A staged protest against Mark Driscoll at Hillsong Conference 2015.

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We have been emailed information about a certain event planned to take place at Hillsong Conference 2015.

Print, Promote & Protest

Print, Promote & Protest


We would like to make it clear:

Mark Driscoll does NOT represent Fundamentalist Christianity but rather that of a cult leader. Although it appeared he began as a “fundamental Christian”, it was fundamental Christianity sounding the alarm of Mark Driscoll’s Emergent/Liberal progression. Not only does he still dabble in their liberal “tribal” notions and obfuscation games, Driscoll is firmly planted in the Purpose-Driven movement and had no problem espousing their vision casting and leadership-centered doctrines.

Mark Driscoll has run from discipline and now associates himself with Prosperity and Word of Faith churches such as Robert Morris’ Gateway Church, Brian Houston’s Hillsong and Joseph Prince’s New Creation Church. In fact, Mark Driscoll is now being discipled by the Word of Faith proponent Robert Morris of Gateway Church.

Even though Driscoll has marketed himself as fundamentally conservative, other conservative Christian leaders have stated, “It’s over. Marks [sic] should resign. Nobody should go to his church. He’s unqualified for ministry“.

We ask, is he switching camps to escape responsibility, accountability and discipline for his actions? Should we be surprised that Brian Houston has no problem with the ethical integrity of this man, by asking him to speak at Hillsong? This issue is not Fundamentalism – we are dealing with cult leaders abusing their positions and thus getting away with abusing people.

We hope Christians from all denominations speak out against the cult-like behaviour of Mark Driscoll and its apparent acceptance by Brian Houston.

Information about the Protest:

Press release:  Planned Protest against Hillsong Conference guest speaker Mark Driscoll at Hillsong’s Waterloo Campus in Sydney, 9:15 AM on Sunday May 31st

(for questions please contact Benjamin Ady on 0400048195 or peopleagainstfundamentalism@gmail.com)

People Against Fundamentalism are calling for a protest against Sydney’s Hillsong church’s invitation to former mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll, often accused of being a misogynist and a bully, to speak at their Sydney conference this winter. An online petition against Driscoll’s presence at Hillsong’s conference has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures (1)

People Against Fundamentalism have watched Mark Driscoll ongoingly hurt many people, especially women, in  Seattle, with his misogyny, bullying, and hardline complementarian teaching.

Last year Mars Hill, the 14,000 member megachurch Driscoll founded and led in Seattle, went down in flames because of his bad behaviour (2). The former church is currently facing a lawsuit for racketeering alleging misuse of funds designated for church planting in Ethiopia and India, including the use of those same funds to pay an agency US$210,000 to game the New York Times bestseller list to get Driscoll’s latest book, Real Marriage, on top (3, 4)

Brian Houston, Hillsong’s senior pastor, is himself potentially under investigation and facing legal repercussions for failing to report his own father and previous Hillsong pastor Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of minors. (5) Jim Henderson, one of the leaders of the protest that brought down Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church last year, and author of the book “Question Mark” about Driscoll and bullying in the church, said “Given Houston’s precarious position with the Royal Commission it seems a risk not worth taking to bring someone else on stage who is similarly under investigation for racketeering charges- What if some of the protesters begin linking the two of them together and accuse Brian of either attempting to divert attention away from his own legal allegations by focusing on Driscoll’s or of processing his own guilt in public using Driscoll as a surrogate”

Rachel Held Evans, a popular Christian blogger and author, says that Driscoll has an “alarming preoccupation with sex and masculinity”, and characterised his most recent book, “Real Marriage” as promoting the idea that “real marriage is to be based on a hierarchical pattern of submission” and as suggesting that it is “sinful” for a wife to withhold sex from her husband. (6)

Paul Tripp, executive director of the Centre for Pastoral Life and Care, and former board member at Mars Hill  said of  the culture created at by Mark at Mars Hill “This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.” (7)

Throughout his pastoral career at Mars Hill Church in Seattle Driscoll consistently generated controversy by speaking of women and the feminine with near contempt, referring to the church as “chickified”, saying the church needs dudes, saying dudes are and must be the leaders and denigrating “chicks” as being of no consequence. (8) Mark has ongoingly embraced and taught complementarianism, the doctrine that God gave men and women different roles, with men as the leaders and women as the followers. As such, women were precluded from the ranks of leadership at Mars Hill.

In 2011, Driscoll posted this status update to his facebook page “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?” (9)

Mark Driscoll has bragged about his bullying and casting aside of anyone who disagreed with him “There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God’s grace it will be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus.” (10)

The worldwide church-planting network (over 500 churches) which Mark Driscoll founded, Acts 29, kicked him AND his church Mars Hill out of their network last year, citing “ungodly and disqualifying behaviour”. They asked Mark to step down from ministry for an extended period of time and seek help. (11)

Mark has been accused by many of the pastors/elders of his own church of

  • Lack of self control

  • Verbally assaulting people

  • Slander

  • Creating a culture of fear

  • Being verbally abusive

  • Being arrogant (12)

The board of Elders who investigated these charges found that Mark Driscoll had a pattern of “persistent sin”, and they intended to rebuke him and ask him to enter a restoration process that would eventually lead to his restoration to leadership. The church’s elders were “deeply grieved” when Driscoll surprised them by resigning, thereby circumventing that process. This was followed very quickly by the dissolution of the megachurch he started. (13, 14)

Hillsong–please: don’t give this misogynistic, abusive, ex pastor a platform. Recently, a mere 4 months after the events culminating in his resignation and the dissolution of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll has relaunched his ministry, still calling himself a “pastor”, and bragging that he’s speaking at Hillsong conference in Sydney this year. We don’t need or want his abusive version of Christianity in Australia.

  1. https://www.change.org/p/hillsong-remove-mark-driscoll-from-hillsong-europe-conference

  2. http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/october/goodbye-mars-hill-multisite-church-dissolve-mark-driscoll.html?paging=off

  3. http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/unreal_sales_for_driscoll_s_real_marriage

  4. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/mars.hill.leaders.may.face.racketeering.charges/44073.htm

  5. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/senior-counsel-calls-for-hillsong-founder-to-be-referred-to-police/story-fngburq5-1227162370779

  6. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mark-driscoll-real-marriage

  7. http://www.religionnews.com/2014/08/28/mars-hill-pastors-letter-mark-driscoll-step-down-ministry-leadership/

  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSrZVF3FEUQ

  9. http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-ministry-upset-with-pastor-mark-driscolls-flippant-facebook-comment-52330/

  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfTmgPhmlto

  11. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/08/08/acts-29-network-removes-co-founder-mark-driscoll-and-mars-hill-church-from-membership/

  12. http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/03/Statement-of-Formal-Charges-and-Issues-by-Pastor-Dave-Kraft.pdf

  13. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/10/30/current-mars-hill-pastor-says-investigation-findings-showed-mark-driscoll-not-qualified-as-elder/

  14. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/10/19/mars-hill-church-board-of-elders-mark-driscoll-resigned-instead-of-enter-restoration-plan-to-deal/

Hillsong Insider (Part 2): “The Hillsong Takeover of a Norwegian Charismatic Mega Church”

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This is Part 2 of my series of 3 articles. Please feel free to read my first article below:

In this article, I will be looking at how Hillsong asked Oslo Christian Center to join their godfather family in the spring of 2014.

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THE HILLSONG TAKEOVER

I was actually not at church the Sunday it was announced to the whole church. One of my friends met me later the same evening and excitedly told me that the church had joined the family of Hillsong.

I thought I wasn’t hearing right! Never in a hundred years did I expect the church to join the “family of Hillsong”!

