’t know their entirety. If the questions are about their fund raising, business stuff and sort of God exploitation, we can answer that by not buying. We can download them for free and reproduce it. Just like what I’m doing. hehehe…I’m into the songs and its “biblical message” not to the singers or producers. Let’s keep in mind that God can only see the intention and hearts of people. Judging others is not giving glory to God. Read the Bible, don’t just listen.

  25. 45 ber2 August 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Church is a family not an organization…

  26. 47 johnson September 4, 2009 at 5:58 am

    hi guys i have read all that u have responded about hillsong, but the question on whether hillsong is a cult or not will be answered well by the fruit of the church.the bible says that we shall recognize them from their fruit.so we look at the people the church is producing and we conclude,remember our purpose on earth according to JESUS “to know him more and believe in the one he sent” i realy love hillsong praise and worsip music and they have spiritualy helped me so much but i have not listened yet to any of pastor brian sermons,thank you

  27. 48 It's Your Love that has saved me.. September 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I’ve listened to Hillsong quite some time and I was planning on attending their Hillsong conference in July ’10. I did a little bit of research today on their church and it seems like their pastor DOES preach the gospel message. We have to really pray for their church to become right with the Lord because their music ministry has brought many to Christ. I’d hate to see that ministry be destroyed or even become labeled as a Matthew 24:11 kind of deal..

    “and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

    Matthew 24:11

    PRAY for the Hillsong Church!

    Read Psalm 73..clearly contradicts the “prosperity gospel”

  28. 49 hopesome October 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hillsong church or Brians alter ego !

    Either way EGO is the spirit over hilsongs ministry. A pop culture that allows christian kids to have pop ‘in the name of Jesus’ Deception then is rife. Mega bucks the temptation and taking over bits of europe, south africa and britain when they get bored.

    I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU

    JESUS GOT ANGRY WITH THE PHARISEES WHO DISPLAYED THEIR WEALTH AND THREW ‘A WOBBLY IN THEIR TEMPLES’

    WATCH OUT HILLSONG

  29. 50 Vincent John October 11, 2009 at 9:48 am

    God commanded tithes to only be paid to Levites. These charismatic churches tell you dont rob God but they rob God because they are not Levites. So ALL their churches are built on money stolen from us which could have actually gone to poor sick people around the world, maybe thats why there is so much poverty and misery. These churches are taking the money to build bigger halls , more hi tech sound systems and then giving pittance back to the poor and sick. Its all very sick and what makes me angry is that most people are too stupid to read their Bibles and see that tithes are only for Levites and the guilt trip which they perpertrate upon people trying to find Jesus about robbing God is EVIL

  30. 51 G. October 25, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I think we as christians should be least bothered about the type of music churches play but rather be focused on honouring Him in everything that we do, which is an act of worship in itself. It is not the genre of music that makes it more ‘worship-like’ for that matter,it is not stated in the bible to what kind of music (tunes) is most biblical.. but it is the lyrics in the song and the heart that sings those words which makes it true Christian music that God will be pleased with :) And that’s when our hearts are right before Him, fully connecting with His spirit.
    “Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving God, and giving ourselves to be used for His purposes.” Rick Warren

    And regarding Hillsong, I attend Hillsong at the city campus and God has truly taught me many things through the sermons as well as the people/pastors whom God has led. I am also fully confident that God is moving in the church through the aid of the Holy Spirit and God is using this church and blessing this church to reach out to many lost souls out there. And by the word blessing, it may or may not be material-wise. God never intended the goal of our lives to have material prosperity or popular success, as the world defines it and we should never focus on temporary crowns, but our treasures are stored in Heaven :) So, being flawed like everyone else I am in no place to judge because what is the measure set by humans? It is nothing compared to the Almighty one! But personally, I would say God has used this church to bless many, including me.

