An Australian pastor is stressing all the good that Hillsong Church has done throughout the years despite the many scandals it faces today.
Hillsong Church, the global megachurch that began in Australia decades ago may now be on the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but one Australian pastor is not forgetting all the good it has done for its communities worldwide. Former pastor and CEO of Grow a Healthy Church in Perth, Australia John Finkelde recently opened up about how Hillsong's conferences, worship music and emphasis on helping pastors build strong local churches has deeply impacted him.
Hillsong Church is widely known across the world for its hip approach to faith: through pop-sounding music and hymns of praise to a "come as you are" motto that welcomes diversity. But for one Australian pastor, Hillsong's lesser-known work with the poor is just as significant as its trailblazing church services that are attended by celebrities. But this has been recently overshadowed by the scandal involving its own founder, Brian Houston, who was slapped with allegations of misconduct, leading him to resign.
"I think there is a sense of shock, a sense of, 'My goodness, how could this happen?'" Finkelde told Charisma News. "At the moment, there's a sense of lamenting and mourning."
Finkelde acknowledges the pain that Hosuton's actions, as well as the actions of some pastors that have left Hillsong, had caused the global megachurch and their victims. However, he claims that the Australian megachurch still has love for both Houston and his wife, Bobbie. He remarked, "Brian and Bobbie have done some magnificent things to shape the Australian church in really good ways over the last 30, 40 years."
Finkelde believes that while Houston was left unaccountable for his actions throughout the years, the megachurch itself had rapidly outpaced its own growth and ability to govern and lead itself and its pastors. It was the same lack of accountability that led to the downfall of former Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz. Now, these lessons have helped Hillsong learn how to be held accountable.
"Pastor, sharpen up your levels of connection to your boards, to your ministry friends, to counselors," Finkelde advised. "Sharpen those areas up so that you don't end up in a place of being unaccountable and just leading a lifestyle that will lead you to some really tragic ends."
This week, a senior member of Hillsong Church wrote a letter addressed to the megachurch's global board, criticizing the way they handled the complaints hurled at Houston. According to The Guardian, Hillsong's head of people and development John Mays said in a letter dated March 19 that Bobbie should be permanently dismissed from Hillsong.
In the letter, Mays alleged that Houston "considered himself beyond disciplinary boundaries" and defied these boundaries "without further recourse from those responsible for his discipline." The senior member concluded, "Unfortunately, I believe this typifies the leadership that is foundational to many unhealthy people practices employed within our Church based on my observations over many years."
Mays argued further that he did not view Bobbie as a victim and that she too must be held accountable for "willingness to tolerate such behavior and defiance on the part of her co-leader" because she too had the "biblical, professional and corporate responsibility to ensure accountability."