Hillsong Church

A charismatic Christian megachurch with a global reach and a strong emphasis on contemporary worship music.

Hillsong Church, originally established in Sydney, Australia, in 1983 by Brian and Bobbie Houston, has grown from a modest congregation to a global presence, now known as a charismatic Christian megachurch. The church’s early years were marked by its affiliation with the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God, and it experienced rapid growth due to its appeal among young people and its contemporary worship music. Hillsong Church became particularly well-known for its music ministry, producing dozens of popular songs and albums that have been integral to its services and global outreach.

In the late 1990s, after merging with Sydney Christian Life Centre, founded by Brian Houston’s father, Frank Houston, the church was rebranded to Hillsong Church. This period also saw the beginning of its international expansion, planting churches in cities like London and Kiev. By the 21st century, Hillsong had established a significant international footprint, planting additional churches in countries across the world, including Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Israel, Canada, and Mexico. Its global presence was further solidified when, in 2018, Hillsong left the ACC to become an autonomous denomination, emphasizing its identity as a global and charismatic church.

Hillsong’s influence extends beyond its physical churches, with a significant online following and its services attracting thousands of attendees worldwide. The church measures its reach not only by physical attendance but also by online viewership, which has grown significantly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Hillsong Church has also faced controversy, particularly concerning its leadership. Brian Houston, the church’s founder, stepped down from his senior roles in 2022 amid allegations and legal challenges related to his handling of sexual abuse cases within the church. Additionally, Carl Lentz, a prominent Hillsong pastor in New York, was dismissed in 2020 due to moral failures, including an affair, which brought further scrutiny to the church’s governance and accountability mechanisms.

Despite these challenges, Hillsong continues to have a wide-reaching impact through its ministries, including Hillsong Music, Hillsong Kids, Hillsong Youth, and various social and community services. The church’s governance is overseen by the Hillsong Global Board and a group of elders, with Pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley leading as global senior pastors as of 2022.

The church’s teachings and practices, including its ordination of women as pastors and its association with the Word of Faith movement, have been subjects of discussion and critique. Its stance on issues like homosexuality and the prosperity gospel has drawn both support and criticism from different quarters of the Christian community​​​​​​.

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