I thought it was good enough, more than enough, in fact, all sufficient to be a part of the family of God!!! Whatever did it mean to join the family of Hillsong? What were the implications? It sounded like a good ole boys club scenario to me, where you get asked to join the club. It’s like, what on earth had we done to put us in the spotlight, enough to catch the attention of an Australian mega church on the other side of the globe? I realized all the Norwegian church members were really honored and touched that we had been asked to join their family. “Humbled,” in fact, to quote our pastor. That we would make the list and be asked to join was really amazing to the church members. Everybody thought it was very exciting!

I was curious to hear how the decision had played out. Had we voted on it? Or even talked about it? Had I had my head in the sand? How had I not even heard the buzz in the air? Was it really just landed on us with absolutely no warning?

It felt like boarding a train and knowing more or less that you will end up at this-and-this destination, but then midway, without warning, they change the engine and you head off in a completely different direction! You have no idea where the stops will be and much less where the destination is!  In short, I felt completely disoriented!

This was a huge decision on the church’s part, international in fact. How was it possible we had not been informed?

AN UNHEALTHY CHURCH MENTALITY

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 (Emphasis mine)

I did some research and found out that no, indeed, I hadn’t missed a vote or earlier announcement. A couple of members seemed shocked that I even asked about a congregational vote. They explained to me with a wave of the hand that one can’t have all the grannies getting involved to vote on the color of the sanctuary curtainsOne needs a team of leaders to make these decisions because otherwise one would never get anything done!  I couldn’t believe that was the explanation they tossed me!

I was seriously concerned about going to a church where the leadership made international decisions that they did not even run by us, the lay people, for some feed back. I asked some leaders if they had had prior knowledge. I was told that one month prior to the congregation being told, all the leaders, such as cell group leaders and various team leaders, were called in to a meeting and briefed on the idea. So first, the very top of the pyramid of leaders had discussed this, and when they had considered all the facts and felt it was a good idea, they presented it to the lesser leaders.

It was naturally presented in glowing terms by the top leaders, like it would only be a benefit to the church. We would of course keep our church name and own identity and operate church as usual. Joining Hillsong family would not affect our finances. But being part of the family of Hillsong would probably give us more access to Hillsong material and speakers and conferences and discounts of sorts. The leaders said at the meeting that they were open for feedback and thoughts around this decision.

It probably felt a bit like being a guest at a wedding.  “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”   Maybe some of the wedding guests have a certain gut feeling this marriage might not go well or are afraid the couple have not been entirely honest with one another or that they should give the relationship more time before they rush into this decision, but the doubting guest knows that the couple have made up their minds and nothing they say will probably stop them from taking their vows. Also, if they were to speak up and the couple got married anyway and lived happily ever after, then they would go down in history as the doubting guest with no faith in the couple’s commitment. Who is really going to risk their reputation and go out on a limb like that?

So I can imagine it was something like that at that meeting.  Any silent objectors stayed silent and hoped for the best! Just sprinkle some good faith over it and it will work out for the best. I mean, hey, what’s not to like about it? It’s a win win situation! It’s a warm wall at our back! I mean, who in their right mind would turn down such an offer?  It’s too good to be true! To get to be a part of famous Hillsong but still be our own identity?! Well, I wondered if it was just that:  too good to be true.

Sadly, I personally think this decision says lots about our leaders faith and trust in our congregation; our congregations faith and trust in our leadership; and most importantly, how we as a church have put our faith and trust into Hillsong to love, grow, comfort and support us rather than God.

How is joining Hillsong helping us if we are faithfully preaching God’s Word daily? What power do they have that we don’t already have? Why the pressure to join? What are we saying about our church and leadership now that we’ve joined Hillsong? That we were incompetent?

HILLSONG’S OPERATION BEHIND THE TAKEOVER

So what did I know about Hillsong?  About what every body else does.  They are famous for their praise and worship music. I had an album of their music that somebody had given me and I knew others who rushed to get their newest albums as they cranked them out. We all sing their songs at some point in our various churches of all denominations. It’s this big church and popular Bible school destination. I mean, who with money doesn’t feel God calling them to a year of Bible school in exotic Australia???!!!! That’s really about all I knew about them. I mean, they are way over there on the other side of the globe. There are enough church goings-on to keep up with over here.  Why pay any special attention to Hillsong other than their music?

But if we were becoming a member of Hillsong family, that must mean we line up with their doctrine and way of doing church. So I felt I better research the Hillsong pastors and see what they were up to, as I assumed we would be hearing more from them in the near future.  As I looked into Hillsong, absolutely everything alarmed me.

Bit by bit I pieced together our involvement with Hillsong.  Apparently we had history that went way back. Our pastor had studied at the Hillsong Bible School himself! So did someone at Hillsong Bible School give him the idea that he can convert his church into a Hillsong Church? If so, what Bible School would do such a thing? Why not hand over the church and start his own Hillsong Church upfront in Oslo?

When he returned to Norway, his father, who was the senior pastor and founder of Oslo Christian Center, gave him the opportunity to start a church in downtown Oslo. So the son started up a brand new church that was a branch of his father’s church. They rented Victoria Theater on the main drag in Oslo, a couple blocks from the palace. It was a theater that was a bar and concert venue the rest of the week. As I looked into Hillsong campus churches world wide, I noticed that seemed to be their trademark, renting secular theaters for church services. So we were apparently a chip off the old block! I guess it’s too embarrassing and uncool to meet in traditional churches. I assume this does not really accommodate the whole stage effect that these hip young “churches” are into.

I was told that Brian and Bobbie Houston had  been emotionally and spiritually supportive about our young pastor starting this church. They had really prayed over him. Then when the son took over as senior pastor when his father retired they also really prayed over him again!

One year later, after he had been functioning as senior pastor of the three campuses of Oslo Christian Center, Hillsong invited us to join their family.

I hate to be so nonspiritual that I just look at the cold hard facts of finance and business opportunities, but all the same, I found myself pondering some things.  Hillsong has a campus in Stockholm and Copenhagen… why not Norway? Norway is the most evangelical country of Scandinavia, so the market is big for a church like Hillsong. We have one of the best economies in the world and the highest standard of living. From a purely financial point of view, who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?

Well, we were already here. So we would have been stiff competition for Hillsong, to be perfectly honest. So maybe Hillsong thought if you can’t beat them, join them. Whatever the case, I couldn’t get rid of this nagging feeling that this was a great strategy on the part of Hillsong.

It wasn’t only our church that joined the family of Hillsong.  A few months earlier, Intro Church also located in downtown Oslo, joined the family of Hillsong. We joined the family of Hillsong in the spring of 2014 and that summer, Norway was the most represented country at the London Hillsong summer conference.

A couple months before we joined the family of Hillsong, Pastor Clark from the London Hillsong campus, spoke at our leadership conference. That must have been a key weekend for all the leaders that were in the know! The following year after we had become members, they had three Hillsong pastors as speakers  at the leadership conference: Hillsong pastors from Stockholm, Copenhagen and London.

The latest checkup on the OKS.no website shows that they now have various groups you can join, such as, “The Creative Team,” “The Kingdom Builders,” and “The Sisterhood.”  These are ideas that come from Hillsong.

IS OUR CHURCH LOSING IT’S IDENTITY?

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” Galatians 3:1 (Emphasis mine)

I remember the first Easter service I was at the church, the sermon our pastor preached was really good and strong. It was an excellent service and had an impact on many. In fact, the people that I invited to that Easter service ended up coming back because it made such an impression!

But a year later, around the time we were joining the Hillsong family, the Easter service was very different. First of all, our pastor did not preach, even though he was present. The pastor from Stockholm Hillsong preached. I just didn’t understand why the Hillsong pastor wouldn’t want to be preaching at his own church on Easter morning. And why would our pastor move over on such an important Sunday? This is the big Sunday they encourage everyone to invite guests and people that maybe don’t normally go to church. If I had invited anyone to church that Sunday, they wouldn’t have gotten an impression of our own pastor. The sermon was so unmemorable. I can’t even remember the main points.

