Today Tonight & Hillsong

By freak chance, I just saw the Today Tonight report on Hillsong. Both Steve West, Phil Powell and Xenophon were interviewed as Today Tonight unashamedly ripped into Hillsong.

Hillsong takeover @ Yahoo! Video

Edit: Here is a note from Brian and Bobby Houston

(From: )

Bobbie’s and My Finances… A letter from Brian Houston.

Well, friend, you might need to get yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable to read this…

Hillsong Church has always been about God and People. Every day we hear wonderful stories about how this church is directly impacting the lives of people both here in Australia, and abroad.

Some may wonder why I would put all of this (below) in writing… The truth is, Hillsong’s profile means that there are levels of scrutiny on myself and my family, which quite frankly, does not seem consistent with any other minister of religion or charity CEO in Australia. For that reason, I want to share with you a bit about my world and perhaps bring some clarity to areas of our ministry that you may or may not have wondered about…


Leadership Ministries Incorporated (LMI) is the entity by which Bobbie and I conduct our broader ministry, outside of Hillsong Church here in Australia. LMI was originally established in the interest of good governance, as the advice we received from professionals recommended that best practice was to draw a clear line between the activities of Hillsong Church in Sydney and our broader ministry, including itinerant speaking and travel. LMI was set up with the blessing of our board, as a way of releasing Bobbie and I to our wider leadership calling outside of this, our church home, in Sydney. LMI is the best vehicle to allow us to do what we do.

In recent times, LMI has (along with many other religious organisations) been one of the not-for-profits reviewed by the Australian Tax Office and just a few weeks ago, received continued endorsement as a not-for-profit ministry. There are many such models of ministry within Australia and following our professional advice we have been assured more than once (including by the tax department) that LMI is an appropriate vehicle for the unique ministry that Bobbie and I do, outside the walls of Hillsong Church. We are very blessed to have the opportunity to speak and preach at churches and conferences all over the world, though our congregation and those of you that know us well know that my first love is building this House, Hillsong Church.


My total personal income from Hillsong Church in its entirety is just on $150,000 including fringe benefits plus currently the use of a Holden Caprice, along with just over another $150,000 from Leadership Ministries which makes up my complete personal income. (If you want to get really personal, I drive a Holden, Bobbie drives a three-year-old Audi Q7, and I ride a motorbike). All of LMI’s income is generated through Bobbie’s and my ministry endeavours, including our writing, resources and speaking to Christian leadership groups and conferences. Both Hillsong Church and LMI have separate boards that determine my personal income – Bobbie and I are not a part of those decisions and in fact, no one from our family serves on the LMI board. The nominated salary for both Bobbie and I from the Hillsong Church Board is significantly more than what we choose to accept, though we made the choice to forego much of our nominated salary for many years. The existence of LMI also increases the opportunity for finance to go towards the Church and other related causes that we are so passionate about.


The two properties owned by LMI are a part of the ministry and their use is in line with ministry purposes. One of these properties has permanent tenants and the rent goes directly back into LMI. The other is a one-bedroom apartment in Bondi. Both of these properties were included in the ATO’s recent re-endorsement of the ministry.

Almost ten years ago, Bobbie and I owned two properties that were effectively being used for the work of our ministry. One, in the Hawkesbury, was regularly used for church get-togethers, church activities, and it is used as a ministry retreat as well as for family time. In Bondi, we invested in a one-bedroom apartment that we often used, in-line with our responsibilities at the Hillsong City Campus. I held appointments there; we entertained people and visiting ministers and used it as a quiet place for personal study. Its close proximity to the airport is a great blessing to me. Eight to ten years ago, we were in a position where we could no longer afford to keep these properties and upon deciding to sell them, the board of LMI recognised that they were a valuable asset for the purpose of the ministry. After receiving professional advice, the board unanimously agreed and purchased these properties at the independently evaluated current market price. Bobbie and I paid personal tax on the profit of the sale and the Australian Tax Office have reviewed the use of these properties for ministry purposes, similar to an Anglican vicarage or a Catholic rectory.


When Bobbie or I travel, the inviting church or ministry pays all related travel costs, including airfares – which is a normal practice in churches and ministries throughout the world. If we travel personally, then it is paid for personally. The only time travel would be paid for by Hillsong Church is if we were specifically travelling to represent the church, with the full knowledge of the board and elders. (Also, when Hillsong United travels on behalf of Hillsong Church, including when I have travelled with them, all income goes back to Hillsong Church.)

When I travel overseas to churches, I do not receive any money personally…that’s right…none. I do not charge a fee for my speaking engagements or for visiting churches or conferences and no offerings or honorariums go to Bobbie and I personally. Now, people often give ‘love offerings’, but every offering and honorarium that is given goes to LMI and therefore, towards the initiatives and work of the ministry. It is a not-for-profit religious organisation whose objectives are to spread the Christian message through our teaching and leadership ministry.


Bobbie also, as you all know, works many long hours and oversees the vision of the Hillsong Sisterhood within our own church and internationally, as well as carrying the weight of her role as a Senior Pastor and gets paid for what she does – though, her income is significantly less than mine. It is important to note that when Bobbie, myself or other Hillsong pastors speak at any of our global church campuses (such as London, Cape Town, etc) we do not personally receive offerings and nor does LMI. These congregations are an extension of our church home.


Though it was a vulnerable moment for us, we told all of this to the Channel Seven Sunday Night program over the past few months and have heard more than one time since (in unofficial comments from both the network and the tax office) that my income is relatively modest in proportion to the size of the work and scale of responsibility that we have. The innuendos that suggest Bobbie, myself and our children are profiting off people’s tithes is completely false. Our children, Joel, Ben, and Laura have all taken their own individual journeys and have specific roles within church life to which they contribute in an employment capacity. Joel, Ben and Laura are treated exactly the same way as our other staff and their remuneration reflects that. (They receive no special benefits and it was unfair that they were brought into a recent nasty media attack.) Neither Leadership Ministries Inc. nor Hillsong Church has made any direct or indirect investment into properties on behalf of any of the Houston children. Thank God our children have grown up to be creative, hardworking, confident individuals who love God and love to serve in this House.


I know that you realise, and those of you that are a part of our world know, that the inferences that people are pressured to give money have no foundation – tithing is and has always been a biblical principal that we live by and one that we stand by. Nobody is expected to give; giving at Hillsong Church is entirely free will and is treated as a private and personal matter. You could attend Hillsong Church for ten years, give nothing, and be treated the same as everybody else.


Undoubtedly, there is a push from some quarters of society to tax churches – which would mean that across the nation; hundreds of millions of dollars that currently goes toward helping people, including the poor, disenfranchised and hurting, would no longer be able to do so. 

I have never personally been a campaigner for fringe benefits (allowances for pastors and charity workers) and though it is clear that it translates into more money being able to go into the good work of ministry; I would not personally be adverse to the amount of non-taxable fringe benefits being capped at certain income levels.

Hillsong Church pastors pay personal income tax and in fact pay more in taxation than they would otherwise be legally obliged to. We do not rely on the full tax exemptions that other religious organisations rely upon in the conduct of their affairs and that are legally available to us.


I have said many times that I would welcome a Charities Commission and have raised that possibility to both political leaders and church leaders. I believe that a body such as a Charities Trust or Commission, who worked pro-actively with non-profits and churches, would be helpful to high-profile churches, such as Hillsong, who take our commitment to proper practice in governance very seriously; yet are too often subject to misguided and unfair and cowardly attacks.

Obviously, the structure, terms and parameters of any Charities Commission are important and I believe this body should not be a ‘watchdog’ but a proactive body that can work with the charities and non-profits in establishing a uniquely Australian model.

I believe that Hillsong would have nothing to fear from such a body and it would be helpful in protecting us from being the “tall poppy” victim of misguided innuendo. Hillsong London has operated under the UK Charities Trust for many years and has found it to be a relatively helpful and proactive body.

Bobbie and I are grateful to God for His blessing, have both worked hard for over 35 years and I believe it has been through wise investment and consistency that we have seen our lives grow. We are very committed to living by the same principles of giving and generosity that we teach others and one of the great blessings of LMI has been to enable us each year to contribute significantly to the Hillsong Foundation and other missions, causes and outreaches that are passionately focused on helping people. We are blessed and I would want the same for anyone else in our position and stage of life. When, 27 years ago, we started Hillsong Church, the furthest thing from our mind was financial gain, in fact, we put everything on the line then and we have that same view today.

We are so blessed as a church family and I thank God that we are surrounded by generous people who love to see the work of the Lord go forward…

So, THANK YOU Hillsong Church, for your love for God and your love for people. I pray you always feel loved, valued and confident in the church family you are a part of and more importantly, in the God whom we serve.

Love, Brian

140 thoughts on “Today Tonight & Hillsong

  1. I watched this. Australian media should be ashamed of themselves. I can’t believe the things they get away with reporting. “forced to hand over up to 70% of their weekly pay…” Give me a break! I would hope even their biggest critics would be able to to see what a sham the media in this country is.

  2. I think if people enjoy the show and entertainment this church provides-then more power to them if they charge/receive offerings.

    I have to say IM LMAO that Christians cant even agree and be united when J.C prayed that they would be one.

  3. I wouldn’t rely on Today Tonight for an objective report on anything. They rely on sensationalism.

    We can all make up our own minds about Hillsong, but I wouldn’t take Today Tonight very seriously about my worst enemy.

  4. The open letter was worth a read.

    I am sure that Brian and Bobbie live according to what they teach, and that they don’t do anything illegal. I think they are clearly very good at what they do. I think the problem comes down to whether you agree with prosperity doctrine or not; if you don’t, then you will never agree with one of Hillsong’s and the Houston’s main emphasis.

    In his letter, Brian stated that people can go for 10 years and give nothing, and no one will treat them any differently. He said that no one is pressured to give. This might depend on what sort of things we view as pressure. Obviously if we disagree with tithing teaching, we will view it alone as a kind of pressure, even without offerings being mentioned multiple times during services etc.

    He also mentioned that family members get no special treatment. That is also probably true. It is just that so many family members seem to be employed in these megachurch businesses. Hillsong is not the only one. Look at the Crystal Cathedral for another prominent example.

  5. I would say in that letter, they nearly accidentally lie straight-up:

    “Hillsong Church has always been about God and People.”

    Shouldn’t it read:
    “Hillsong Church has always been about God, MONEY and People.”

    I’m sure we all saw that opening clip of the TT Hillsong coverage.

    I don’t agree with this either:

    “I know that you realise, and those of you that are a part of our world know, that the inferences that people are pressured to give money have no foundation – tithing is and has always been a biblical principal that we live by and one that we stand by.”

    Lie. If people don’t “doctrinally” give, they are cursed with a curse, ‘robbing God’, or seen by others as having a ‘poverty mind set’. There is pressure also to give due to crowd dynamics. (And don’t they have massive holes in the bucket to not encourage change?)

    “Nobody is expected to give; giving at Hillsong Church is entirely free will and is treated as a private and personal matter. You could attend Hillsong Church for ten years, give nothing, and be treated the same as everybody else.

    Half truth. Hillsong is known as a prosperity church because of the belief: ‘Give and you shall be blessed’. They teach ‘if you give, you receive’. If God offers you the world in the future, what do you think you are EXPECTED to give now?

    The claims I’ve always had against Hillsong is their accountability to it’s members. This letter has given me a lot of hope towards Hillsong. If only they are that much more transparent to it’s congregations and the wider community, a lot of the ammunition against them will be taken away. That is a good thing.

    Two major things now seem to remain on the agenda:
    1. Their dangerous theologies.
    2. Their association to ministers overseas and who they invite to influence their congregations and the Autralian churches at their conferences. (T.D Jakes and Ed Young.)

