Hill$ong LA sheep-stealing fears

The Christian Post reports…

Despite assurances from Ben Houston that the Hillsong LA church he feels called to plant in Southern California will not “build on anyone else’s foundation,” some observers are concerned that the popular Australian megachurch’s expansion to the Golden State could mean a substantial loss of members for already-established churches in the area.

Hillsong Church founder and Senior Pastor Brian Houston shared in a blog post earlier this month, after making the announcement during weekend services, that his son, Ben, would be moving with his wife and three daughters at some point to begin tilling the ground for a new church plant. The ministry’s only U.S. congregation is in NYC, led by Pastors Carl Lentz and Joel Houston, the founding pastor’s other son.

“I know there are a lot of questions out there after the announcement, but the truth is we don’t really have the answers yet!” wrote Ben Houston in an update on the church startup. “We are still in the very early stages of planning. There is a stack of paperwork and immigration issues to sort through; and a lot to wrap up here in Sydney before we embark on this incredible journey.”

Among the few questions left in response to Houston’s update was one from a visitor named Jenna Thompson, who voiced concerns about the potential negative effects of a Hillsong Church in Los Angeles.

“There are plenty of churches in the Orange and Los Angeles Counties that will be swallowed whole when Hillsong LA arrives,” she wrote. “There are jobs that will be lost and pastors who will see their congregations dwindle. There are also plenty of larger churches as well [whose] pastors have spoken at your conferences, supported your endeavors and welcomed your church’s presence as a visit from overseas, all who will now see you as an unwanted threat.”

She added, “Even though there is plenty of praise being shouted your way and your intentions may be noble, is Hillsong Church ready for the backlash of this decision? Like the venture in NYC, how is this not just capitalizing on the popularity of Hillsong in the United States?”

Hillsong NYC officially launched in Feb. 2011 and currently welcomes about 5,500 worshippers to Sunday services. In addition to New York City Millennials making up much of that number, many high-profile figures and celebrities have been affiliated with the church.

Acknowledging the “amazing churches and ministries” and “world-class leaders, pastors, preachers, and friends” in Southern California, Houston insisted that he still could not shake the stirring in his heart that God has been calling him to “step out” and make the move.

“I don’t believe I (or Hillsong) has all the answers (sic). But I do trust Him with all of my heart. And I am naïve enough to believe that if He wants us to go… and we go… that amazing things can and will happen!” Houston responded.

“Lucille and I are so excited to join the fight WITH all of these amazing churches and ministries to do whatever we can to bring light in a pretty dark and broken city. There is ZERO intention to build on people from other churches and I’ll try to ensure if people come, that it’s with the blessing of their church.”

Houston added that while he is aware of how “God has graced Hillsong Church,” he was “not ashamed of that or going to deny God’s plan for me because of that.”

In addition to apprehension about a Hillsong LA church plant, there were supporters of the ministry who responded to the initial news from Senior Pastor Brian Houston with excitement, although an actual launch could potentially be years away.

“God is good and His timing is perfect!” Pastor Houston shared in the original blog post explaining the expansion of his ministry to Hollywood. “Los Angeles is a city of millions of people — people chasing broken dreams, people desperate for hope in a higher cause, people longing for meaningful relationships with one another. Hillsong Church is about all those things. It is about ‘welcoming home’ the lost, the broken, the hurting, and the lonely. It’s about connecting families; building purpose and value into everyONE and it is about seeing the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed everywhere — including the bright lights of big cities like LA.”

“Wow! This is so amazing!!! I just moved from Seattle to Costa Mesa, Calif., for college and have been looking for an amazing church to become a part of!” wrote one responder. “I’ve been raised listening to Hillsong worship music and Pastor Brian Houston. When Hillsong opened a church plant in NYC, I seriously considered moving there for college just to become a part of it! I’m beyond excited!! I can’t wait to become a part of Hillsong L.A. and see how God will use this church to impact the city of L.A.!!!”