But worst of all, was that they had a trapeze artist swinging from silk scarves hanging from the stage ceiling as the praise and worship band played. It was a total show! It did not at all help me to think about the real reason of “Resurrection Sunday.” The show took over and as our pastor got up to do announcements, he said, ” Wow! What are we going to do next Sunday to compete with this?!!”   And I thought, “Yes, what are you going to do? You have whet an unstoppable appetite. The show must go on. You have brought cake and circus to the church. Now you are going to get up and bore us with a sermon? Well, at least keep it short and sweet and peppy and fresh!”

When they tantalize our senses with so many experiences, they do not prepare us for a serious sermon. We just want more of the fun stuff. Oh please!

Don’t  we have enough entertainment on our T.V., internet, Facebook, and iPhones? Do we really come to church for more of the same stuff? Like trapeze artists swinging on silk scarves to the music of praise and worship? Talk about caving into the carnal desires of the flesh!

WHY can’t we stick with the simple Gospel? The King of the universe was born in a stable. When Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, came to Jerusalem for the Passover, which we now refer to as Palm Sunday, He rode in on a donkey. Just one Easter service at our church cost more then both of those events put together!  I couldn’t help thinking about the churches being burned in Pakistan and Egypt. Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ suffering and being martyred for the sake of the Gospel. Meanwhile we just pumped more and more money into presenting  the simple Gospel to wealthy, high-maintenance western Christians.

That was one of the last Sundays I was at that church. The next Sundays I came only to fulfill my cafe duties through to the end of the spring semester. I simply could no longer with good conscience support the theology which is of course the backbone of any church–what they believe and stand for and put the focus on.  I want to follow Jesus and not be a part of some big namebrand church that pumps loads of time and energy and money into entertaining the crowd.

HEADING DOWN HOUSTON RD

It was easy to see where Hillsong was headed. The Hillsong Praise Band has performed and worshiped with practicing Roman Catholics and partook in their pagan rites at the national Catholic World Youth Day, Sydney Australia.

That is called ecumenism. Hillsong work with other faiths that teach things that are not in the Bible, like praying to saints, and worshiping Mary. And then the Catholics in turn let all other forms of faith on the stage, like Buddhists and Hindus and Shamans.

Hillsong also shared their stage with Brian and Jenn Johnson of Bethel  in Redding, California. Hillsong let Brian and Jenn Johnson’s praise and worship band open up their 20l4 summer conference in London. Brian Johnson openly joked in an interview at a Hillsong praise and worship workshop, that the “Glory cloud of God” mostly shows up when it’s his song!

I find it toxic to be in an environment that openly laughs and jokes about holy things like the presence of God. The glory cloud of God is no laughing matter! We need to get back to, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).

Hillsong pastor of the New York campus says he has “conversations” about a sin like homosexuality. There is no “Thus saith the Lord”  unless it’s important issues to them like tithing and new prophetic statements. Also, how anybody can find the Hillsong promotional video for their 2015 summer conference inspirational, I will never understand.  They make God sound very far away, as if we can hardly hear Him in the “violence of silence, brutalizing the senses”. We are “drawn by a whisper that waits for our response.” What does this mean? It’s nothing but pagan mysticism presented as Christianity!

At no point do the creators of the promotional video say we actually have the words of God in our hands. A book called the Bible.  A living book that we are meant to open and read.  And every “whisper” that we hear blowing out in this vast universe is meant to line up with the word of God.  And if it that “whisper” does not line up with the word of God, you chuck it out!

Hillsongs vision for 2015 in their own words is a “dangerous declaration, a new manifesto.”  I would have to indeed agree with them: Hillsong has a new dangerous declaration that I want to stay far away from. Their new manifesto is another Gospel, another faith and another Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Above are just some of the unsettling truths I came across. I am still learning more frightening information about Hillsong as I write. Hillsong’s takeover of Garden City Church should concern Christians globally.

Hillsong insider: the GCC “merge” “was surely and truly a “plotted corporate takeover””

There is nothing ethical about the way Hillsong is undermine and take over churches like mine. These are people’s lives after all that will be affected. We need to be careful who we put our trust in. I personally, feel betrayed with my church’s conduct. I felt pressured and manipulated and I am sure others felt the same way.

To me, I wish my church was more forthcoming about this takeover in advance. Why could they not trust their congregation in voting on this very important issue? Why did the congregation blindly hand over their trust to the pastors to make this decision for them? Why the secrecy? While I discovered that it wasn’t hidden knowledge that my pastor studied at Hillsong and met with Brian Houston on some occasions, why was it decided that the entire church would be influenced from the top down in secret?

Everything was so carefully managed and orchestrated. Was our church informed about Hillsong’s history in Australia and New Zealand? There had been some scandals involving Pastor Frank Houston, Brian Houston and other Hillsong leaders. Are we to embrace their theology?

And what would happen if we became a proper bonefide Hillsong “Church”? Who will own the assets? What if my pastor realised that he made a mistake? Will Hillsong simply see him as an asset and discard him the way Hillsong has dealt with leaders or troublemakers in the past?

These are tough questions that I hope I will find answers to.

Hillsong Insider (Part 1): “My exit out of a mega church… Never to return again”

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Why did I join a mega church in the first place is maybe a good place to start this saga.

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MY BACKGROUND

I was raised in a Christian home with the whole church culture of Sunday school, Sunday night, Wednesday night, youth group, youth retreats and the whole nine yards. As I rolled into my 20s with loads of energy which I poured into work and travel, it always nagged at me that I should be plugged into a good church. I saw the bad effects of always being on the go and not putting any real time into having a church family, godly people to encourage and challenge me in my walk of faith.

MY NEED FOR A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SAVIOUR

As I came to the end of my 20s I really hit a dead end. I realized I had been working my way to heaven and God’s grace had completely eluded me. I had become a sepulcher of dead works which I knew in Gods eyes were filthy rags. I was never going to “make it into the kingdom of God.” I faced that I had indeed been giving of my own strength and I was all done in.

Empty, with nothing more to give, I too needed a Savior. It was at this time that I realized I must prioritize God and my walk with Him and make changes in my work so I could really walk the talk. Not just talk the walk.

MY NEW CHURCH

And so it was at this time, spiritually on the rocks, that I stumbled in the doors of a mega church called City Church under the leadership of Oslo Christian Center. I sank gratefully into the comfortable, plush theater seats, sipping the coffee and chewing on the candy I had received at the door.

The young, hip, and very energetic pastor was preaching up a storm on the subject that all that we have is of Christ and for Christ.

Each Sunday the message sank in more and more. I had heard these truths all my life but it was as though I was hearing for the first time. There’s “hearing” and then there’s “hearing.” You know what I mean?

All the burden of striving for God and failing was lifted. I repented that I had been working my way to heaven. I really asked God to be Lord of my life and found the Scripture to be true…His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

So beyond a shadow of doubt the Lord used this preacher to really get through to me.

I was so happy to be saved and threw myself enthusiastically into volunteering on the cafe team and at the other church events. I was at this church about 1,5…2 years.

As we all know, success sells itself. It’s a big church and runs on a huge staff of volunteer and some paid staff.

As I settled into this church I had to think through all the reasons for going to this church and calling it home and backing that up with commitment like membership and tithing.

I had really found the joy of my salvation! It was all very exciting and fresh and new and I was positive about everything that my new-found journey of faith was taking me on! But I did not want to confuse my new-found joy of salvation with a body of people and church that I couldn’t go good for. Growing up 45 minutes from the mecca of charismatic mega stars of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I had plenty of cautious reserve.