    BTW Teddy. Typing Ed Young’s name reminded me of Chris Roseborough’s radio commentary on him. How do you think Roseborough would go on what is said about Hillsong at the moment? Do you think he’d like to analyse some of these letters?

  6. @Specks – Chris has about 20,000 sermons he could review, good, bad and ugly. His focus is the emergent,then the seeker sensitve. He attends as many emergent conferences as he can becaause he’s doing his master’s thesis on this group (and their inherent dangers).

    I sent him a sermon from C3 about 2 years ago that he critiqued on Dave Gilpin – the “man boobs” guy.

  7. Today Tonight lacks journalistic integrity in everything they do. Same old story..same old pictures…

    I mean, they were showing aerial shots of mansions in Vaucluse and then the voiceover says ‘Brian and Bobbie hold properties of estimated 1.5 million dollars…’ WHAT KIND OF WATERFRONT PROPERTIES ARE YOU BUYING FOR 1.5 million???? Maybe the journalist doesn’t own her own home or hasn’t looked at the Sydney real estate listings recently…1.5 isn’t going to get you much on the water these days…

    I liked Brian’s letter…I mean, how much more can he really tell us? Now that you’ve got the transparency from Hillsong are you going to start going after the same level of demand from the CEO of Salvation Army, Scientology, George Pell, Jensen? As far as I can tell, they’ve never posted info about their homes/cars/travel anywhere! Why the inconsistancy in your criticism?

  8. @specksandplanks your ignorance is showing through again. hope this video helps clear up your “large holes in the buckets” claim. Mostly everything said on here is accusations and hearsay which when it comes down to it is simply gossip…

    RE: Hillsong Offering Bucket Holes

  9. To Adam, you can’t claim me being ignorant since your stupidity overtook your fingers to write this:

    “hope this video helps clear up your “large holes in the buckets” claim.”

    I made no claim, but asked the question ‘And don’t they have massive holes in the bucket to not encourage change?’. I wasn’t sure if they did this now, as I’ve heard people say.

    They used to have buckets with tiny holes ages ago, but not with the agenda to prevent coins going in.

    Don: “I mean, they were showing aerial shots of mansions in Vaucluse and then the voiceover says ‘Brian and Bobbie hold properties of estimated 1.5 million dollars…’ WHAT KIND OF WATERFRONT PROPERTIES ARE YOU BUYING FOR 1.5 million????”

    I saw that too and thought the same thing you did Don. And Don, if you have any interesting articles, we are more then open to look at the ‘CEO of Salvation Army, Scientology, George Pell, Jensen’.

    I am currently aware of some situations in the Anglican church at the moment and am looking more into the emerging church movement, while articles are being put up on the way.

  10. Just watched the video. It was one sided in the sense that it mentioned that Hillsong raises millions of dollars, but made no attempt to detail what that money is spent on. From the report, you wouldn’t know if that money went on feeding the hungry, or buying multi-million dollar mansions.

    I thought Steve West was quite reasonable, and his comments about his experiences weren’t overly sensational.

    As Don says, the aerial shots of waterfront housing, and talk of $1.5M of property didn’t correlate. Houses on Sydney waterfront cost far more than that. Two properties in Sydney in middle class locations could easily add up to 1.5 million.

    However, more transparency would be helpful to both Hillsong and its critics. The Salvation Army etc all post annual reports on their websites where anyone can look at them. It would be good if Hillsong did the same.

    I did wonder how Brian Houston could rack up $1M of annual expenses. Transparency on that sort of thing could be very helpful to Hillsong as well.

    Churches that advertise material wealth as success as a sign of God’s blessing by displaying that wealth will always be controversial amongst the community who understand Jesus messsage was not about literal material wealth, but rather richness of relationship with God, with others, and eternal life. There will always be a problem perceived where a pastor has a wealthy lifestyle that is beyond the majority of the community, particularly where that is perceived as being due to encouraging less well off and sometimes vulnerable people to give in order to receive blessings, or due to income from business activities marketed as a result of that funding.

  11. @specksandplanks you’re right I’m sorry, that was not your claim. But instead of reporting things you heard, why not report on something that gives glory to God? The closest thing I’ve seen to that on this blog was a baby announcement.

  12. I noticed that Flamethrower. The 70% turned to 10%.
    But they said that Steve gave up 70% of his income as he studied at Hillsong.

    I wondered if it could have been a huge blooper. A written 1 can look like a 7.

    Surely, this is going to get a mention on Media Watch for shocking journalism, (9:20pm Monday, ABC).

  13. Flamethrower: “No doubt at all that it was a seven, in Times New Roman, bold!”

    Yeah. But I’m talking about someone writing 10% on a piece of paper and then a person doing the graphics interpret it to be a 70%. I’ve done that. And it was overlooked by the boss.

    I am kinda worried about Hillsong now. I’ve really been praying about this. I’m planning to write a complaint to channel 7. I’d encourage others to do the same if they think strongly on this too.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if others have already done this.

  14. Things I do not think they are fully being transparent about in their letter:

    1. “Hillsong Church has always been about God and People.”

    Not true. Hillsong preach the Prosperity Gospel and it’s many doctrines. The statement should read as follows:

    “Hillsong Church has always been about God, the Building, Blessing and People.”

    2. “The truth is, Hillsong’s profile means that there are levels of scrutiny on myself and my family, which quite frankly, does not seem consistent with any other minister of religion or charity CEO in Australia.”

    Xenophon seems to know why. Surely Houston would know his critics would scrutinise his ministry – a false gospel is preached for lucre’s sake. It’s quite reasonable that if the money gospel is focused on money, then the community would be concerned how those who preach it may be living.

    3. “My total personal income from Hillsong Church in its entirety is just on $150,000 including fringe benefits plus currently the use of a Holden Caprice, along with just over another $150,000 from Leadership Ministries which makes up my complete personal income.”

    Fairly emotive here. Houston earns JUST about $150,000 with JUST another $150,000.. Not much at all when it’s JUST $300,000. The use of language is always intriguing in letters like this.

    4. “Both Hillsong Church and LMI have separate boards that determine my personal income – Bobbie and I are not a part of those decisions and in fact, no one from our family serves on the LMI board.”

    I think the question has been raised before on SP02, does the board submit to the CEO Pastor, or does the CEO submit to the board? What relation does this play on the board?

    We just saw George Aghajanian write a letter that defended Houston on behalf of the Elders and Board of Hillsong church to contain the issue and prevent further damage with the congregations possible views on Hillsong. I see no real wrong thing with what George did, but it makes me question who submits to who in this hierarchical church leadership.

    If the boards are submitting to CEO pastor Houston of Hillsong because of the mentality ‘Give and you shall receive a Prophet’s reward’, this could explain the LMI boards decision below:

    “Eight to ten years ago, we were in a position where we could no longer afford to keep these properties and upon deciding to sell them, the board of LMI recognised that they were a valuable asset for the purpose of the ministry. After receiving professional advice, the board unanimously agreed and purchased these properties at the independently evaluated current market price. Bobbie and I paid personal tax on the profit of the sale and the Australian Tax Office have reviewed the use of these properties for ministry purposes, similar to an Anglican vicarage or a Catholic rectory.”

    This is mere speculation. But I can’t help but see this to be a very plausible case.

    “Now, people often give ‘love offerings’, but every offering and honorarium that is given goes to LMI and therefore, towards the initiatives and work of the ministry.”

    Like those lovely ‘ministry’ places in Bondi? Once again, a ‘speck’ulative comment. But it is something I noted.

    5. “It is a not-for-profit religious organisation whose objectives are to spread the Christian message through our teaching and leadership ministry.

    But the ‘Christian message’ and ‘teaching’ are highly questionable by scholars to be Christian ‘teachings’. How similar are Paul’s Christian teaching’s to that of Brian Houston? One’s theology, the other is motivational. I’d like to know if Houston could do a better motivational talk then the Dalai Lama. If he did start teaching sold Christian messages, how many people would actually stay or leave?

    6. “I know that you realise, and those of you that are a part of our world know, that the inferences that people are pressured to give money have no foundation – tithing is and has always been a biblical principal that we live by and one that we stand by. Nobody is expected to give; giving at Hillsong Church is entirely free will and is treated as a private and personal matter.”

    This is wrong! People ARE pressured to give money. Te foundation of this pressure is founded on a twisted scripture (Mal 3:8-10). This unbiblical principal puts pressure people on people to give because they do not want to be ‘robbing God’, ‘cursed by God’ or devoured by the devour. The pressure is also on ‘testing God’. To tithe is to break a ‘poverty mindset’, as the TT opened with Houston saying! In their doctrine, to not tithe is to rob God, be cursed, be destroyed by the devourer, to have a poverty mindset, to miss the blessings of God, to lose faith. (And depending on your doctrine, to lose faith you lose your salvation.)

    There is too much pressure to NOT hold back in giving, but very disastrous but convincing reasons why you should give.

    7. “You could attend Hillsong Church for ten years, give nothing, and be treated the same as everybody else.”

    I’ll quote Lionfish who posted this on Groupsects. He’s right: “Bullshit. What about the Kingdom Builders program?”

    There is also a bit of unease when you do say you do not tithe because it’s not biblical. People do avoid you or do treat you differently if you don’t think or do the same things. It can be quite a peculiar feeling. Sometimes the religious Hillsonger will try outreach to you to tithe or puff out their chest feeling they are more blessed then you. In this instance, you are not treated the same.

    Overall. I am very happy with the letter. I apprecite the transparency he has given. If only they’d answered their critics. And if only the critics weren’t so rude (that could apply to me too!).

    I hope things improve from here onwards with Hillsong.

  15. The 70% was 70% I think, and it was sensationalism.

    Nonetheless, I remember when I was a student, pledging 30% of my pre-tax income to the C3 church building fund, before taking the tithe into account. I didn’t realise at the time. I was looking at the rather pathetic actual $ figure I was giving, and it just didn’t seem adequate next to the large donations I was hearing about from other people, even though my income was very small relative to theirs. Even though I’d read about the widow’s mite, I just didn’t apply it to myself – it seemed wrong. Years later, thinking back, I realised the % I’d pledged. No wonder I found it impossible at the time! Obviously it was based more on emotion and wishful thinking about my giving than on a realistic assessment of what I could manage. And of course it was in faith (but I don’t think that faith was the real deal). So I can well imagine how someone else on a low income like a student would pledge more than they realise, in a desire to back a project in some meaningful way.

  16. The issue that I have here relates to the degree of “truth” which is being told by Brian and the Hillsong Leadership.

    Brian now states that “My total personal income from Hillsong Church in its entirety is just on $150,000 including fringe benefits plus currently the use of a Holden Caprice…”

    Yet in the story which was run in August 2005 on the ABC about Hillsong, Brian stated:

    “We’re paid a wage that’s set by the board of the church. And it’s a good wage but the average private high school teacher in New South Wales gets paid significantly more”.

    The transcript of this story is at this link:

    So was Brian of the opinion back in 2005 that an average private school teacher in NSW was earning well over $100K+ per annum or has Hillsong massively increased Brian’s salary over the last 5 years?

    Now my understanding of Steve West’s concerns are as follows (Note: I have quoted Steve’s comments below from his now closed myspace blog from several years ago):

    “The real clincher came when I agreed to see the accounts. hillsong had always told me that they were open for inspection. The critics warned me that this was the real test…they had to show me hard figures, or the whole thing was just a con.

    So I arranged to meet up with George Aghajainian.

    My meeting confirmed my worst fears.

    I was never shown the figures, I was given the run around. They referred to other sources, they described what money was used for. They did everything but show me in figures specifically where the money went”.