Hillsong, known for its Hillsong United worship band whose iconic songs remain a staple in many Christian churches, has locations in London, Stockholm, South Africa, Barcelona and in other countries around the world. The Pentecostal megachurch also has six campuses and a dozen extension services across Australia.

Hillsong LA, apparently set to become the megachurch’s 11th non-Australian congregation, would join several other well-known churches already in Southern California, such as Pastor Greg Laurie’s Harvest Orange County, Pastor Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. Despite not yet having a physical location, the soon-to-be congregation has already attracted more than 7,000 followers and supporters across its social networks.

Hillsong Church was founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983 as Sunday night outreach meetings that initially attracted a few dozen people. Now, the Sydney megachurch, affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Assemblies of God in Australia) is the country’s largest and hosts over 30,000 worshippers every weekend.”

From http://www.christianpost.com/news/will-los-angeles-area-churches-be-swallowed-whole-when-hillsong-arrives-105046/

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22 thoughts on “Hill$ong LA sheep-stealing fears

  1. Old Dude and others on this site love to pull the why doesn’t Hillsong plant church’s in small areas. My answer to this has and always will be that you have a distorted view of Hillsong Church and what the church is. When did the church become the building? Isn’t it the people and aren’t Hillsong reaching individuals? As I’ve already stated by running a television ministry they actually do already have churches planted all around Australia and the globe. I know friends of mine who live out in Wondai who regularly stream there services online for church. They wouldn’t have had a different experience then if they actually attended Hillsong Brisbane this Sunday which also streamed the service to the venue from Sydney. (There was 2-3 gathered and God was in the midst of them 🙂

    The important thing isn’t where they plant the church our world has become ever more connected through media and how a church functions and operates is completely different from what it was even just 5 years ago.

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  2. Greg, without seeing the video, it could still be 3rd hand. We don’t know how it was said, and by whom, and if they were saying it as first hand info or 2nd hand info. (for instance it could be an official statement, or a comment by someone eg one of the circuit preachers)

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  3. “Maybe, the point isn’t who is right… its how passionate and sold out the christians are at Hillsong.”

    Oh dear, with that logic anyone could justify almost anything.

    Lets just throw out Truth (what did Jesus say of Himself)

    BTW SnL I do not think anyone is denying that Hillsong makes donations to worthy causes. The problem is with the money focus and teaching that follows another Jesus. (eg Not Truth, But Passion is important verses Jesus’ teaching that He is the Way, The Truth and the Life)

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  4. Thank you SnL – I apologise for my doubting the truth of what you said. I didn’t thnik you were making it up – just that I doubted your source…which turns out to be first hand so I take back what i said.

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  5. Well the video’s been taken down.

    So you’re information re Iraq is second/ third hand or you know as much as us. (No info I could find on AoG in Iraq let alone Baghdad or is that Hillsong Baghdad where churches are facing immense persecution)

    I can watch a Benny Hinn video. Someone will see it as a miracle. I will see it as complete fraud.

    Hmmmm who to believe…..

    Yeah it’s just a matter of perspective, isn’t it.

    The rose coloured glasses dude are yours.

    Good to see you’ve identified yourself as a blind believer.

    At least you’re honest.

    its how passionate and sold out the christians are at Hillsong.

    Yep so sold out, that if the hip band and bright lights disappeared they’d disappear like cockroaches in a lit room.

    Pretty funny trying to identify yourself with Jesus and the disciples but the JWs do that too.

    Here’s a tip.

    Instead of giving money to a multi million dollar industry, why not give it to a charity that actually does good in the world and save some real lives.

    (Yeah, yeah you won’t be blessed and need to pay for that new album)

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  6. “It still isn’t a situation of Hillsong moving to Iraq”. Hang on a second… I thought the Church was the people and not the building? Unless of cause Hillsong isn’t the church? That’s right… we’ve had this conversation before.