MY BIBLICAL OBSERVATIONS

I began to read and dig into the word of God in a new way. I really liked the structure and order I saw in the church in the pages of the Bible.  It seemed simple and more like a bigger scale of what family and home life should be. Church is like your extended spiritual family.

Contrasted with that, what I found in the mega type churches is that they are not conducive to older people. They talk about being a church for everyone. But I find older generations being a part of the church a total myth. They are non-existent. I remember seeing some older people come to the leadership conference and I felt they must have come because they were very loyal grandparents of some of the kids in leadership… I mean why ever else would they listen to a volume cranked up 100 times over their hearing aids!!??  I realized it was not a church my own grandfather would have felt comfortable in. The pumped up music and disco lights would have been very overwhelming for him.

Even I got exhausted with the loud concert setting music every single week! It becomes such a performance. There was no point to sing along because I couldn’t hear myself sing, much less the person beside me! Even the Christmas service was pumped up, without a single slow classic song that we associate with Christmas. I asked the band why they had cut even the one classic they had done last year and I was told because there was not time in the program. And I thought, well there would be time if they would cut all the endless advertizing for upcoming events and the tithing pep talk!!!

The lighting was often so dim I could hardly read my Bible. Most people brought their phones so that they could read the text glowing in the dark.

MY REALIZATION

I realized I could not seriously continue in this church long-term and call it home. My own home and personal standards were more conservative. Since I was in the ripe marriageable age of late 20’s, the thought crossed my mind…would I want to raise kids in this church? Certainly not in a church where there were no grandparents around! Even my parents age were old and outdated for the hip young church! I’m not either sure I would want to raise kids in a church that would prime them for the clubbing life! To go from the church scene to the club scene would not be a very far step! It’s funny because that is the  whole image of the mega church….it’s meant to be so comfortable and such a low threshold that people can feel that they can step out of the club and into church with the same outfit on! I wonder if the leaders ever think of it from the other direction….that their kids will step from the church into the club on any given Sunday! In fact, I remember sometimes heading for the clubs with my Christian friends from youth group after Sunday night church!

I began to feel more and more that church should be a stark contrast from the world and what it offers. As a waitress, I work in dim light and listen to the world’s music every day. And I work in a decent chain hotel but they crank up the sexualized hip hop music at night.

Then I would head to church on Sundays and really feel that it was hardly a break from my workday. The praise and worship team would be up there jumping around like pop corn and trying to get us excited about praising Jesus. I found my mind wandering…noticing the praise leader had gotten new boots…..and thinking…o yeah, that’s right boots are on sale…I need a new spring pair! I mean seriously! It suddenly struck me why churches have had congregational singing. WE are as a church meant to praise the Lord. Not admire some worship band on stage as they channel our praise up to God!

One Sunday the young wife of a leading couple in the church who was the mother of two, preached the Sunday sermon. She was making the point that we must “Walk the talk.”  Our kids follow what we do more then what we say. To illustrate, she said like telling your kids not to swear and then we swear ourselves when we are mad. She then flashed a huge picture on the screen that probably went viral on instagram of a 5 year old kid at a football game with his dad and they both have war paint on and are angrily flipping off the other team with both fingers in the air! It was a surprising picture and was of course shown for shock effect. Being a young crowd of people raised on pop culture and used to this sort of humor, we all roared with laughter! I couldn’t help feeling this picture may have been appropriate for a kinder-garten staff meeting…but at church???

What if I had had my 5-year-old godchild along that Sunday? I pictured the conversation with her after church…”I know all the adults were laughing…but it’s really not funny or OK to flip off other people when you’re mad. It’s not right and certainly not funny.” I mean, no matter what you said the kid would know there is a double standard. There is the standard for kids and then there is the “behind closed doors” double standard of the adults.

UNHOLY LAUGHTER

I noticed over time that laughing about things that were serious or should be holy was becoming a trend. It was almost becoming the normal ice breaker. One Sunday the guy getting up to do announcements joked about the book on stage….”Maybe it’s the Book Of Life…shall I open it and see if your names are in it?” We all roared with laughter. Another speaker visiting from New Zealand was whining about how the church folk never get tired about hearing about the cross.

“The cross, the cross, the cross.”

He made us sound like kids that want their dad to read their favorite bedtime story for the millionth time. He went on to say…”I wonder if Jesus had died of a machine gun or a rope would we hang that up in the church and keep talking about the machine gun or the rope?” To which we all roared!

My spirit felt sick and depressed. I started to get more and more uneasy for each Sunday that passed.  To be honest, I quit going, and only came the Sundays I had cafe duty. And then I would always offer to be the one that sat out in the cafe during the service.  My joy was really fading fast. I was getting restless and filled with anxiety. I can say it  bothered me day and night.

The second Easter service that I was a part of was a total shock to me. They had a trapeze artist swing from silk scarves as the worship and praise team sang. It had a total circus feeling! I felt a great sense of relief that nobody I had invited had been able to come! I love the circus and I love church. But a combination?

A HILLSONG TAKEOVER?

The total clincher and reason I decided to quit was because the church became a member of the Hillsong family. I was already wondering if a mega church was anything to call home. I noticed that absolutely nobody noticed if I came or not to church. Nobody asked about my walk of faith. If I was looking for a spiritual family with accountability, I could forget it.

I began to think through even the cafe team that I served on. Our team leader was a very earnest Christian and really worked hard and always gave 100%. He was obviously one of the sought-after eligible bachelors in the church. There were a lot of women on the team and when I went to a get-together for the cafe team, I found it very awkward. I felt like we were on some Christian version of “The Bachelor!”  I just wasn’t interested in going to church and events where we were all the same age and going through the same things. Church events felt like free dating events! It made church very stressful!

I ended up not going to the Christmas party for the cafe team. It turned out not one person missed me or asked why I hadn’t come! I realized they really hadn’t missed me. One less player in the competition! I had a real good laugh about it!

At another Christian event I served at, I saw a younger man that looked familiar. I asked him where I knew him from… he said church. But he said he had quit and found a new church, (also a church that had joined the family of Hillsong months before our church did), with a younger crowd because he was not ready to get married yet and he felt everyone at my church was in their mid 20’s to 30’s either getting married or married and

with kids. In other words, they were too old!

We had a good laugh over that! But I thought… wow, how stressful to go to a church where we are all going through the same stuff. Is this really normal? So I began to look at the culture of the church. What was missing? Where were the old people? Why did we laugh with no shame and joke about holy things? Because no grandparents were present to shake their heads? Why did our pastor apologize every time he came with a deep point in his message?

One time he literally told us we could pull out our phone and check the weather if we wanted while he made the next point.  We all roared with laughter! What was so funny? That we were all idiots, victims of pop culture, who couldn’t handle anything deep? Was that seriously funny? I looked around at the audience lounging in our comfortable theater seats and began to feel we were pathetic. I felt if I joined a secular club we would treat the subject more seriously then this crowd treated Jesus their Redeemer. What was this new trend of dragging the Gospel and everything in the Bible into one big familiar joke?

It actually bothered me enough that I addressed the pastor in the foyer on the issue one Sunday. He was surprised and said it was of course an invitation to get people to join… and for people that are not use to the serious side to sit up. Of course he knows when he says “Pull out your phones,” people end up listening up. Basically I lack all sense of humor, apparently. He said he appreciated the feedback.

Sometimes I feel the pastors assume they are preaching to a group of hells angels! Like I stressed to the pastor, he is preaching in the capital of Norway, a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world. We are all university educated and for the one or two punks that walk in…well, they should be challenged to step up….why do we lower the standard?