    So would George be willing to answer all of Steve’s concerns / questions now ?

  17. “Why the defence of Seven? Why not just agree it was a grossly misleading claim on their part amongst a number of badly presented claims?”

    I am looking at the possibilities. I am not in the least impressed in the way Channel 7 conducted themselves.

    Flamethrower: “Let me speculate, since this seems to be the trend here.”

    Due to their lack of transparency, speculation is the best we got to go on. I do hope they give a lot to ‘Kingdom purposes’ too. But why couldn’t they be this transparent to begin with. They’re only forced to reveal this after 7 damned them with their article.

    (Hehe! I find this funny: ‘7’. God’s number, number of covenant, perfection/completion is attacking Hillsong. Is this in fact a Godly judgment? (I don’t think so, but still a funny association.))

  18. I am now at the point where, aside from saying that the teaching re prosperity doctrine is not what Jesus taught, I think we have to just accept the existence of these prosperity driven megachurches. We cannot be shocked by salaries or large church incomes. They are to be expected, and will often be a sign of what the type of church is. The large income is what they aim for, every service, to be used for ‘Kingdom purposes’. The ‘Kingdom purposes’ are supposed to justify the emphasis on giving, and make any Christian who criticises it seem stingy and unsupportive of the Kingdom.

    Whose Kingdom is being built is perhaps the question. I am not saying that good work is not done by Hillsong. The emphasis they have though seems so different from the New Testament as to be virtually unrecognisable, and has more in common with modern self-help or business philosophy. Because these philosophies do actually help people, there will be people whom Hillsong has motivated to do what it takes to turn their businesses or lives around. For Christians though, it is whether they preach the same Gospel that Jesus and Paul preached that matters. Not just taking some useful verses and applying modern day philosophies to them. (There is a good reason Pat Mesiti was able to build a career as a secular speaker on wealth as much as a Christian speaker earlier on.) Unless they teach what Jesus taught, people may be very helpfully led up the garden path when it comes to faith.

    The Houstons are just living what they preach. What they preach bares little resemblance to what would pass for the gospel in most traditional churches, and to what the general community associates with churches. The Houstons would likely regard traditional churches, which aren’t growing, as being unsuccessful and probably stuck in the dark ages.

    I think Hillsong did make a great contribution to worship music (I know the lyrics can be controversial). In a way maybe when a church is very successful in a particular area, it can be sidetracked by that area or its benefits (celebrity, status and the trappings of success) to the point where they begin to distort the gospel to justify where they find themselves. Or they pursue those things and interpret the gospel to make it seem that by doing so they pursue Christ, redefining Him if needed.

    Anyway, I don’t really regard them as Christian any more, due to the emphasis on other things, though I still would no doubt regard many congregation members as Christian. Plus I do think people may still find Christ there, as God will use all avenues to reach us. The congregation’s sincerity is one of the resources the machine runs on. Or their hopes and fears, where they see prosperity doctrine as providing answers for their future.

  19. I have trouble giving credit to Hillsong and there music. It was Geoff Bullock that founded the musical ‘Hillsong Conference’ and it was the church that chucked him and kept what he originally started.

    It was never Brian Houston’s. Fantastic musicians of the original CLC movement bought fantastic music to Frank Houston’s congregation to worship too. Brian Houston NEVER acknowledges CLC’s past and seems to associate the birth of Christian Music to his ministry.

    When the church became more prosperity focused, so too did their doctrines in their music. I know people attribute Hillsong with great worship music and I don’t blame them for doing so. But it is important to know that it was never Brian Houston’s church that founded the music ministry.

    It was musicians supporting musicians. I still can’t really say Christian artists are supported by Hillsong. I think they too needed to get in line with Brian Houston’s vision and then became a tool for Hillsong’s success. They have a very specific target with the music they write and play. The music is more of a tool to help strategically market Hillsong more effectively.

    You will find that the creative colleges of these megachurches create ‘creative ministers’ that go into these religious institutions to make art to serve the vision and to increase numbers. This is called advertising. It’s not creativity but well designed consumer marketing. Once again, motives are not clear behind the productions.

    I do not think we should contribute fantastic worship music to Brian Houston’s church.

    I too have trouble considering churches like C3 and Hillsong to be ‘Christian any more’ as well. Too many are slaves to the vision then slaves to Christ. These ‘church’ brands are more exalted then the name of Jesus.

  20. There are lots of people all over the world who love “Hillsong music” who don’t know the name Brian Houston.

    Geoff Bullock and Darlene. But now Christian teenyboppers all over the world live for the day Hillsong United comes to town.
    Take a look at some overseas Hillsong concerts (worship services?) on youtube. Is “worship concert” the right word? I don’t know. All I know is that overseas its the band that people go to see.

    But talking about the old days Specks, I remember hearing Frank Houston speak once and his band had the lead singer from Air Supply and the bass player from the Little River Band.
    Hows that for an Aussie combination!

  21. “Geoff Bullock and Darlene” Sorry didn’t finish the sentence.

    Meant to say that it’s amazing the way it all evolved.

  22. Frank Houston also had the golden Trevor King and many other great musicians that came out from the Hippie movement.

    Since C3 mimics Hillsong where I’ve often heard C3 leaders say “Well if Hillsong can do it, we can do it too”, I’ve often heard C3 claim their denomination to be a ‘Contemporary spirit-filled Church’. I think that is the kind of denomination Hillsong would also like to see themselves as being.

    I would agree with them in being a ‘Contemporary spirit-filled church’ and not a real ‘Contemporary Spirit-filled-church’ when Frank Houston was running the rally’s. Brian preaches a different teachings and a different gospel to Frank.

    Although Frank Houston did have his sexual problems, he did preach with conviction under the power of the Spirit.

    Brian Houston on the other hand releases liars and heretics to parade the stage and allow ear-tickling preachers give people over to a ‘holy-ghost’ hype.

    See here:

    Unfortunately, people leave with their feel-good-consumer fix. They don’t realise they’ve been baptised into brandings, hyped-up into heresies and seduced by sensationalist teachings. They soon forget the feel good message and wait to get fixed on the latest Christian market merchandise outside, the errors all along, binding them down a wide road, compared to the road Jesus wants them to walk down.

    However, some people genuinely seeking God will have a genuine God encounter. Those who are tricked by Hillsong’s advertising and brainwashing show leave only believing that what Hillsong do they must do.

    The sinister ‘triumphant’ seeds of Hillsong have been planted in the minds of unsuspecting believers. People leave thinking that their church needs to go down the wide road of the prosperity gospel.

    This is not a blessing, but a cursing to the body of Christ! A false Christainity is being presented here with a false gospel that presents a Jesus that parades around like a ‘servant of light’. This spirit is asked not to be tested. And those that test the spirit behind such a movement are demonised as Steve West most likely is as we speak.

    Hillsong is not championing the cause of the local church. It’s demonising the cause of the local church. Minds are being closed to the blinding wealth of materialism. I am sick of the poison preached in Jesus’ name. No wonder Jesus went nuts at the loud, parading pharisees back then. What we see today is no different.

  23. S&P: “Fairly emotive here. Houston earns JUST about $150,000 with JUST another $150,000.. Not much at all when it’s JUST $300,000. The use of language is always intriguing in letters like this.”

    Yes well quite simply it is a rich man’s wage. It may be under what other people in other organisations of similar size etc get, but a rich man’s wage none the less.

    The other thing is Houston’s leaning on what the Tax Office did as a means of saying we’re OK means nothing unless the reader can see and understand what they actually did – which we can’t.

    I’m with RP. The mega churches are here to stay, but I won’t be darkening their doors because I don’t like being conned.

    As for Hillsong’s music. All sounds the same, formulaic, with the same production values..same for most Christian music these days….leaves me cold. If others like it….well each to their own, but its not for me.

  24. And if Houston and spouse gave away a fair bit of their income good on them.

    There are two issues that remain:

    1. how closely does what is taught at HS and any other church for that fact mirror and reflect the true gospel?

    That is the standard…

    2. Transparency of organisations. I expect religious and Christian organisations to have higher standards not simply meet the minimum legal obligations – that is a general comment and not aimed at anyone.

  25. It’s important to note that while Geoff Bullock was at Hillsong, he wrote a very powerful prophetic article about the dangerous direction Christian music could go:

    Beyond Self-Centred Worship
    Geoff Bullock

    Geoff Bullock served as music pastor at Hills Christian Life Centre, Sydney.
    True worship is much more than singing songs we like to sing

    Have you ever wondered how Paul and Silas could sing praises in a Philippian gaol after being stripped, flogged and clamped in the stocks? Or how Jesus could sing a hymn on the eve of his arrest, knowing everything that was about to happen to him? Or how Paul could describe worship with the spine-tingling phrase ‘living sacrifice’?

    It was because their worship was not based on what they liked. It was based on who they loved.

    There is an explosion of worship in the church today. The buzz word is ‘contemporary’ and the aim is to ‘enter into God’s presence’ and enjoy a sense of closeness with him. The music, the setting, the lyrics must all help create a fulfilling worship ‘experience’.

    But I am absolutely convinced that it’s not the worship that God wants us to enjoy. It’s him.

    Christians have often felt that worship has to suit their tastes. Many times churches have been built based on people’s preferences in worship style. We want to choose how we will worship.

    We’ve made worship self-centred instead of God-centred. We lobby for what we want: ‘I don’t like the songs’, ‘I don’t like the volume’. It’s as if we’re worshipping worship instead of worshipping God.

    Imagine conducting your relationship with your spouse on the basis of only relating to them in certain circumstances. In marriage you can’t love demanding an answer; you have to love selflessly. You don’t say, ‘As long as I get everything I want out of this relationship I’ll commit myself.’ But that’s the attitude we often have to worship. We say: ‘You musicians, singers and pastors do your tricks, then we’ll be happy.’

    Worship is not a musical experience. Musicians, singers and worship leaders can no more create a worship experience than an evangelist can create a salvation experience. Both worship and salvation are decisions – decisions that only individuals can make.

    When we allow someone else to take responsibility for our decisions we place human interests in front of God’s. If my worship depends on others creating an atmosphere, I am allowing them to make my decision to worship for me.

    Worship is not a result of how good the music is or whether my favourite songs are sung. It is not a consequence of whether I stand or sit, lift my hands or kneel. My worship must be an expression of my relationship with God – in song, in shouts and whispers, sitting, walking, or driving the car. Worship is my response to God.

    If worship is a decision, then the greatest worship happens when someone who doesn’t like a church’s music or liturgical style prays, ‘Not my will but yours be done, God – I’ll worship you in spite of it.’

    Your gifts aren’t the issue

    There’s another way in which we worship worship instead of worshipping God. Let me come at it by a round-about route.

    Consider two ways of understanding why the church exists. The first is that it exists to equip the saints for the work of ministry. So part of our teaching and worship must be aimed at equipping the saints.

    But there is a danger in this first perspective. It could lead us to think that people are in a church so that the church can release their individual gifts and ministries. This is back-to-front. People are actually in a church with their gifts to release the ministry of the church.

    It’s far more important to know where you are called than what you are called to do.

    Let me give a practical example. My hands write songs by accident; they just happen to be attached to the rest of my body and I’m a songwriter. In the same way, I’m a songwriter at Hills Christian Life Centre more because I’m ‘attached’ to a worshipping, song-writing church than because Hills Christian Life Centre has a songwriter who writes songs. The call is on the church, and my talent as a songwriter helps the church fulfil its call.

    This is a the second way to understand the church’s existence: It exists to fulfil God’s call on its life. To live out God’s vision. And the people in a church don’t so much need to own that vision as to be owned by it. Once that happens, the various facets of its life are given shape according to what God has called the church to be and do.