    • 52 Caleb January 29, 2010 at 7:01 am

      G.
      I must say I completely agree with you. I was sad in my spirit, i was actually looking for some illustration for my sermon for the youth and I came along this. At first, it seemed OK to me. But as i scrolled down i saw that there was some things out of place. I Believe there are wrong things in any church, if not in yours, well in mine there are, come see. But for me, that’s what is all about, learning to honor God in every way. We have mistakes and try to correct them being moved by the Holy Ghost(i´m not sure its written like that, My English is a little rusty). I just wanna tell you about my young sheep, I am not full of wisdom nor I am great preacher of the word, but I know my sheep. The young guys that i live to bless tend to see each others flaw, and you see, that, for me is normal, but what I tell them when they have the urge of telling somebody off or judging each other´s decisions is :” Do not try to govern a life of other from your sofa, for it is so easy to govern other´s life and to choose always right, but when your facing the trouble they are facing, you might as well fall, so pray for them, that the Lord will bless them, and that the Holy Spirit will talk to them, and then, close your mouth, do not talk about it in front of the other sheep or people from the world (1 Corinthians 6:1). We care to talk about everything, everywhere not being aware of who and what we are. I found this on the internet, so could do anyone( And is started OK, but some of you have used it to truly criticize and Judge). Last night, a brother of my little church reminded me that we must LOVE each other Like Jesus loves us, and the world may see that Jesus is in us, and the Love of God spreads to everyone.
      Let´s make a difference… Lets not forget that our fight is not against a church, and never against Christ(who is Head of the global church). But that :
      Ephesians 6:12 (New King James Version)
      12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
      I love you all… Be really bless I hope you guys keep encouraging each other and that you will be most surprised with God´s blessings everyday. Nice talking to you All.. Be Blessed

  31. 53 former member January 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Hillsong is not a cult,unfortunately the way they deal with members who ask questions about their financial dealings or theology are treated like enemies because of private marketing companies involvement with the church.

    Its normal for any organisation to defend themselves from any allegations or false assumptions directed to them. Hillsong leaders are not perfect like all of us but their focus on the “prosperity gospel”message is a concern. We can not serve both God and money.

    Jesus said,no one can serve two masters.For you will hate one and love the other,you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money.(Mathew 6:24NLT)

  32. 54 Denny January 13, 2010 at 4:14 am

    The false church has always persecuted the True body of Christ.

    Flee denominalationalism and follow the Holy Spirit and the Word of God concerning how “church” is supposed to functionl. It is ALL still revelant, even though some have said Paul’s gospel, which Paul received from Yeshua HaMashiach, is not relevant since the cannonization of holy scripture. Read true history of the ‘Anabaptists.’ Question everything to its foundational level where everything is based upon.

    Thanks for listening,
    777denny

  33. 55 jim January 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    from what i know after 30 years of teaching and preaching the word is God has and order to his church that is not being followed by the church as a whole to have checks and blances so that man would not get in the way it clearly says first apostles than prophets than evanglist then pastors than teachers and it says it twice so that you understand so that this sort of thing does not go on .study to show your self apppoved

  34. 56 Layla March 29, 2010 at 1:06 am

    That is a lot of comments! I am going to see Hillsong in 3 weeks in concert. You know one that thing that is true is no matter what lives are being touched because of the wonderful TRUTH in the lyrics of their music. And it is a personal thing as we sing them to Jesus if we mean them or not… I have only listened to one sermon and did not care for it. Hillsong is my favorite band and I praise Jesus to the lyrics all the time…. so thank you Hillsong musicians for giving us such singable,real, powerful lyrics to sing to our God!

  35. 57 Jonah April 27, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Definitely a cult.

    They seek to overcome the reason centre of the brain using emotions. It is emotional Christianity… but towards what goal?

    Larger buildings, bigger ego’s and lots of money. I challenge you to look at a video of the Nuremburg rallies and a Hillsong concert… even their hands are raised up in salute.

    Now if you just feel a little love and open your wallet for the CD’s…. yesssss.


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