MY RESEARCH INTO THE HILLSONG TAKEOVER

Well, the church joining Hillsong was the last straw for me. First of all, we idiots that couldn’t handle a deep point unless we can check the weather and Facebook halfway through… we were not asked what we thought. This huge and international decision was completely out of our hands. Only the top leaders discussed this. Then when they were sure it was a good idea, they announced the idea to the top leaders, like all the cell group leaders and other church leaders. They were informed a month before they were going to announce it to the church congregation as a whole. So this was the meeting with the leaders where they were open for feedback. But from what I understood, it wasn’t even voted on at that level. It was of course presented as a great idea with only benefits for us.

I then found out that our pastor had gone to Hillsong Bible school so then all the bricks began to fall into place. As I looked into the Hillsong movement I realized my pastor had gotten much of his inspiration for his church from Hillsong. Our pastors father, the senior and founder of the church, had studied at a big charismatic church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

So after the son came back from Hillsong his father gave him the opportunity to start a church in down town Oslo. They rented a theater right down town Oslo…they are now in their third Theater (Vulkan Arena) since starting. Apparently doing church in a non church type setting like a local theater is a Hillsong trademark. It seams to be a running theme they have.

So in many ways we were all ready following a Hillsong type format which I had been blissfully unaware of until then. One year after our pastor became the senior pastor (when his father retired)… we joined the family of Hillsong. So of course it goes with out saying that now Hillsong pastors frequent their conferences. And we Norwegians go to all the Hillsong conferences here in Scandinavia as there is a Hillsong campus in Stockholm and Copenhagen. London is not too far away either! In fact Norway was the most represented country at Hillsong’s London summer conference 2014 the year we joined their family!

For me it was obvious that if I was going to go a long with our church joining Hillsong then I must look into Hillsong and see what they stand for. I must take personal responsibility to research into Hillsong myself. I’m old enough to know you don’t just trust your leaders word on any thing. So I began to really look into Hillsong and their pastors. All I really knew about Hillsong was that they were famous for their praise and worship music, which I found rather sentimental and shallow. I wasn’t a huge fan. And of course I knew that lots of Norwegians went to Hillsong Bible school. Norwegians have loads of money and with the highest standard of living in the world, who doesn’t feel the Lord calling them to Bible school in exotic Australia…and Sydney at that! I mean isn’t that somewhere near Bondi Beach? From ice cold snow slopes in Norway to warm surf waves…”the call” is not hard to follow!

But okay, it’s all very well to have some vague idea about Hillsong way off on some other continent. But now it was seriously going to invade our church! Hillsong pulls big crowds. In one Norwegian Christian newspaper called “Dagen,” the pastor of Intro, (the first church to join the family of Hillsong), was sharing how impressed he was with how people stood in line to get into Hillsong Church. God must be blessing it!

THE “FRUIT” CARD

Mega churches seem to love that verse about the fruit, “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” They seem to interpret fruit to be numbers. So no matter what concern you may have with a mega church they shoot you down with arrows about “the fruit”. They exclaim, “Look at the numbers!  God is obviously blessing it!  So many can’t be wrong. They are reaching the nations!”

Well, Hitler and some other famous dictators had fans and numbers and were “reaching the nations” with their message. People like rock stars pull crowds as well. I fail to see how this is such a great defense. It acts more like a sheepskin to hide their dishonesty.

Because when you look at the church on a micro level:

1.) Nobody noticed if I came to church or not, not even to the events for my own ministry team! And to be honest, I didn’t either notice if others came or not. One didn’t get to know people well enough to ask why they hadn’t come or was  everything okay in their life or simply last week!!! Norwegians are reserved to begin with so it takes forever to get to know them anyway and in a mega church they really can hide away!

2.) All the joking about Holy things seriously made me feel unwell. It depressed and stressed me.

3.) We were all organs in a great machine called “the church” But over time I began to feel that my effort on the cafe team didn’t mean that much to anyone. People had to pay for the  cakes and that bothered me how things cost. Like even the Christmas dinner people had to pay for. I did not get a church family feeling at all. When it all had to be so fancy and impressive. . .it all cost. Over time the disillusionment grew.

4.) To feel a part of the church one was meant to go to the cell group they assigned to you so you could “connect” with people. For me it just felt rather artificial and those five women or so at the cell group are not really people one met at church on Sunday anyway. It just was not filling the gap of making church feel like home. . .my spiritual family.

I noticed that what the church put time and money and effort into was the show and performance and all the creative stuff.  Of course it cost a lot and took a lot of time… but gave me nothing.

THE HILLSONG CLONE AND DRONE?

The only thing I had left in that church was the pastors sermons which I still really appreciated. But mega pastors are busy people and when he was out of town he handed the pulpit over to the wife of the leading couple and I wasn’t sure if according to the biblical standard I agreed with women preachers. If she wasn’t speaking it was the other pastor of our other campus or a visiting pastor or of course the Hillsong pastors that got their turn in the pulpit. I didn’t always feel that they came with anything deep and felt more and more that Hillsong was not a deepening influence. I began to compare our church with Hillsong and realized we were really saying the same stuff. Our conferences looked a lot like they followed the Hillsong type blueprint. So  it seemed to be that if one was a part of the family of Hillsong we really looked to them for inspiration. I found the Hillsong vision for 2015 less then inspiring. With their Christian version of a manifesto and their dangerous declaration I was truly alarmed.

Suffice it to say when I decided to leave the church was when they joined the Hillsong Family in the spring of 2014.

I debated for a long time in my heart and mind whether I would write to the pastor or not. I prayed as well and it turned around in my mind for about 5 or 6 months. But finally I did write him. I felt it was cowardly to leave without a note. I really felt I must give some feedback as well.

I was rather amused by my cafe team leaders response to my departure. When I told him for the past few months I had only been coming when I had cafe duty he had to admit he had noticed that; although he had at no point questioned or confronted me on that.

CONCLUSION

I had not heard one person even breathe that they questioned or opposed the church joining Hillsong. So I was left to conclude that I was alone in that criticism. In mega churches it is very important to always be positive and supportive of the leaders and their choice of focus and direction for the church. They say they are open for feedback and thoughts and ideas but I have never found the environment they cultivate conducive to that. They are just pushing polite phrases around. You either get on the same page or leave.

The cafe leader made the classic response that I should stick it out and rather be an influence and not just throw down my toys in the sand box and stomp off! Like how do we solve anything in the world if we leave the moment we don’t agree! I mean I get the argumentation and its very sweet to be so cliche and idealistic but I’m not so naive as to think I could have any influence. I may be blue eyed but I’m realistic. Any weight I would come with would be seen as fighting progress… standing on the wrong side of history. What is there to discus when your church has joined a huge mega church on the other side of the globe? It all gets so abstract.

What I don’t like with this mega church name branding is that the church loses it’s soul and original stamp of God on it. Instead of being “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,  a holy nation, a peculiar people” that God has called out… we end up becoming name brand Christians where we all talk the same language and we don’t call sin out. We just have conversations about it. We rock out every Sunday and push the older people aside in a desperate attempt to be “relevant” to the younger people. So we take our marching orders from pop culture, whatever the next “relevant” thing is to the young people. Because the next “relevant” thing is simply branded, “A new and fresh move of God”.

If you want to join the old people on the back pew putting the brakes on… you’ll be left out in the cold.

I really get this feeling they just tack the label “Jesus” to their hip life style, their humor, their clubbing party life, their music and entertainment style of it all got to be fast, easy, funny and attractive.

Once in a while they will let a heavy sett girl sing with the praise band or a nerd bass player just to convince us that they are NOT like the world where it’s all about the image. But we are hardly convinced!

Our christian church life becomes this larger than life machine that we all help to move around because we all want to be part of something great for God. We want to part of something successful and big, where God is really moving and obviously blessing. I mean, look at the numbers they pull in!