    This has a profound effect on worship. It takes the focus away from what we want and replaces it with what is needed to fulfil the vision. It really doesn’t matter whether we like the worship style or not; it’s whether the style is consistent with the call and vision. Unless we think this way, we’re in danger of creating our own entertainment – and hence of worshipping worship again.

    Worship and the will of God

    In other words, for our worship to be a response to God, an expression of our love and devotion, it must be a reflection of his will in and through our lives. For me to express my love for my wife Janine, I must do more than say ‘I love you”. I must mow the lawn, pick up my socks, wash the car, share her dreams and visions and goals – I must be a partner to her, working to be a team that expresses mutual love to each other selflessly.

    In this I discover that the best intimacy is the intimacy that forces you to get up in the morning after making love with your wife the night before and go and mow the lawns, fix the kitchen door, paint the shed – to do those things that are produced out of love.

    It’s the same in our relationship with God. I can’t sing, ‘I love you, Lord’, ‘I’ll worship you’, ‘Be exalted’ without being a partner in his will and vision.

    What is God’s vision, his expectations? Is it that we hold nice, comfortable worship services with three praise songs, two worship songs, one prophecy, one offering, one message, two altar calls and a closing hymn? Is his expectation our comfort, our enjoyment, our tradition?

    No. God’s vision is that the world will know his Son. The Lord’s expectation of us is crystal clear in Matthew 28:19-20: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

    God has called us into his contemporary world to make disciples. Our worship central in our decision to meet this commission.

    Of course we must sing and dance and praise the Lord. But if while we sing and dance and praise we either ignore God’s commission or create a culture that alienates those whom God has called us to reach, are we really worshipping God at all? Or are we, yet again, worshiping the worship instead of him?

    Communication is more than words

    The church I’m part of is a middle-income, yuppie, contemporary church of baby boomers and their children. That’s who we are, and that’s whom God has called us to reach. So that’s what we look and sound like. Other churches have different calls – perhaps to the elderly. In that case people will have to get used to singing hymns.

    If every church became ‘modern contemporary’ in music and we all played Crowded House and Dire Straits, what would happen to churches in Vaucluse in Sydney or St Kilda in Melbourne, which need a totally different touch?

    To put it in marketing terms, once we understand our mission (to make disciples), we need to find our market place (the people that God want us to reach). That will then give us our methodology.

    We have to find and use the language of our market place. At Youth Alive rallies, for example, where 10-12,000 people cram into the Sydney Entertainment Centre, we know that ‘Amazing Grace’ or ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ aren’t going to work with some 15-year-old home boy with his cap on backwards who’s into the basketball culture. So we sing songs like ‘Jump into the Jam with the Great I Am’ – songs that reflect our passion for Jesus and our love and vitality for life in their language. In this way we reclaim their music to glorify God and open a window to Christian experience in language they can understand.

    When I say ‘language’ I don’t just mean terminology, words. People can go to a Madonna concert in Japan and not understand a word she says but still feel part of what she’s doing because they understand the whole language – the visual communication, the sound, the music.

    We need to speak people’s language – not just in our music but in our newsletters and graphics and decor and preaching and dress.

    When the church forgets this and loses sight of its mission and market place, it locks itself into its own culture. Anyone who comes in from outside has to undergo a cultural revolution, before they can get to our answer. In the end the only people we reach are ourselves. That’s scandalous. We’re called to be light in darkness, not light in light.

    I’m not saying that all worship must be directed toward attracting non-believers – far from it. Worship is an individual’s adoration of God. Our worship attention must be on intimacy with God led by the Spirit. So we must not make it so relevant that we lose the intimacy.

    You won’t reach your marketplace until you equip the saints, and you won’t equip the saints by just speaking the language of the marketplace. You have to teach them to speak the language of the marketplace. There’s a transition. So there must be a balance between equipping the saints and reaching the marketplace.

    Sometimes, however, the saints bet lost in enjoying the ‘showers of blessings’ that come through their relationship with God. When we go to church to stand under the shower of blessings, our worship involves that experience.

    But life is more than standing under the shower. Life is also getting dressed and going to work. Our worship should translate into the outcome of our lives.

    For the believer, an effect of worship is like a remedial massage at half-time to get us back on the field. It’s healing for injuries so we can keep playing. It’s the coach at half-time saying toa tired team, ‘You can win’ – and sending them out to turn the game around.

    Worship, then, is refocussing. It’s re-equipping. It’s realigning yourself with the passion of God and realising that you have to say, ‘Not my will but yours be done’.

    Worship doesn’t end with ‘I exalt you’. It goes on to say, ‘I must go out and take the experience to others.’ I believe that God is changing the face of Christian worship today because he is trying to align us again with him and his vision.

    We can’t worship God truly and remain unchanged. When we worship, we push into God’s heart. Older married couples can sometimes sit in a room together for an hour and a half and not speak to each other and yet communicate, because they’ve grown together and they understand each other’s heart. It’s like that with God. As we worship him we come to understand his heart, and we start to share his passion. Then his vision comes our vision.


    (c) On Being, February 1995, 2 Denham Street, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122.
    Used with permission.
    Renewal Journal #6 (1995:2), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 8-11.
    Reproduction is allowed as long as the copyright remains intact with the text.

  26. This is off topic, but one day I’d love to hear people’s ideas on another thread.

    Can I drop a bombshell, and say that I am all for singing, all for music, and praising etc….but that worship is not singing.

    Do a search for the word “worship”. I wish I could find a verse saying “They worshiped, singing…..” or” they worshiped and sang”.

    I can’t find any places where God’s people worshiped with singing. Which seems strange doesn’t it? They all seemed to bow down and worship, fell down and worshiped. That’s both Old Testament and New. If I’m wrong, please let me know.

    Not a biggie though. Just sayin..

  27. Ha! Well I am very grateful that worship doesn’t require music or singing, as enjoyable as that is. I believe worship is living our whole life for God. Worship can be kindness to others, service to one another, or doing our job to the best of our ability, as towards God. And so on. It’s great to have an expression for worship such as singing etc, but not everyone can participate in that for a variety of reasons, so to tie it down to that expression exclusively would deny access to worship for many. Worship is an attitude of our heart, and can be expressed in many ways.

  28. I think it is. I asked that comment before, but deleted it not sure. But after that reply (and also noting ‘Fl’amethrower earlier), I think it is.

  29. I’ve also found that I am disatisfied with the singing worship. I asked God why and I believed he wanted my life to be a song dedicated to him, rather then just my lips.

    Even Darlene wrote in her book ‘Extravagant Worship’ the importance about living your worship rather it be just singing worship. But she gave the classic pente answer and then went on to talk about music. It should really be stressed. Why?

    Does anyone remember over the last few years how worship was being worshiped through mega-church advertising? An example would be like ‘Come to church and experience an encounter with God in worship’. Does Darlene or worship leaders have any say in how they are presented in their own advertising?

    They say ‘A’ needs to be done and everyone agrees. But ‘Z’ is done instead.

    It’s not just music. The advertising also talks about you influencing the world and getting you out there in the market place (A). But then to serve the vision, you have got to be planted in the house of God, serving and being committed to the vision (Z).

    Same thing with money. We ‘need more money’ so we can bless others and influence others lives for the Kingdom (A). But we must give our tithes, offerings and Firstfruits to God each Sunday and give sacrificially for whatever reason that involves God (Z).

    It’s when people start trying live both extremes that they start seeing something is wrong.

  30. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying:

    “I will sing to YAHWEH, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

    YAHWEH is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

    YAHWEH is a man of war; YAHWEH is His name.”

    Exodus 15:1-3

  31. Some of Brian’s tweets:

    Leaders goal: SPEAK the truth always – SPEAK up when necessary – SPEAK little when angry – SPEAK firmly but graciously!
    8:43 AM Jul 19th via Twitter for iPhone

    Leaders goal: Take responsibility for creating the kind of ATMOSPHERE, in which MOMENTUM will thrive. Energy + Unity!
    8:15 AM Jul 20th via UberTwitter

    Leaders goal: Actively seek to resolve the ongoing issues that are affecting the spirit and momentum of your team!
    11:03 PM Jul 22nd via UberTwitter

    Leaders goal: To be surrounded by people who possess the courage & humility to withstand the rigours of leadership!
    2:32 PM Jul 23rd via UberTwitter

    Switch off THINKING, based on anguish & anxiety; but THINK & think some MORE, when birthed in promise & possibility!
    Saturday, 24 July 2010 9:39:38 AM via UberTwitter

    Leaders goal: LAUGHING often; always SMILING; WARM-hearted; genuinely FRIENDLY; endearingly MISCHIEVIOUS, FREE-spirited!
    Tuesday, 27 July 2010 7:42:30 AM via UberTwitter

    When victory seems so CLOSE, yet still so FAR away; stay FAR away from cynics, & keep God’s counsel, CLOSE !
    Tuesday, 3 August 2010 8:17:48 AM via UberTwitter

    “Honour the Lord with the first fruits..” To be in God’s house on a Sunday morning (the 1st day of the week) is God honouring! B.
    7:03 AM Aug 8th via UberTwitter

    Better an artist than an art critic-chef than a food critic-muso than a music critic-CHURCH BUILDER than a church critic!

  32. I liked MN’s comment earlier:

    There are two issues that remain:

    1. how closely does what is taught at HS and any other church for that fact mirror and reflect the true gospel?

    That is the standard…

    2. Transparency of organisations. I expect religious and Christian organisations to have higher standards not simply meet the minimum legal obligations – that is a general comment and not aimed at anyone.

    While its likely that no church gets the message perfectly, I think there is still an overall sense of how much a church’s message reflects the gospel, or whether it reflects a different emphasis to the point where the gospel is quite distorted or lost.

    Despite their claims, I don’t think Hillsong is very transparent if you have to go to a lot of trouble to see their annual reports. They could make them easily available on websites. Brian Houston compares his salary to CEO salaries, and has a board. It wouldn’t hurt then to disclose things to members/the public (tax payers) in the same way the corporate world does. I can get any public companies report on their website, and these include top 5 salaries, and detailed breakdowns of expenses. It keeps critics at bay if everything is reasonable, lets people know about the good work companies are doing, reveals potential funding shortfalls or surpluses, and keeps everyone honest. Nothing to be lost from doing this. Like MN says, it wouldn’t hurt for Christian organisations, especially those of significant size that could be targeted by tall poppy syndrome, to do more than this.

  33. I fought my way through a fair bit of it, but gave up half way through the second.

    Have to say I’m not a fan of Roseborough’s approach, but I understand it.

    First time I’ve heard Houston.

    Not much of what I heard seems to be about what the Bible actually has to say, far less teaches.

    All good positive stuff, and it may relate to the Gospel as a distant cousin at some point, but yeah….

    My first reaction on hearing Houston was that he had shares in superglue. I’ll let you work out what I think it was for.

    Biblical exegesis it was not, from a man who at first blush seems to trade very much on his personal presence. It would have the opposite result of what was intended in my case if exposed to it for any length of time. I’m sure he believes what he is saying.

    Not for me folks….

  34. In fairness to Houston he wouldn’t be the only preacher I’ve heard who relies more on personal story than bible, passing the personal story of as bible.

    And I love genuine testimonies. Hear too few of them for mine.

  35. As someone commented on Chris Rosebrough’s FB, Brian sounds like Paul Hogan trying to imitate Bela Lugosi.

    Seriously though, Chris Rosebrough’s sermon critiques (and I’ve listened to all of of them (5 a week since April 2007) – good, bad and ugly, have been an intregral part of being able to help me “think biblically, think critically and to compare what people are saying in the name of God about the Word of God”.