    The discussion went something along the lines of what makes something big vs small and then location became an issue (talking about Hillsong Noosa). Seeing we couldn’t reach agreement on that front because you couldn’t handle my comparison fitting your exact mould we then talked about Hillsong TV and the fact that you could really go to Hillsong church in your lounge room or a prison cell or in any of the other 180+ countries in the world. For example Hillsong Brisbane and Groupsects both had the saw the same 30 year video stream and one called it Church while the other called it Lucrative love offering.

    At the end of the day rose coloured glasses seem to be the cup of tea that’s being served around here so I’d better pipe down before someone tells me that pentecostal aussies like me don’t read the Bible and are 99% passion and 1% brain (and that 1% of brain is filled up with lies about tithing;-)

    Couldn’t help myself.

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  7. I love the cynicism and the second guessing. I mean surely Hillsong couldn’t be generous… after all aren’t the just a profit hungry church that fleeces its sheep;-) I found out this information by attending the church and not from the second hand spin that is distributed in the media including sites like this (which is one of the reasons I come back to this site to hopefully a voice of truth amongst a pile high of lies). It was on one of their videos celebrating their 30th Birthday that were talking about the many initiatives that Hillsong has given to. This is only one example of the church’s generosity and they continue to support on an ongoing basis A21, India and the countless other organisations and causes.

    One says greedy and the other says sacrificial. Who to believe? The cynic with the 2nd hand info. or the so called blind believer who can’t see past his own prejudices. Maybe, the point isn’t who is right… its how passionate and sold out the christians are at Hillsong. Blinded by their love of Jesus who gave it all for them that they would make unthinkable sacrifices to see his name proclaimed. Kind of reminds you of Jesus and his disciples… and it definitely makes you uncomfortable.

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  8. snl, it still isn’t a situation where Hillsong moving into Iraq, but rather a one off donation, which most wealthy organisations do from time to time. Hill$ong has done different sizable donations many times over the years, but never heard Brian giving such a large sum.

    Just remember that Hill$ongs reported $50+ million profit is after all these donations and if it was Hill$ong that gave this 500K then its a less than 1% of income donation in one particular year.

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  9. Was it Brian that gave the $500K? That would be impressive.

    Yes Bones, I could not find anything either about the AOG church in Iraq. You may be very right about it becoming Hill$ong Baghdad sometime in the future.

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  10. “Didn’t get much news”

    I’ll say. I can’t find anything about an AoG church in Iraq.

    So how long till we get to hear from Hillsong Baghdad?

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  11. Funny we are talking about money and Cairo. A number of years ago Brian gave an Iraqi AOG pastor $500,000 to purchase a building and run a ministry in Bahgdad. Didn’t get much news…. Maybe we should let Jesus build his church and let Christians at Hillsong continue to sacrificially give of themselves in every way including their time, wealth and love… because maybe they’ve encountered a Savior who gave ever so much more then words can explain and maybe they don’t care about what mankind think or say about there radical devotion to Jesus and his Bride.

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  12. I think that some of those churches who fear being swallowed whole or are currently struggling with what they have or with their own identity will just choose to become part of it…

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  13. They always attract Christians who are unhappy in their own churches and are looking for something new – from my experience and that of others who are currently in the movement that is still happening.

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  14. No big deal. They are applying their business model. Of course they are going to plant new churches, under the Hillsong franchise, in areas where their church will have better consumer appeal and more customers, where ever those customers may come from. The goal will be a Hillsong church on every street corner. But has the Gospel message been lost in the business model. Is it good food for the soul or a squashed cheesburger.

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  15. But Bones, they need to build up money so God can use them to bless others. Cairo would simply not do. That would be going out into the world to spread the gospel, and they have been called to amass wealth to bless. You know amass wealth so they can build more churches in wealthy&safe areas to amass more wealth so they can build …… and so on.

    Cairo will have to wait till there are more christians there to fill the pews&baskets. Oh and until its safer also.