Oh well, numbers or not, progress or no, I still knew I could not keep growing in this environment. Of course I never got a response from the pastor, which just further proved the point. Why does anyone go to a mega-church where they will never be able to talk to the pastor? The pastor and leaders have their own inner circle. Very few others dare or see the point of even attempting to make contact with them.

Just thinking through that made me realize I was leaving the concept of mega-church never to return again.  Who wants to be so far removed from your pastor and leaders at church, where you can go for fifty years and never get to know them?  What is the big deal with a big, successful church?  I realized it is the age-old, “Success sells itself.”  We go to the shop where we see a lot of people.  We want to go to the school that is popular and so on.  But is church really meant to follow the world’s model?

Mega-churches try to present Jesus like a super-star, like we would love Him if we got a chance to know Him.  So they beg the chance to present the Gospel in a new and fresh way at their church.  Like give them a chance, and you will love being a Christian. There is no talk of “You will be hated for my sake.”  Persecuted, in fact.  Why not?  Because people love not the truth. God is not in all their thoughts. Jesus Christ was despised and rejected of men.  I don’t see that the Apostles experienced anything else.

I got so nervous in the mega-church because I felt it was not preparing me for the tough reality of what it means to take up our cross and follow Him, to crucify the flesh.

We Millennium Kids have a short attention span.  We love to church-shop and church-hop and to be honest, it is a young people’s dating possibility. If there is nobody interesting at your church, you check out other churches during their services.

Let’s be perfectly honest, Millennium Kids!  Most Christian youth in Oslo at some point end up visiting, for example, Filadelfia Church, another mega-church. Because they are in the capital, they get to choose from the best singers, musicians and speakers.  I had a couple favorite speakers. You know, the kind that make you cry and you go home with this great point to chew on for the next week. The service is very aesthetically pleasing and much less rocked-out. But again, in a huge mega-church, nobody knows if you come or go. There are a hundred and fifty volunteer staff around ever service. It’s always flawless.

So as I was pondering my journey out of the mega church and why I would not end up at this church either… I decided to have a look at their networking. Turns out Bill Hybel has been coming over for the past 10 years for conferences on church growth. They have also hosted Brian and Bobbie Houston as guest speakers for conferences.

Their bible school students have been on trips to the US to visit the L.A. Hillsong church and they even visited Bethel in Redding California! When I think Bethel CA I think   “Christian Harry Potter school of the super natural”. I’ve never heard of a church more occupied with carnal miracles then them, promoting nonsense like ‘Glory clouds’ and ‘gold dust’ and angels that they conjure up who have been sleeping (not to mention the ‘soaking’ or ‘gravesucking’ at the tombs of dead people to receive a spiritual blessing).

I found it was alarming the more I looked into who these mega-churches network with. The only difference was that Filadelfia was not a member of Hillsong Family. That is because they are an old, well established church with their own identity. But as you look into all these mega-churches you realize they network on an international scale.

People in Australia and America probably don’t think about the rest of the world because their countries are so big. But these mega pastors reach out on an international scale and trust me, we small mega churches in Europe are plugged into the big mega-church grid. So there is no getting away. You have to get out. Give up all the prestige and find a small church. A small boring church without an expensive hyped up kids program. A small church where normal people lead us in congregational singing. As you begin to hear the sound of your voice again…it’s like you get your own feelings back. It’s like a detox program because all your senses calm down. There is no worshipful atmosphere that gets you all pumped up and excited about God and than lulls you into a receptive mood for the sermon. It reminds me that my pastor used to joke about how the piano player should come up toward the end of the sermon to play softly and help him sound more spiritual! I really fail to see what is so funny. I guess I have no sense of humor.

Anyway I am not trying to come with some recipe on how church needs to be. I just know how I don’t want it to be. I don’t like being played with, internally manipulated. I don’t like all my senses on edge, sitting at the edge of my seat wondering what’s coming next? Wondering if I will end up laughing at a joke that really isn’t funny the moment I think twice about it.

I’m not either trying to say that “boring” equals spiritual and holy. Of course our life and walk and relationship with God is exciting and a challenging story and we should express that! But then we need the space and time to express ourselves.

We need to meet in smaller groups and actually share our testimonies. We need to be able to talk with our leaders. The church stage should not be way up there for the spiritual elite of the church, the leaders and their international friends. I’m not saying either that conferences are not a great idea and very helpful. But weekly church life should have a more organic feel to it. It’s like we all prefer tomatoes grown locally then shipped from another side of the globe. I feel the same with the spiritual food.

I want to hear home grown faith and up close and personal. This high profile stage that the mega church sets is so out of touch with me and my daily struggles as a waitress in a big hotel.

If I want a fancy entertainment show I can pay for that….but church is meant to be about meeting brothers and sisters in Christ. “Provoking one another to love and  good works” “Admonishing one another” “Praying with out ceasing” Taking the beam out of our own eye before we pick at the splinter in other people’s eye! It’s that week by week growing in the faith. Getting past the milk stage and really growing!

I am so done with the mega church. It is not because I had some really bad experience and so I am just ranting and raving out of bitter disappointment. All I can say is that I was on my way out of the mega-church anyway and my church that joined the Hillsong movement simply sped up my whole process of “To be or not to be in a mega-church, that is the question” dilemma.

The End.

Written in Enebakk, Norway
March 18, 2015

George Aghajanian Responds To The Steve West Media Saga

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Quite a while ago, we looked at Steve West, and the Australian media, expose the appalling systematic and problematic behaviour found in Hillsong and its leadership.

The Steve West & Hillsong Saga (Part 1)
The Steve West & Hillsong Saga (Part 2)
The Steve West & Hillsong Saga (Part 3)
The Steve West & Hillsong Saga (Part 4)
When Steve West Went To The Media

What came out of this media saga was Brian Houston’s personal response:

Brian Houston Responds To The Steve West Media Saga

While this response was for his church members and external audiences, Brian Houston’s friend George Aghajanian also responded to the media by writing a letter specifically to Hillsong members.

There were a few sections in the letter below that caught our eye which we will respond to in future articles (some in relation to the Royal Commission) . However, this got Steve West’s attention:

“If you have any questions or concerns, I would encourage you to speak to our leadership or pastoral team. Our website contains further information on our church governance policies and you can always speak directly to me or my team.”

Steve West exposed the facade of George Aghajanian and the “Elders and Board of Hillsong Church”.

I noted dryly that George said in the letter that Hillsong doesn’t refuse to meet up with people who want to see the books.

That was never my allegation.

I met up with George, yes.

But he showed me NOTHING.

Source: Steve West (Emblazoned), Hillsong’s Snailing Love for Brian Houston, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/hillsongs-snailing-love-for-brian-houston/#comment-12447, Published 9/08/2010 AT 10:47 PM. (Accessed 15/05/2015.)

The point is, no one can trust Hillsong’s leaders when they resort to postmodern obfuscation and word games. That is, unless you have been conditioned by this type of trickery you are about to read.

Signposts02 writes,

Now I was emailed by an anonymous person what George Aghajanian was doing in Hillsong. He is the Hillsong general manager and he has snail-mailed this letter during the week about the Sunday Telegraph article.

hs-ga1 hillsong letter lies bully

hs-ga1 hillsong letter lies bully 2

Source: S&P, Hillsong’s Snailing Love for Brian Houston, Signposts02, https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/hillsongs-snailing-love-for-brian-houston/, Published 09/08/2010. (Accessed 15/05/2015.)

Hillsong leader caught practicing pagan idolatry?

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Christine Caine put up this Instagram picture just a few days ago….

“Oh yes, I did lay my own hands on @joycemeyer bible & teaching notes & prayed for an impartation of that teaching anointing & revelation. It was a privilege & honor to shadow her this past week. Far more is “caught” than is ever “taught” in life!”

proof_Instagram-PastrixPortion_13-05-2015

Faith is taught, not caught

Let’s test Christine Caine’s “impartation” against the word of God.

“Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:19 

In Acts 8, Simon the Sorcerer sees something spiritual happen through the works of the Apostles and even offered to pay for the ability to pass on the Spirit to others.

We are not suggesting that Christine Caine offered payment for this “impartation” but she seems to forget it is only Christ, the ultimate giver of every spiritual gift through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who determines who receives the various gifts; and nowhere does scripture suggest these gifts are received through laying hands on a Bible.

In response to Caine’s behaviour, one observer stated “I believe that opening up the Bible and reading it will have a far greater blessing because it will teach you to run from false teachers like her (Joyce Meyer).”

Our response?

“Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” Romans 10:17

God’s “teaching” and “revelation” comes to us by hearing the Word of God. We need to run from the other false teacher, Christine Caine.

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13

NOTE: SCREEN GRAB WAS TAKEN ON THE 13/05/2015.

Proof that Hillsong Conference is not listening to what God says – only to what leaders are imagining.

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HILLSONG PUBLICLY LYING IN THEIR CAMPAIGNS.

We shouldn’t be the only group identifying that Hillsong is simply lying to Christians all around the world.

SpeakGod

You may have noticed that we are ridiculing a certain so-called “Christian” conference that asserts in its advertising campaign that they are listening to God. Sadly, when you consider where Hillsong got the ‘inspiration’ for their latest Hillsong advertising campaign, you come to a very different conclusion that they are listening to God at all.

If their inspiration was not from God then where did it come from? The two options are human imagination or demonic deception. While human beings don’t need help to lie, lying is associated with Satan. God labels Satan a liar and acknowledges those who do, are of his nature.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

“If you are the Son of God,” [Satan] said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’c
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matt 4:6-7

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus, John 8:44

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

We are not labeling Christians who go to Hillsong Conference as liars. However, we are holding the Hillsong leadership accountable for using deception in regards to their latest Hillsong Conference 2015 campaign.

These campaigns are very well marketed to deceive people with maximum impact. While we do believe that there is ethical marketing, Hillsong throws ethics and integrity out the door to deliberately ‘bamboozle’ people’s intellect and emotions. They manipulate people into believing that God’s blessing is on Hillsong to the point where it is appears they are the only ‘true’ church.

In this campaign, they want people to feel as though they are part of something “prophetic”. The problem is they are blatantly lying about God’s Word. (Just a reminder before reading, Samuel was a famous prophet in the Old Testamant.)

Hillsong writes,

Source: Hillsong Conference Sydney 2015, Hillsong, http://hillsong.com/conference/content/events/sydney-2015#.VUtdavmqqko, Accessed 07/05/2015.

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They have an advertisment that is pretending to say something that God never said. How is that even operating with Christian integrity?

We ask these questions:

1. If this text is about Samuel saying “Speak, for your servant is listening”, then why is Hillsong deliberately perverting God’s Word so people cannot accept what God is saying at face value and making it about their church or their conference?

2. How can a people claim to be prophetic and “listening” when the leaders misapply the Word of God to mean something completely different and pass it off as “God said”?

3. Why did they take the liberty to badly rewrite God’s Word in an ad campaign?

The devil, in scripture, demonstrates how easy it is to twist the simple words of God to deceive man. His ministers follow in his fallen footsteps too quickly.

SpeakListenDeny

If you think we are being judgmental with Hillsong on this issue, how much more offended should you feel when you see them twist God’s Word to say something it doesn’t? We will leave you with the chapter itself so you can see just how wrong they were in doing what they did.

The LORD Calls Samuel

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,a and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”

And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for theLORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Brian Houston: “I am excited about interviewing Mark and his wife”….

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Before reading the article below – we would argue that Hillsong doesn’t invite doctrinally sound “pastors and Christian leaders” to speak at their annual conferences.

The invitations Hillsong extends to those they want as keynote speakers, are usually based on “popularity”,  not on a biblical desire to mature the body of Christ. We should be asking the question – why do the majority of their keynote speakers fall into the category of false teachers?  These are not false accusations as some may think. We recommend our readers do their own due diligence,  please don’t just take our word for it. Much of the evidence for our claims are readily available out there on the web, that same evidence well-researched by mature theologians from both the Reformed and Charismatic camps. For instance:

1. TD Jakes: a Prosperity and Word of Faith heretic who denies the trinity.
2. Rick Warren: a Seeker Sensitive pastor and notorious bible twister who teaches anything to please anyone.
3. Joseph Prince: a Prosperity and Word of Faith heretic, and antinomian.
4. Joyce Meyer: a Prosperity and extreme Word of Faith heretic and pastrix.
5. Beth Moore: a notorious bible twister and pastrix.
6. Joel Osteen: is a New Age, Prosperity and Word of Faith heretic.
7. Jentezin Franklin is a notorious bible twister, Prosperity and Word of Faith heretic.
8. Craig Groeschel whose syncretism sees him aligning with the Word of Faith heretics already listed above.

Hillsong Conference is an event that boosts the popularity of frauds while at the same time tearing at the essentials of the orthodox Christian faith.

Warren Throckmorton writes,

Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Issues Statement On Mark Driscoll at the Hillsong 2015 Conference

I just received this information from Mark DeMoss via email:

Statement by Brian Houston on Mark Driscoll at Hillsong 2015 Conference

March 2015

For years, Hillsong has invited pastors and Christian leaders from around the world to speak at our annual conferences in Sydney, Australia and London, England. Well in advance of his resignation as senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, we invited Mark Driscoll to be one of our speakers this summer. Rather than having Mark preach or teach, I am excited about interviewing Mark and his wife, Grace from our main platform during our Hillsong Conference 2015.

I am looking forward to having this opportunity to speak openly with the Driscolls about life and ministry, as well as recent events and lessons they’ve learned through personal and ministry trials during the past year. My aim is to have an in-depth conversation that gives insight into their hearts.

Mark has been candid about mistakes he has made, and if we can, through our conference, help others through his life experiences, we think that will prove valuable.

This exclusive statement comes from Brian Houston in response to my post last week noting that Mark Driscoll was slated to speak at the conferences. Instead of having a speaking position, he will be interviewed by Houston.

The description of Driscoll on the conference websites (Sydney, Europe) has not changed to reflect this news or the dissolution of Mars Hill Church.  The description lists him as “founding pastor” rather than co-founder of the former Mars Hill Church.

Discuss.

Source: Warren Throckmorton, Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Issues Statement On Mark Driscoll at the Hillsong 2015 Conference, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/12/hillsong-founder-brian-houston-issues-statement-about-mark-driscoll-at-the-hillsong-2015-conference/, Published 12/03/2015. (Accessed 04/05/2015.)

Bobbie & Brian Houston desecrating Good Friday (updated).

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Chris Rosebrough from Fighting for the Faith has recently reviewed Hillsong’s disgraceful and blasphemous Good Friday service.

“When the secular media critiques a pastor or church movement like Hillsong and stuff like that, they have limited ability to do this and what I mean by limited, is that they’re not theologians, they’re not dealing with an audience that understands doctrine and theology. But the thing they do understand is greed. And so the way they portrayed Hillsong is as just this money-grubbing machine and it’s all about the giving. And that probably is the case. The issue is that, you know, I look at this and it’s like that’s just a symptom, the root is the bad doctrine and theology. And so we’ll listen to Bobbie Houston from their Good Friday service, we’ll listen to her as she addresses the area of giving.” Chris Rosebrough

We would like to give special mention again to the mind of Bobbie Houston who had the audacity to twist this gospel scripture to elevate financial giving above the salvation of Jesus Christ:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:17-8

“The truth is when you actually think about it, the message of giving in like manner is also foolishness to those who are perishing but to us is the power of God.” – Bobbie Houston, Good Friday service, 2015.