    Have to have my weekly dose of Spurgeon and my daily dose of Fighting For The Faith. 🙂

  36. Yeah, but he’s a Kiwi!

    Roseborough said he was an Australian. Bit like a Canadian being called a yank.

    These are serious allegations!!

  37. The one thing I noted about Roseborough was the he didn’t let go of the Gospel in terms of sinners needing to put themselves in the way of Jesus redemptive work for them. repentance etc.

    All good stuff.

    But what he didn’t do which is probably totally unfair of me to comment on, was talk about being saved – for what?

    Sinners coming to Jesus is actually not the point, but a means to a greater end.

    And that is not to diminish in any way what Jesus has done for us – simply because there is only one way to get to that greater end and that is through acknowledgement of what and who we are – good Houston language, but not meaning I think – repentance, and then into it with God at the centre of everything.

    What Houston seems to major on is that greater end – with I have to say – very little acknowledgement of God’s place in the whole scheme.

    Major imbalance and misrepresentation at that point.

  38. When listening to Chris consistently, he does a marvellous gospel presentation. Every critique is different with a lot of bible presented in context, throughbout the critiques, highlighting what individual congregations aren’t getting/hearing.

  39. Hilarious that Chris Rosebrough totally puts down Brian Houston for teaching a prosperity gospel and wanting money, yet Chris opens and closes his program with a very long rant asking for money and directing listeners as to where they can donate.

    Having said that, considering I had heard the sermons before, I laughed all the way through at Chris’s comments and will contemplate them. I do agree with him that Houston got the Habakkuk quote wrong. Or as Houston accidentally said the Saturday night before the first sermon when he was feeling rather tired – ‘have a cock’.

  40. Teddy: “@ Specks – Chris Rosebrough is critiquing Hillsong”

    I know! I saw this plastered around Facebook and Twitter. An American friend emailed it to me too because I like listening to ‘Fighting For The Faith’. Did this have something to do with you Teddy? 😀

  41. @ Specks – 🙂

    @ Newtaste – hardly call it a rant. Listener support funding is only $6.95 US a month. But would you like to talk about Brian Houstons Kingdom followers. Could they join the club with privileges for $6.95 a month?

    And as my husband and I were listening to the critique, we realised how often we had heard the same misuse of Habbakuk by PP. Never, ever presented in it’s true context and meaning. Even I have misused it because I was too lazy to check and just trusted the pastor (PP) would be telling the truth.

  42. Teddy, I just listened to a bit of that podcast.

    He says a lot of valid things. But … he states clearly that Hillsong is not a Christian Church, Houston is not a Christian preacher, and Bill Hybels is an enemy of Christianity.

    Heavy stuff. Are there many people he likes?

  43. Lots – his reviews cover the good, the bad, the ugly.

    I’m so glad to hear someone willing to speak strongly for the Word to be rightly divided. The Habbakuk “eisesgesis” by Brian is inexcusable.

  44. @ Churchman – Chris Rosebrough, a Lutheran theologian, has the opportunity to dialogue with many people. He would rather sit down and talk with “emergents” (and does – he did a great interview with the Whisky Preacher), his current master’s thesis is on the emergent movement as he is very concerned about it.

    He and Bob Dewaay have confronted Rick Warren in a private meeting about Saddleback’s lack of gospel preaching/seeker-sensitive approach. He finds the “minders” around guys like Warren, Hybels, etc make them normally unapproachable whereas the emergents just love the opportunity to dialogue. In those interviews, Chris just lets them speak (and allows their own words to condemn /commend them).

    I recommend anyone spend some time listening to the various Fighting For The Faith programs as they are updated. Entertaining and enlightening.

    And he does a very good job as curator of the Museum of Idolatry …

  45. Teddy, I had the same thoughts as Toteddy..!?

    I’m not saying he’s wrong and what he is doing may be good, but he comes across as enjoying clobbering people.

    But, for me, the hardest thing is that he has so many topics on one podcast. Maybe I’m part of the soundbite generation, but if it’s hard going getting through such a long audio to get to his points. So, I never got around to hearing about Habakkuk.

    And he goes off on tangents. One thing if its printed word and you can skim through.

    Just saying that his uncategorical statement that Hillsong is not a Christian church is not something I can agree with. And if he honestly thought that and that Bill Hybels is an “enemy of Christianity”, then I’d expect to hear more crying than laughing and derision.

  46. I’m with Churchman.

    The criticism is fair enough.

    The conclusions – if representative (well they are pretty absolutist and categorical on this podcast aren’t they) – while I understanding what drives them, are questionable.

    Houston is fair game – he up front and leading the whole shebang – he leads with his chin, but the totality of the congregation?


  47. I do not need to be threatened by Facelift. I am sick of his divisive manipulation on this blog. Lance was right when he said Facelift plays mind games. Faithlift works subtly and craftily to manipulate. I fell right into his game. I confess. I fell for Facelift’s manipulation. So I think it is fair that I remove him from SP02 so that my mental health can return and people can actually enjoy the SP02 environment.

    This is his been his third threat. 3 Strikes! He’s out. I’m sorry Facelift. The way he also speaks to new people to this blog is appalling. He actually repels people and has continued to add hurt to those who had bad church experiences (Ronfire).

    I will make sure with all my being now, he will NOT get back on to Signposts02. His tricks and fake names will be deleted. If you want to know why I am fed up with, he has continually lied his way back on Signposts02 in the past using tricky names.

    I am actually enjoying the the conversations more now since Facelift has been removed. With him gone, there will be less threads hi-jacked, more people enjoying conversations, more people piping up to speak and a return to decent bloggers to Signposts02. I’d like Zeppelin, Heretic1 or mj back any day!

    I didn’t explain why I kicked Facelift off SP02 to people for good reason, he would love the attention and reveal his ‘martyred saint’ syndrome. Please do not talk to Facelift on SP02 as he will only derail the threads and make matters worse. I will keep deleting his comments,. Talking to him will make this thread hard to read.

    If you do like Facelift’s company, I am sure he is happy to be in dialogue with you through email. Please talk with him that way. But please be careful with him. He’ll probably email some of the conversation I had with him to say he didn’t threaten me. He’ll probably try to get some people to email me personally or say something publically to bring Facelift back. So I’ll be expecting this. My answer will be no. I don’t need him to constantly dictate the way this site is run. However, I see myself as facilitator of Signposts02 and like it when people have things for me to publish to bring more diversity to the SP02 community.

    What I like most about the SP02 community is that we are knitted together in love but allow raw honest opinion to run rampant. RavingPente has often given me advice when I sometimes go too far. Lance only offers legal advice time to time.

    SP02 is different to GroupSects. It’s focus is still on where the church is going (to a lesser degree). That is because when the original Signposts was running, some people didn’t like the fact that we were outsiders having opinions what was happening inside the church. So I finally was able to come on to Signposts as an insider. People didn’t like that either. As a result, more scrutiny is placed on these church movements who are ‘pioneering’ the church forward on SP02.

    I am glad C3 is exhausting me now. Many of us are seeing how much they have derailed from orthodox Christianity. Now that we are seeing these places are not ‘moving forward’, it only seems natural that we start looking at various ways church is done. I’m seeing great alternatives at the moment.

    I’ve been going to Michael Frost’s church occasionally. I am trying to locate other emerging churches. An interesting one is the The Upper Room in North Sydney, (that seems to be more liberal in their theology). I am also looking at more orthodox churches and examining the Charismatic Catholic church as well. So this is a bit of a preview of where I see Signposts02 heading soon.

    Now that is out, may we stay true to this thread.

  48. It doesn’t appear to me that Hillsong preaches the gospel, so I don’t think of it as a Christian church in the institutional sense now. One reason is that in my view they add criteria to the gospel of salvation; the other is that they preach prosperity doctrine which is plainly wrong. Just because they use scripture or Jesus name doesn’t make them Christian. Having said that – the true church is present among the congregation at Hillsong; there are genuine Christian people there who are connected relationally, and they are part of the body of Christ on earth. So my view is that as an institution, Hillsong no longer represents the gospel, but that the true church is still present in the midst of the institutional environment. It can’t be measured, that’s all.

  49. “…the other is that they preach prosperity doctrine which is plainly wrong. ” – me

    To clarify – its the emphasis on this which makes me see them as not preaching the gospel. They are preaching something else. If another church were to believe and preach the prosperity message but not major on it, with a more balanced focus overall, even if they are wrong in some bits, I wouldn’t just write them off. It is just that to me, it looks as though as an institution, Hillsong has been given over to this these days.

    I knew people from Frank Houston’s church years ago. The emphasis was never this emphasis that we see today. There was emphasis on giving and missions, and this was fine. They all had a wonderful heart for God. It wasn’t to do with personal success or appearance, and didn’t seem corrupt. So I do think that what we are seeing today has evolved over time, and was not always this way.

  50. Re FL – I support S&P in his decision because I think it is better for the blog environment, and we always end up with a greater number of people willing to participate here when they are not ‘clobbered’ the moment they arrive and share some bruising experience. We are not to ‘break the bruised reed’. (Or even those who just disagree with us.) It is not that I think FL is a bad person or that he is not a Christian brother. I didn’t see the latest comments which S&P must have been referring to.

    While FL is not here, we should refrain from talking about him too much when he can’t reply (there will be some talk on this thread, but then it should probably stop).

    Also, if I see a post on C3 or whatever that just seems too extreme for some reason, I will say so, because FL can’t. But my opinions are different from his, so I would draw the line in a different place no doubt.

  51. As stated before Fl is a brother.

    But this blog has always been more for those that have been damaged by C3 et al than those who are happy in that environment.

    For those people to be called into question and dismissed – may be not directly – but most certainly indirectly I don’t think has achieved anything except more damage.

    I don’t agree with going feral either.

    Net result: vale FL.

  52. For clarity sake the going feral comment was in relation to S&P which I think you have a tendency to do on occasion.

  53. Okay mn. I am open for rebuke by people on Signposts02 if you think I cross the line. I think anyone can tell that I am passionate on SP02. A good rebuke can be good medicine for me, even if don’t receive it well. Thanks for your honesty mn. 😉

  54. So Roseborough also labels TD Jakes and Brian Houstona heretics? Wow! And now Willow Creek Church is an enemy of the Christian faith.

    He sounds more extreme then me. But then, he is someone who is very biblically sound.

  55. Being biblically sound does not mean that people don’t withold in judgement when they should.

    Sometimes – and this is a general comment – I don’t know enough of Roseborough to comment otherwise, but I do lengthy experience elsewhere – that biblical knowledge gives rise to an arrogance and haughtiness that is not pretty.

  56. I can guarantee he is neither arrogant or haughty. Three years of listening to him? Trust me, he’s fair and balanced. 🙂

    Interesting how not an awful lot is being said about just how dreadful and misleading Brian’s theology is.

    Has anyone ever been down Brian’s “write the vision” road with Habbakuk? As I said before, I have – was even marked highly (I’m not proud to say, it deserved a fail if marked correctly) for an assignment at Bible College by Mark Saundercock who is supposed to be a OT scholar!

  57. @ Specks – You’re surprised that T D Jakes and Brian Houston are labelled as heretics? You’ve brought these people forward as false before now, so why the surprise?

    What would qualify Brian as sound, when he constantly gives his stamp of approval to more than one false teacher, misleading his own congregation and any other guests attending his conferences.

    Those speakers would include Ray McCauley, Kong Hee, Jentzen Franklin, Joyce Meyer, T D Jakes, Joseph Prince, Ed Young Jnr, John Maxwell, Joel and Victoria Osteen, etc etc – all on good watch-dog lists for their false doctrines or prosperity gospel teaching.