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  16. The following is a true story.

    “Many years ago, WalMart was building a new store in our small town.

    Before they opened, two representatives of the corporation stopped by the local pharmacy and informed the proprietor that he might as well close his doors now.

    The size and buying power of the giant was going to put him out of business.

    He informed them otherwise and showed them the door.

    He weathered the storm…personal service and knowing your customer still mattered here.

    Today, he is still in business and prospering, the WalMart is closed.

    The following is a composite story happening all over the country.

    The town is small and so are it’s churches.

    Most of the churches have been there quite some time and the pastors have been faithful in serving though the ground is hard and the reward has been small.

    Those pastors have no grandiose vision…no vision to be anything but faithful to those they have been called to serve in numbers many or few.

    It is a difficult, holy, and noble calling.

    In the larger town….twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy miles away, sits the mega church.

    That pastor does have grandiose visions…his church is large, therefore he must be one of God’s special messengers.

    He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.

    Just look at the numbers…

    The “special” one will go to the small town…not in person, mind you, but he will bring a video screen and perhaps some musicians and show them all how it’s really done.

    He will pipe his face and his sermons in via that screen and his minions will provide coffee and comfortable seating.

    This is called a “planting a church”.

    What it really is could be described as “ecclesiastical imperialism”, “corporate arrogance”, or my preferred term, which is best left unwritten.

    Many of these “church plants” will fail, but only after stripping some people from each of those faithful, small churches and making the struggle for those left behind that much more difficult.

    Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.

    God forbid that the anointed ones simply come alongside a work already there…or go to some place like South Dakota where they actually need new churches.

    No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.

    This is a call to resistance, to see this trend for what it really is, which is nothing more than “ecclesiastical imperialism’”…a corporate takeover of the local church and all it stands for and provides to the local community.

    Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.

    Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.”

    Like

  17. The following is a true story.

    “Many years ago, WalMart was building a new store in our small town.

    Before they opened, two representatives of the corporation stopped by the local pharmacy and informed the proprietor that he might as well close his doors now.

    The size and buying power of the giant was going to put him out of business.

    He informed them otherwise and showed them the door.

    He weathered the storm…personal service and knowing your customer still mattered here.

    Today, he is still in business and prospering, the WalMart is closed.

    The following is a composite story happening all over the country.

    The town is small and so are it’s churches.

    Most of the churches have been there quite some time and the pastors have been faithful in serving though the ground is hard and the reward has been small.

    Those pastors have no grandiose vision…no vision to be anything but faithful to those they have been called to serve in numbers many or few.

    It is a difficult, holy, and noble calling.

    In the larger town….twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy miles away, sits the mega church.

    That pastor does have grandiose visions…his church is large, therefore he must be one of God’s special messengers.

    He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.

    Just look at the numbers…

    The “special” one will go to the small town…not in person, mind you, but he will bring a video screen and perhaps some musicians and show them all how it’s really done.

    He will pipe his face and his sermons in via that screen and his minions will provide coffee and comfortable seating.

    This is called a “planting a church”.

    What it really is could be described as “ecclesiastical imperialism”, “corporate arrogance”, or my preferred term, which is best left unwritten.

    Many of these “church plants” will fail, but only after stripping some people from each of those faithful, small churches and making the struggle for those left behind that much more difficult.

    Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.

    God forbid that the anointed ones simply come alongside a work already there…or go to some place like South Dakota where they actually need new churches.

    No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.

    This is a call to resistance, to see this trend for what it really is, which is nothing more than “ecclesiastical imperialism’”…a corporate takeover of the local church and all it stands for and provides to the local community.

    Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.

    Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.”

    http://michaelnewnham.com/?p=14005

    Like

  18. Still amazes me that God doesn’t lead Brian to the lesser sized & evangelised areas of the USA or elsewhere in the world. Why these very financially well off areas that have Christians all over the place. Surely its not because its not God’s calling.

    Like

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