Chris Rosebrough does another outstanding sermon review exposing how Brian Houston refuses to proclaim the Christian faith and the message of Christ and him crucified accurately.

05CWCPortrait_Brian Houston

This is a must listen.

Creflo’s 65 Million Dollar Theological Tantrum

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• Creflo’s 65 Million Dollar Theological Tantrum
• John Hagee Warns of Imminent World Economic Crash
• Bobbie Houston Says Giving Is Our Power
• Patricia King Discusses Divine Wealth
• Sermon Review: Silent Saturday by Brian Houston

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2015/04/creflos-65-million-dollar-theological-tantrum.html, Published 23/04/2015. (Accessed 24/04/2015.)

SMH reports on Hillsong’s “gorilla warfare” against ACA.

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God’s Word says the following about false teachers,

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” Jude 1:10

Hillsong sledge

Do you want to know what Christian love looks like at Hillsong Church? Spiritual leader/CEO of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston was not impressed as to how he was represented in A Current Affair’s recent report.

Hillsong: The multi-million dollar “crazy cult”
Which “tabloid trash” do you believe?
Brian Houston in damage control… again… and again…and again.
“Tabloid trash” exposing Hillsong of lying?

It looks as though secular media are now reporting on the conduct of Hillsong’s spiritual leader.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports,

A Current Affair versus Hillsong: the coffee challenge

It was a Goliath and Goliath story. Channel Nine’s nightly current affairs program versus Australia’s best known mega-church, head to head, in the Twitter arena.

A Current Affair last week aired a 16-minute special report detailing explosive revelations that the controversial Hillsong Church made a lot of money but, like every other church in Australia, paid no tax.

Hillsong was making a concert movie set to rake in millions of dollars tax free. Parishioners regularly gave up to 10 per cent of their income in a practice known as tithing. The church was making it so easy to collect tax free dollars through tithing that it was even developing a giving app.

ACA said the church had not responded to requests for comment, a claim denied by Hillsong in a statement the next day that called the segment “tabloid trash”.

A day after that, Hillsong founder Brian Houston laid down a boldfaced challenge to ACA reporter Ben McCormack.

@benmccormack9 Hey.. How about coming to have a coffee with me one day? You got the guts to do that? Just you and me.

The proposed coffee date sounded more like the pastoral equivalent of  “Do you wanna take this outside?”

McCormack wasn’t backing down.

@benmccormack9 Hey.. How about coming to have a coffee with me one day? You got the guts to do that? Just you and me.

@BrianCHouston love to meet. Why not do an interview on camera & answer some questions too? You got the guts to do that?

Houston shot back:

@BrianCHouston love to meet. Why not do an interview on camera & answer some questions too? You got the guts to do that?

@BenMcCormack9 The Q’s are not the issue. It’s your skewered editing & underhanded tactics that are the problem. So no..!

McCormack repeated his offer of an interview before Houston repeated his mano-e-mano cappuccino challenge. McCormack suggested that, like Hillsong followers, the ACA team “lived to give”.

A bitter stalemate ensued.

On Monday, not content with having had the last word only once, McCormack tweeted:

@BenMcCormack9 well my offer of a coffee with no hidden recording or cameras stands. It’s not as though ACA is known for its credibility!!

@BrianCHouston “credibility”?? Hillsong issuing false hysterical misleading press statements. It’s you with the credibility problem Brian.

Houston may be frantically trying to come up with his own put-down. But maybe he has taken another tack to win this stoush.

As he tweeted the day before it began:

Love is a very compelling argument!!

Source: By Patrick Begley, Sydney Morning Herald, A Current Affair versus Hillsong: the coffee challenge, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/a-current-affair-versus-hillsong-the-coffee-challenge-20150427-1muarj.html, Published 27/04/2015. (Accessed 27/04/2015.)

LieSledgeLead live love lead brian houston hillsong

Does Brian Houston’s response to the ACA report, represent the actions of a godly shepherd or are we seeing the responses exposing the behaviour of a false teacher.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 

No longer on the wall: Pastor Philip Powell.

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“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest..” Isaiah 62:6 

Churchwatcher - Philip Powell

We are deeply saddened to inform our readers that Pastor Philip Powell of Christian Witness Ministries has gone to be with his beloved Father in Heaven. He was one of the few faithful Pentecostal ministers we know, who dared stand against the onslaught of false teaching overwhelming Australian and New Zealand Christanity. May his work be remembered, cherished and used as a strong warning against the rising corruption coming against the body of Christ.

From Our Hearts at ChurchWatch

Philip Powell has served the body of Christ so faithfully throughout his life. He was a man who walked in exceptional integrity and was fueled by God’s Spirit and Truth, to seeing the Word of God go forth and to see people saved and transformed by the power of God. He was truly a teacher of the Truth; a shepherd for the defenseless, and God’s General in fighting against immorality, corruption and injustice in the Australian and New Zealand churches.

The scripture that comes to mind of Philip Powell is Jeremiah 20:9:

“If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

While pastors fell for the temptation to give assurances of peace when there was no peace decades earlier, Powell refused to back down from his biblical duty as a pastor and shepherd.

He had an unbridled fire in his bones that refused to die. It is inspiring to know that Philip Powell lived his life with conviction and strove to be a faithful witness and servant to the life of Jesus Christ.

In the past this pentecostal title of ‘General’ has been bestowed upon frauds. But we want to bestow the original ‘God’s General’ title on Philip Powell because a pastor such as this brought honour to traditional Pentecostal and AOG teachings and values. He fought to defend “the least of these”, and if it was not for his work, one has to wonder if Hillsong, the Australian AOG and the New Zealand AOG would have gotten away with covering up the scandal of pedophilia in their ranks for so long.

Amazingly, Powell fought his opponents with integrity intact. So much so, that corrupt ministers would fear him. He fought against the wicked teachings of men with God’s Truth and he has done an exceptional job bringing men with integrity together to fight against the many evils found in the church today.

He was not a man to compromise, unlike many Pentecostal and AOG ministers today. Instead, he was stubborn to the end and never backed down defending the truth, in light of God’s Word.

To serve, to know, and to work with Philip Powell has been a privilege for us.

It is our prayer that the Australian, New Zealand and the global church recognise the work of this tireless fighter and heed the biblical warning of the times we live in.

Our prayers are with you Kathleen in this time. You married an outstanding man who will be remembered around the world for his courageous work. May the life of your husband inspire other husbands and fathers to step up to the plate to defend and lay their life down for God’s flock.

R.I.P Philip Powell - A defender of the faith and a churchwatcher to be remembered.

R.I.P Philip Powell – A defender of the faith and a churchwatcher to be remembered.

This email was released from Christian Witness Ministries.

Christian Witness Ministries
Contending Earnestly for the Faith

An email received Sunday 26th April 2015 at 12:13pm from Brother Jeff Pitman.

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters

Greetings in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is with blessed Hope I write this morning, to let you know that your friend and fellow pastor, Philip Lewis Powell has escaped his tent and has met with His Saviour over on the other Shore.

At 3:42am Brisbane Australia, this Lord’s Day, Sunday the 26th of April 2015, the call was given and Philip answered.

I know each of you held a place in Philip’s heart, as you worked with him as fellow Bond Slaves and errand boys, to bring Glory to God in the name of Jesus.

On Behalf of Kathleen and the Family (Powell and Pitman), Thank you for your continued prayer, friendship and labour in the Gospel.

The CWM family here and abroad, by God’s Grace, will continue to keep our hand on the plough, and not look back, until we all can be in the presence of our Saviour.

I look forward to hearing from you, as you are able, and will keep you updated on the Funeral arrangements here in Brisbane.

Please feel free to publicise this news as you see fit.

Every Blessing in Christ!

Jeff Pitman
(pastor)

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