  58. “Interesting how not an awful lot is being said about just how dreadful and misleading Brian’s theology is.” = Teddy

    I thought we’d already established that most of us strongly disagree with the prosperity doctrine he preaches! That alone speaks well enough.

    With Roseborough, people seem to commenting that he has extreme views, rather than that what he says is completely misleading. Not that I’d know, since I haven’t listened to him. And I have my own extreme views.

    I am so reluctant to write churches off, because typically there are some really wonderful people who attend, who are strong in their faith in God. However, the way prosperity doctrine is now promoted these days, and the way it is emphasised so much, and used to motivate people to give so frequently – even multiple times in one service – I can’t then conclude that churches who do this are still preaching the gospel. They might have been once. There are degrees of everything. It comes down to whether the leadership worships their goals, or worships God and models their teaching on scripture, including the emphasis of Jesus ministry, and later the ministries of the disciples.

    I also agree with MN:

    “Sometimes – and this is a general comment – I don’t know enough of Roseborough to comment otherwise, but I do lengthy experience elsewhere – that biblical knowledge gives rise to an arrogance and haughtiness that is not pretty.”

    Arrogance and haughtiness are a trap for the successful, whether they be successful in attracting large numbers to their church/movement, their business, their presentation or successful in studying theology to the nth degree. I’ve even heard Christian apologists who have some very interesting things to say, come across as terribly arrogant or haughty. It repels people.

    We have pray that those things are crucified in our old nature if we want to be most effective in what we do, even if its writing blog articles protesting things or doing a radio show. We can’t raise ourselves up as intrinsically better than people we criticise. We are all broken in a variety of ways. God will work even with the people we are so frustrated by, including Brian Houston, if they have a shred of true desire for Him.

    Confidence is not the same as arrogance; people can be confident in what God has called them to yet remain humble before Him and each other. I think this is a powerful combination.

  59. Another good reason to actually listen to what Chris has to say on his programs – they are very well done, certainly not boring and very thought-provoking. He has a very clear bibical view of Scripture and nails these guys on their mishandling of the Word. So you may not like his manner but at least he’s honest with the Word.

  60. Re FL, a serious suggestion..

    He could start his own blog, possibly discussing the same issues we post about – but from the C3/Prosperity-sympathetic point of view.

    S&P could link to it from this blog, and make it clear that it is an alternate viewpoint that should be taken into account.

    He would make a good blogger, would probably be more challenging as a poster of articles.

  61. Wazza: I think that is a good idea. Apples with apples etc.

    Teddy: “Interesting how not an awful lot is being said about just how dreadful and misleading Brian’s theology is.”

    RP beat me to it. Brian’s teaching is crap – that is a given.

  62. With view’s on BH’s teaching a given in this neck of the woods, the point is in relation to Chris not to indulge in cheap belittling judgementalism.

    My oldest son cruised passed when I was listening an immediately picked up on the same thing, before disappearing because he didn’t want to indulge it any further.

    Chris at first blush has something really important to say. I’ll take it on your say so that he doesn’t neuter that by being too judgemental.

  63. It doesn’t. But if an organisation emphasises it and builds a kingdom on it, it hardly qualifies as being built on Christ.

    A lot depends upon the emphasis.

  64. mn: “RP beat me to it. Brian’s teaching is crap – that is a given.”

    Guys I really don’t think we should be calling Brian’s teaching crap. That’s not right. I get crap from my worm farm and put it on the plants and it is really useful stuff.

  65. I still regard C3 as being Christian in teaching in that they don’t add to the salvation criteria the way Hillsong appears to judging by their website. The more they give themselves over to prosperity teaching though, the less of Christ they will be preaching.

    At what point does the frog realise the water is boiling?

  66. I read back my last post, and realised how bad it sounds.

    Oh well, we all die of something.


    I’m reminded of a teaching of Paul that gets very little airplay these days in relation to taking communion in 1 Cor 11:

    ‘A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.’

    The whole idea of examining oneself, and not disrepecting what Christ has done in us by failing to acknowledge what we ourselves repeatedly bring to the table.

  67. S&P, I’m not sure if banning FL is necessarily a good thing. Forums such as this are a great way for people like me to weigh up both sides of an argument and then draw our own conclusions. Once you start banning people with opposing views then the forum becomes one big pity-party and can create an unhealthy environment that can ferment into something quite dangerous. S&P, if FL’s posts offend you may I suggest that you put them down to zealousness on his part to defend something he believes in. Let’s face it, your zealousness to defend your own views can be just as confronting as FL’s. Basically I guess I am saying “man up.” As a long time lurker on this site I have seen some extremely strong and offensive comments made by yourself, and the term “the pot calling the kettle black” comes to mind in this case. But let me encourage you to reconsider banning FL. Even if it is just for the entertainment value!

  68. Wazza: “He could start his own blog, possibly discussing the same issues we post about – but from the C3/Prosperity-sympathetic point of view.”

    He may as well. He is NOT getting back on here.
    And by all means he can do it from his narrow C3 point-of-view. You’ve really got to condition yourself if you want to do that. With about 15 yrs in C3, you’d think I wouldn’t have a decent opinion on the cult.

    And TVdude. It would be cool if you were aware how long Facelift has been on Signposts causing people to leave; jumping on single posters like yourself and putting them off; threatening people (nonviolently but exposing people online); turning entire topics onto himself and playing the innocent victim; turning topics onto himself playing the man who has all the answers and parades himself like he is a martyr… You get the idea. When we’ve banned him in the past (and other bloggers can’t stand him too), he pops up under different names.

    He is what I’ve called him on line, a fly in sheeps clothing. He just wont go away, even if you ask him nicely. Don’t believe me? Just email the guy who runs .

    I had no problem with his views until he started his mind games and slamming people who’d come on to Signposts02.

    As with possible extreme comments I’ve made of C3 being a gnostic cult – I will not retract that statement. The more I research, the more I’m horrified to find these claims are true. I never would have believed it until I started seeing the symptoms of the victims from C3.

    And these victims are financially raped, confused, lonely, no longer trusting, emotionally manipulated, etc. Some person even described what he felt like as being ‘spiritually raped and defiled’. A few abused found it difficult leaving their houses. Just check out the Nagaland thread. A few of their demonic doctrines are up there. I think my namely accusations were the worst unless you can point me towards certain comments I made that were worse than that.

  69. Just read that article on Hybels, Teddy. Totally agree with what he said.

    Hybels needs to address some things as do many. But it would take more than that for me to call someone an enemy of Christianity or not a Christian preacher.

  70. “…As with possible extreme comments I’ve made of C3 being a gnostic cult – I will not retract that statement…” – S&P

    And people like me will keep on saying that C3 is not a cult, because despite some cult-like teachings, it does not go to the controlling extremes of a true cult.

    Sorry Specks – we’ll just disagree on this.

    I think we confront issues more effectively when we are as fair as we know how to be and when we don’t exaggerate. Though I accept that for Specks this view is not exaggeration. It would be for me.

  71. Lots of people work hard for a living, face lots of problems at work or at home, then get to church and are told to give more, do more, spend more time in church, and then not expect to get fed.
    And that the Pastor’s (CEO’s) job is to sit around dreaming up new visions – read more things for the people to do, and more things for them to give to.

    The church needs more servants and less Kings.

  72. very good summary churchman.

    This is across the breadth of churches not just C3.

    C3 is in the pack with this.

  73. Off topic but just saw this..

    RT @jf4316: Prosperetic: n. One who teaches the false gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity.

    I like it!

  74. That’s true MN. However, I am more defensive how the media portray Hillsong in this article. C3 has planted/rebranded more churches then Hillsong and I would have to say are 2x more extreme in their theology and practice.

    Houston seems to be at least accountable to the elders and the board. Pringle is not accountable to anyone in his congregation or leadership. When he calls the shots, it’s best not disagree. The only person I’ve been continually told he’s accountable too, (to leaders in the C3 movement), is Yonngi Cho.

    I would have no problem have the media investigate C3.

  75. S&P, you’re right, I haven’t seen all of the posts that FL has posted, but I still don’t think that the reasons you stated for banning FL are sufficient enough to completely ban a person. An internet forum gives readers the ability to simply not read a post if they don’t agree with the sentiments, or if the poster is becoming abusive. But there may still be people reading who should have the option to weigh up both sides of the argument. I frequent many different web forums, and many people on these forums have extreme views and can become abusive, but I simply stop reading their posts if I become offended.

    As for your stating that C3 is a Gnostic cult, I must take exception to that. I have the privilege of calling Phil Pringle and his family friends, and I have been a part of the C3 “inner circle” for a number of years. I agree that the Pentecostal movement has often resorted to slogans and platitudes instead of solid biblical teaching, and the preoccupation with the financial has become very unbalanced over the last ten years or so, but having spent so much time with Phil one-on-one I can assure you, hand on heart, that Phil is in no way a Gnostic.

  76. @TVdude – would be interested to hear your take on the “Fighting For The Faith” critique on Hillsong. Brian played fast and loose with some very bad eisegeis of Habbakuk, the same sort of interpretation preached time and time again at C3 by PP.

    The question I ask is how on earth does a man achieve “stature” within the Christian community when he can’t even interpret scripture correctly? There is a particular responsibility that a shepherd has for the tending ie. feeding of the sheep. Phil and Brian are not honouring God when they don’t honour/rightly divide His Word.

  77. Just read Teddy’s first link:

    Chris Roseborough defines the Purpose Driven Network and the Willow Creek Association as businesses that market knowledge based products to pastors. Seems like a fair enough synopsis.

    He then blamed those products for helping “the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church” to develop.

    This puts every movement identified as the Emerging Church under one big, bad umbrella. To me, this is vast oversimplification. It’s like saying I hate French food, when there are 1000 different types of French foods.

    I remember Greg the Explorer put a post up about the emerging church showing the vast spectrum of groups/teachers that are sometimes referred to under this banner.

    Maybe some of those have been helped by the purpose driven stuff, but I associate the purpose driven stuff with those churches that want an organised plan for growth that engages every member of their congregation in the larger plan. Those churches are megachurches, churches that want to be megachurches, and are primarily seeker sensitive churches. There are ’emerging church’ groups which are nothing like seeker sensitive churches. There is no one distinct ’emerging church’ movement.

    Anyway, just shows that whoever it is making the comment, we need to think about what they are saying. Blanket generalisations are typically something to be wary of; they can lead to hate or predjudice.

  78. The research Chris does is specifically targeted at the Emergent movement – he is doing a Masters thesis on it. He has a very good reputation with some of the emergent guys (Doug Pagitt ,the Whisky Preacher and others), he attends their conferences and interviews them fairly. They know he calls their views heretical but appreciate his approach anyway. Recommend his interview and follow up with the Whisky Preacher.

    We all have opinions, thoughts, views etc but Chris hits the ground running with these guys and is in a good position to judge, especially by the Word.

  79. It would be interesting to know what he defines as emergent. I agreed with a lot of the two links you posted that I read. But I do take on board what Greg showed us in his earlier post. It seemed fairly convincing to me that ’emergent’ covers a lot of ground, even including some who wouldn’t describe themselves that way.

  80. TVDude, excuse me for asking but are you a personality that shares a body with FL?

    FL in the past used a number of different aliases and justified it by saying that each one was only an internet ‘persona’ and could operate individually.

    If you are not FL then I apologise and welcome to the blog.

  81. No worries wazza no need to apologise. I can definitely assure you that I am not FL. I am a former C3OF staff member now living out of Sydney. I am no longer associated with the C3 movement but maintain great relationships with my C3 friends and former colleagues, including Phil and Chris, Mark and Bernie and Simon Mac. I also know Darlene and Mark at Hillsong, but on a more casual basis. There will be some regulars on this blog that probably know who I am (hi guys) but let me assure you all that I am not here to try and shut down debate or to automatically defend C3 or Hillsong. I think it is important that these kinds of issues are debated, as long as they are done respectfully and don’t resort to ad hominem attacks.

    Teddy thanks I’ll check that link out.

  82. TVDude is not Facelift. I know him from way back! 😀
    You might have forgotten me though. Sorry for being extreme TVdude. Please understand my passion. Did you leave C3 in the end because of bad experience or because you wanted more in your spiritual walk? Did you just simply start seeing through it all?

    RP: “Maybe some of those have been helped by the purpose driven stuff, but I associate the purpose driven stuff with those churches that want an organised plan for growth that engages every member of their congregation in the larger plan. Those churches are megachurches, churches that want to be megachurches, and are primarily seeker sensitive churches. There are ‘emerging church’ groups which are nothing like seeker sensitive churches. There is no one distinct ‘emerging church’ movement.”

    The more seeker-sensitive megachurches get extreme with their lack of biblical knowledge or knowledge of God’s Spirit, the more people will be gravitating toward an Anglican/Uniting/Baptist type of church.

    Many youth are shaking off these pente-teachings are looking at reformed theology. This is exciting. The age group from 15-40 or starting to see through it. And from 65 onwards, I’ve noticed a natural gravitation of the younger folk to the older ones for guidance, wisdom, practical solutions, advice, scriptural knowledge.

    What’s exciting is that people want REAL community. More of a gravitational pull towards a herbal and urban kind of community environment. Youth (15-30) are wanting real truth and are wanting to grow up and not be fed sensationalism. They are looking for adventure IN the community and being apart of community, not part of an isolated plastic community.

    If mega-churches wants to keep up with what the church needs, they need to downgrade. But all their theology, gospels and lights are telling people to to go the other way. They will it impossible to change their spots. I’m expecting a culture clash.

  83. Also, there are two types of ’emerging church’ I’m seeing (excluding the failed attempts of megachurch seeker-sensitive):

    1. A try-hard wannabe emerging church culture, who want to look as though they are pioneering a historical ‘something’ movement. I would lump Michael Frost in that bucket. I am sick of pioneering ego’s. This emergent movement is either seeker sensitive therefore liberal in their theology, or solidly reformed in their theology and philosophy, (either extreme case, ego’s pioneering along here, eg Mark Driscoll).

    2. The other is more of an enigmatic emerging church environment. They’re not looking at pioneering. They hang out; they talk about life; they do sport; have a bible study, have coffee, go to the beach or mall, have a worship time whenever, have everyone around for dinner or go for a picnic.

    In other words they do life naturally as the church. They’re not fussed if they have a name or not, but are very gospel and biblically focused. They may go as groups to check big, small, orthodox or various churches and discuss what they think of the way church is done. This church goes to social events both church and community. Their understanding is that church is with the community.

    So I’ve been to a few so-called ’emerging’ church ‘things’ and I really gravitated towards the enigmatic church. The Ego-Purpose Emerging movement seems to be up-to-date with gadgets, technology, contemporary fashion and hair styles. But they do stand out as their own brand, like Hillsong, in the community.

    The enigmatic emerging was wonderfully raw, real and refreshing. God and community. It was so simple and it is a powerful witness to non-believers that Christian’s can be genuinely happy but honest.

    The Hillsong hype is losing it’s power. Give it another five years and people will start being dissatisfied with what it offers (unless it somehow changes its spots). Meaning is now being sought after, not plastic. The times they are a changing!

  84. I see four types of people in the next generation contemporary hyped up mega churches.

    The first group join and are excited and later drop out and go nowhere.

    The second group get slowly disillusioned but keep going for years anyway for many different reasons – some good, some bad.

    The third group are hard core and will always go and think their brand is really the elite movement that God is using more than anything else on the earth. Many of these will end up as Pastors, leaders, and wives of such.

    The last group are the serious ones who joined the church not knowing much, but love God, study the word, get progressively disillusioned, but keep seeking God and the truth and end up in churches somewhere else – and in many cases, churches that have no resemblance at all to what they first joined.

    But, by and large it’s mostly young people who become Christians. Young people who don’t know much Bible, don’t know anything about reformed theology, or how the Bible came about, or who the Church Fathers were etc etc.

    But, I don’t think you’ll find that the majority of young people are going to come initially from a total unchurched environment into a traditional hymn singing church. No offense to anyone here, but young kids aren’t bringing their friends in droves to the local church to sing hymns.

    Yes, hype wears off. But hype is good at attracting people initially who don’t know hype from real. And there’s some real in with the hype if you know what I mean.

    Some of you may not like my conclusions, but the fact is that many of the regulars on this site INITIALLY had good experiences in churches that they originally saw as life changing. And they were. And you may not be walking with God as you are now if it weren’t for that hyped up cool church that you now realize with age, experience and study, was not the last word in spirituality.

    In other words, Hillsong, Planet Shakers etc, will still be around for a while. And young kids will have their first encounter with Christ there, which is why I hold back from some of the heavier statements that are sometimes made.

  85. Anyone have a chance to listen to the Whisky Preacher interviewing Chris Rosebrough? Pretty interesting…

  86. I’ve listened to the first 16 minutes of it – can’t listen to more as its a bit too long for me!

    It was worthwhile hearing Chris Roseborough explain how he views heretics. It seems that he views people who have a different view from important orthodox theologies (esp as defined in the Lutheran church) as heretics. The example he gave was modalists are heretics; those who preach about the trinity are not.

    The important bit I thought was that he clearly said this was not for the purposes of hatred towards these people. He basically said that since Christ treated non-believers with gentleness and love, so we should treat heretics the same way. We treat them as non-believers – ie: with gentleness and love. Plus, his attitude is to converse with them.

    Well, I agree that whether we agree with people’s theology or not, we should try to treat them and one another with gentleness and love.

    I am not as sure as Chris Roseborough about who is a heretic. I tend to think that if we believe in the person of Christ (conventionally as Son of God, and His resurrection, and belief of the kind that results in endeavouring to follow Him), then God will probably give us a lot of leeway about the nuts and bolts of how the whole thing works, beyond the person of Christ. The message is not ‘believe in me and get your theology right, and you will be saved’. It is simply ‘believe in me’. Nothing needs to be added.

    Nonetheless, those who teach are held accountable for what they teach, so they have greater responsibility to be very careful with the truth.

    Even Christ didn’t specify what our precise theology should be in order to be saved. He simply called us to believe in, abide in, and follow Him. Which to me also says that we need to be gentle with one another, because which of us has the whole picture right?

    Since love is the most important aspect of our lives as Christians – love for God and for one another – this must be more of a measure of Christ in us even than our theology. We can and should test our theology, because dodgy theology can be extremely damaging (as we all recognise here), but love does cover a multitude of sins.

  87. To me, saying someone is a heretic implies that they are going to hell. I don’t think we can necessarily judge that. On the other hand, we can debate theology without making that judgement call, and hopefully gain something of value from doing so.

  88. I’m fascinated that you seem more concerned about Chris calling him a heretic than Phil Shepherd is! These two guys have a great relationship and Phil wants to do at least two more interviews with Rosebrough.

    Listening to just 16 mins doesn’t do it justice – the other interview where Chris interviews him is very interesting, the journey from youth pastor to Whisky Preacher, what a progression.

    I must admit that listening to some of the things he says reminds me of Rob Bell. A phrase that Rosebrough uses to describe some of their theology is “blue sleeps faster than Tuesday” – it makes little sense to the uninitiated into postmodern language.

  89. I admire the calm approach both men have towards conversation. It’s great that they are both capable of dialogue with those who differ from them.

    In 16 minutes, I found things that were good. I’m sure there were plenty of other good things to come. I’m afraid that podcasts aren’t my thing. Actually, that 16 minutes was an effort for me – I did it only because you asked the question! I’m not dismissing its value. Reading is faster for me. I do most things fast.

    I’m really not concerned that Chris calls Phil Shepherd in particular a heretic. I know nothing about Phil Shepherd. I don’t listen to many podcasts or read many blogs. I do more internet searches on subjects that interest me, and the only blogs I particularly follow are this one, groupsects, plus at times I catch up on Lifestream, which is usually very calm and peaceful, and puts me in a reflective frame of mind. Apart from that, I follow current affairs, in particular, business and economic news and investment issues.

    You make me feel quite ignorant, since I don’t know half the preachers you mention until I look up your links!

    No, what I am interested in with Chris, and any other preacher, apart from the truth/falsehood of what they actually teach, is their attitude.

    To me, attitude is very important. In this brief impression of Chris, I thought his attitude was pretty good. However, he was unashamed to clearly confirm that he regards various people as heretics. Fair enough. I just disagree that we can write individual people off, based entirely on what we think we know about their theology.

    The reason is that theology doesn’t necessarily determine if someone knows Christ.

    I’m not trying to minimise the importance of theology, or scripture. It’s just that in my very simple view of scripture, scripture itself tells me that we cannot see into other men’s hearts, and that the only requirement for salvation is genuine belief in Christ.

    For me, the qualification on belief, is that it is the kind of belief that causes us to trust Him and follow Him. Not just believing in Him. I base this view on my understanding of scripture.

    So I can’t write off all the people I disagree with as going to hell – only God knows their hearts.

    Therefore, I am unwilling to label people heretics unless they clearly are renouncing Christ, but I am quite happy to label some teachings as heresies!

  90. I am also influenced by the fact that I have personally followed Christ since I was 9 years old, and in that time, I can’t say I had perfect theology. Far from it. Probably still far from it. At least I’m examining things more these days. His presence in my life though has been ongoing and very important to me, for as long as I can remember.

  91. Must admit, I’m a bit addicted to podcasts. The gift of an Ipod by the kids set me free from being stuck at the computer listening to downloads.

  92. Chris asked him what the purpose of the cross was to the Whisky Preacher who goes on to answer that “God, from the Genesis narrative to now, has been trying to redeem creation, that we have bought into a lie that we are horrible people and that we are pieces of crap, that satan has come to lie and destroy us, and he thinks that satan has used that perpetual lie that we’re not worth it.

    “That God all the way from the Prophets to the Kings to whatever, to try and reach down into this narrative to let us know that we are loved … he rejects the idea from Augustine that we are a fallen creation, he doesn’t buy that. Claims that the only dude that challenged Augustine was Pelagius and he had him killed.” (Which is not true)

    When he started wrestling with the idea that he no longer agreed with the idea of the fall of humanity, he started asking himself what was the purpose of the cross, and for a long time he didn’t know. To him Jesus is this amazing dude, a part of the community cult God we call the trinity, that something amazing happened on the cross but he can’t articulate what that was for the longest time.

    Where he’s at now is that the cross to him is the alternate reminder/ example and decontruction/reconstruction of the idea that we are a good creation and we are loved by our Creator and we are worth it.

    When asked how he makes sense of passages like Isaiah 53 where Jesus is pierced for our transgressions or 1Cor 15 where Christ died for our sins, a redemptive atonement, propitiation, he doesn’t think Isiah is necessarily talking about Jesus, believes that Jesus “became” that figure Isaiah is talking about, doesn’t believe it’s fulfilled prophecy – Jesus just “happened” to be that person. He believes that creation is buying into the lie about sin, and when we buy into that lie, it creates things like murder, adultry, idolatry that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy etc etc ..”

    He articulates in the “blue sleeps faster than Tuesday” kind of way.

    I’m not buying it, a lot of half-truths and not a lot of satifactory answers to the big questions (that God has clearly already articulated/answered).

    Still an interesting insight into postmodern thinking.

  93. I should say “some” postmodern thinking – though he does represent the Outlaw Preachers (a big group)way of thinking.

  94. Joel A’Belll of Hillsong just posted this video on YouTube. It is his daughter Harmony advising on how to vote tomorrow. I detect a Liberal bias.

  95. Well, another pastor just posted this on my FB……

    Ecc 10:2 “A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,but a fool’s heart to the left.”

    🙂 🙂

  96. Teddy, I listened to the first part of the podcast. I was probably a bit hard on Chris. I appreciate the way he says kind things about a guy he totally disagrees with -shows love, at the same time that he debates.

    He also goes through whole sermons and quotes – not just digging up dirt.

    Part of me thinks that it would be hard to have your sermon critiqued line by line, but on the other hand, preachers have to learn to either say good stuff or not say anything.

  97. “LOL when I read in the SundayTele that Hillsong tried 2 buy the Fairmont Resort. Wrong?YES childish?/YES Desperate?/YES!”

  98. I stayed at that resort for a family members birthday. It was shocking. Once was 5 star; when we went, there were practically no staff left and the restaurant seemed to be serving up leftovers from several days earlier. The people who had organised the birthday were soooo disappointed.

    It would be good if Hillsong did buy it and turn it around. But extremely bad PR, probably. Yep, the journalists must have been a bit desperate if they printed that without checking it first.

  99. And HeReC3 is happy to get Peter Irvine speaking around their churches. HeReC3 just had their Fat-Cat Conference down in Victoria with Peter Irvine speaking as well:

    The Cre8 Kingdom Business Conference is presented by Australian Marketplace Connections (AMC) and empowers Christians in the marketplace to be well connected leaders of character, excellence and influence. In partnership with Melbourne churches, Cre8 provides focused teaching and resources on the
    hallmarks of business success. You will also connect with highly regarded and motivated leaders committed to serving Christ well in the marketplace.
    The 2009 Cre8 Conference was very well received by over 330 attendees from a wide variety of church and business backgrounds. Church Leaders also found that through Cre8 they were able to
    more effectively connect with their business people. The Cre8 2010 one-day conference will be held on Friday 14th May with the theme “engage @ the leading edge” and includes:

    • Morning – ILG Round Table
    • Afternoon – Elective workshops including Lunch
    and Networking Dinner
    • Evening – Keynote Address and “Destineers” Launch

    This will be a day packed with insights, connections and added value for civic, business and professional leaders and entrepreneurs to fulfil their God given purpose in the marketplace.
    Be a part of what God is doing in Australian Business and join us at Cre8 2010 Conference.

    Jeremy Ellis (Conference Convenor)
    Peter Kentley (AMC CEO)
    Who should attend?

    • Business Leaders
    • Civic Leaders
    • Pastors & Church Leaders
    • Emerging Leaders and those starting out in business
    • Professionals
    • Entrepreneurs

    Get equipped to impact your world…

    Keynote Speakers

    Peter Irvine
    Peter has had over 40 years experience in business at a high profile management level.
    In 1996 Peter, with his business partner Nabi Saleh, established the Gloria Jean’s Coffees
    franchise in Australia. Today there are over 490 Gloria Jean’s stores across Australia and over
    900 coffee houses in 35 countries worldwide. Peter Irvine is the author of ‘Win In Business – 20 keys to catapult you towards your vision’. He is a regular speaker at industry forums and events, including Franchise Council of Australia events, the National Retailers Convention and the BRW Franchising Round Table. He regularly talks about a range of franchise and business industry issues including motivational business advice and his signature speech – “20 keys that will catapult you to your vision”.

    ILG Round Table
    AMC Integrated Leadership Groups (ILG) provide non-competitive space where leadership experience and
    peer mentoring are networked in an environment of integrity and confidentiality. Whilst being similar to other CEO networking groups, ILG differs in that the conversation doesn’t stop when Christian faith is mentioned – this is where the conversation starts! This special ILG Round Table is complimentary for ILG members and great value for non-members to join in round table conversations with high level business and professional leaders.

    Round Table Electives:
    Andrew Stanley Market trends and business confidence into the future
    Anne Winckel Recruitment – Getting leading-edge people ‘on the bus’
    Barry Pipella Principles that achieved global sales records during the GFC
    Carey Cox Governance principles for leading-edge business
    Clive Bird Tax – The ‘top ten’ issues and opportunities for business leaders
    George Savvides Leading change: Medibank’s change of DNA and enabling leadership
    Keith Hanslow Protect your business from seven deadly, but common legal mistakes
    Kevin Bailey Leading-edge insights from the Money-Managers story
    Martien Kelderman Reconciling business philosophies and Christian values
    Penny Mulvey Leading by example – Integrity and humility key to success
    Peter Irvine Leading-edge insights from the Gloria Jean’s story
    Peter McHugh Releasing the Kingdom of God in your marketplace
    Prof Ian Harper Intelligence for business leaders – Is there another GFC ahead?
    Richard Shrapnel Leading-edge insights – Lessons from businesses that know how to achieve their goals
    Tony Gattari Leading-edge insights from the Harvey Norman story

    For more information on ILGs, visit:

    Peter Irvine and Tony Gattari will present an introductory session to all delegates, followed by a selection of workshops presented by prominent Christian business leaders:

    Keith Hanslow How to protect your personal assets and plan for succession
    Kevin Bailey Building a leading-edge business from the ground up
    Martien Kelderman Handling workplace conflict both professionally and biblically
    Penny Mulvey Grow your leading-edge assets: Reputation and communication
    Peter Irvine Power-up Christian leadership for marketplace transformation
    Peter McHugh Releasing the presence of God in your daily occupation
    Richard Shrapnel Strategic growth to take your business to the next level
    Tony Gattari Power-up your marketing to grow your business

    After the afternoon workshops, delegates will enjoy some networking time and a buffet dinner to connect with business leaders and with each other. Between sessions, delegates also have opportunity to meet with sponsor representatives and browse relevant books and materials in the C3 foyer.

    The Evening Keynote Event includes the launch of “Destineers” in conjunction with Metro Church, LightFM and AMC. Destineers are marketplace small groups committed to growing people to achieve their destiny in Christ. The groups focus on leadership development built on Christian discipleship.

    The Cre8 Conference finale will be an inspiring message entitled “Power Up your Leadership for Take-off” from Peter Irvine and Tony Gattari. It is designed to help launch Christian Business Leaders to make a significant difference in the marketplace.

    See website for MORE details

    or call the infoline on 03 9017 3111

    C3 Centre, Christian City Church
    171 Rooks Road, Vermont VIC 3133

  100. He is speaking around different C3 churches for Pathfinder events. He did so at C3 last month, (I was informed).

    From C3 Coffs Harbour:

    Here is Peter Irvine speaking about how to get into people’s heads to effectively brand them so companies can get what they want from plebs:

    “So today the amount of coffee that is sold today is phenomenal compared- and it needed a mindset change- And in your business and in your category and wherever you work, you can change the mindset of your town or your city or the country to your product category or to product brand with focus.” – Peter Irvine, 8:15

    Watch from 5 minutes onwards (it’s pretty boring). It’s an interesting watch then on to see how Christian’s are leading the way in brain-washing techniques too were used. No wonder Hillsong did so well branding their names beyond people’s foreheads!

    Wasn’t Irvine an elder or board member at Hillsong? (I forget now!) 😐

  101. Specks, you are making me laugh again. (Second last para.)

    Some of the topics in the business conference are one’s that I’d find interesting. Some you can get at any seminar on building businesses. For example, probably:

    “● Barry Pipella Principles that achieved global sales records during the GFC
    ● Carey Cox Governance principles for leading-edge business
    ● Keith Hanslow How to protect your personal assets and plan for succession”

    There’s nothing wrong with including those in a Christian focused business/networking conference.

    I’d have found the following topics worth listening to:

    ● Penny Mulvey Leading by example – Integrity and humility key to success
    ● Martien Kelderman Handling workplace conflict both professionally and biblically

    Anyway, in principle, its good to see an attempt to relate to people in the business community by a church.

    The current Gloria Jeans saga, and the prior Mercy Ministries issues, including their findings, must raise some eyebrows.

    Also – while I imagine this conference could be of value to many people, I’d also love to see the business of working looked at in ways that go beyond being ‘leaders’ or developing ‘leaders’. It’s not just about making money or influencing people. It’s also about doing good in the world, wherever you are.

  102. Brian Houston loves it when church is full. Is he now not so sure?

    “Since Conference ended, I have been meditating on this thought: The mentality of a crowd is so different to the spirit of The Church. Through the years, Hillsong Conference and Churches across the globe have gathered ‘crowds’ of people through the diligence and hard work of many, but mainly through the favour and blessing of a gracious God.

    If we work all year round simply to draw a ‘crowd’ to our church services or events, (and I’m not talking about a large group of people, because Thank God for the opportunity we get to share with many, many people each week) then we have missed the point. When the spirit of The Church leans towards the mentality of a crowd, then we begin to move backwards….”

  103. Quote of the day from the above article……

    “God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life.”

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  106. Get these heretics out of our country. Now they’ve ‘infiltrated’ into the US. Why don’t they try to set up ministries in India or other 3rd world countries like in South America or somewhere like that? Why, because it isn’t so glamorous is it, so of course there are Hillsong London/paris/NYC…. I’ve heard yer excuses. Keep them for yourselves. Of course your kind of gospel can only go so far. I can see why people in the 3rd world countries would slam the door in yer faces. keep your false gospel all you want as long as it’s contained please, and get out of my country. You’re not welcome here.

  107. JL,
    …not welcome here…

    Apparently they are, which is why they’re so successful. Expect even more phenomenal growth over the next ten years, should the Lord tarry!

  108. Steve,
    Of course they are welcomed with arms wide open by unsuspecting people who want the narcissistic / watered down teachings. Let me ask you this then, what are you equating ‘success’ with?

  109. Souls! One at a time, of course, but if they flow in, that’s great, like on the Day of Pentecost.

    I don’t think they infiltrated anywhere. There was a demand. They tend to be very good at publishing the good news.

    Imagine that. A demand for Jesus!

  110. “I can see why people in the 3rd world countries would slam the door in yer faces.”

    I think they’d do pretty well there actually.

  111. For Hillsong, Prverbs 16:

    16How much better to get wisdom than gold,

    to choose understanding rather than silver!

    17The highway of the upright avoids evil;

    he who guards his way guards his life.

    18Pride goes before destruction,

    a haughty spirit before a fall.

    19Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed

    than to share plunder with the proud.

  112. Q,
    What are the basis for your conclusion? Have you ever been acclimated to those nations? If so, why do you say what you say? I think it’s a legitimate point, as all the hillsong churches have made it’s presence in the most developed of nations, and who wouldn’t blame them for that. After all, it takes a true Christian to have heart for the mission field.

  113. because in developing nations there ARE mega churches similar to Hillsong.

    I’m not saying whether Hillsong is right or wrong. I just wonder why people are so sure that a Hillsong church wouldn’t get big numbers in an African, or South American city.

  114. I don’t think the question is whether or not they’d do well there, but more so on whether or not they’re willing… Besides to be quite honest, hillsong’s theology really has no place in the developing world. Seriously, do you really think that sermons on ‘leadership’ or ‘purpose driven life’ have any relevance whatsoever to the onset of such deplorable conditions they daily face? Do you actually think that people there can afford to buy any of pastor houston’s ‘resources’ and attend expensive conference meetings/ united concerts, etc…??? I’m sure people in that kind of conditions probably are barely hanging onto life itself, and needless to say, would put value on something more eternal than that, because you see, when it’s life or death you’re talking about, people tend to change perspectives a bit.

  115. JL, in every developing country there are people who can afford to buy CDs and DVDs.

    And developing countries need leaders and people who have purpose driven lives too.

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