Ady, Benjamin Ady, Brian Houston, cult, Driscoll, Hillsong, hillsong conference, Hillsong Conference 2015, houston, Mark Driscoll
Hillsong prides itself in being “relevant.” Brian Houston insists that the church must change it’s methods, or die. Yet it is because of this very reason that there is no accountability for “Pastors” in these institutions. After Brian Houston’s deceitful stunt by misleading people into believing he uninvited Driscoll to speak only to have him speak in a prerecorded interview at Hillsong Conference 2015, many believers and non-believers alike feel they can’t trust these so-called “religious leaders.”
The reason why we do give non-believing voices on this site is because so few Christians are standing up to this corrupt new religion that masquerades itself as Christianity. When you read this piece below by Benjamin Ady, please note how this way of doing “new church” is actually no church at all. Ady’s observations about Houston are spot on.
My experience of being deceived by Australia’s most powerful celebrity pastor
This is a guest post from my friend Benjamin Ady. Benjamin lives in Australia. He is an atheist. He is an honest, caring and extremely intelligent guy. He also spearheaded the campaign to remove Mark Driscoll from the Hillsong Conference, which is something concerned Christians should have done. The campaign worked, that is, until the senior pastor of Hillsong reneged on his promise, and interviewed Driscoll anyway. I asked Benjamin to tell the story.
My name is Benjamin Ady. I lived in Seattle Washington from the age of 13, in 1987, almost continuously until late 2009, when I and my small family moved to Melbourne, Australia. I grew up as part of a very small, very sectarian Christian church which was part of a large, loose network of such churches in the United States call the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches–known to survivors of such churches as IFB. I grew up inundated and surrounded by the Christian Scriptures, which were of great import to my small community, and memorised large sections of the New Testament and some from the Old Testament. I realised years later, when I got a slightly wider view of the world, that I’d been given a really delicious educational gift, as the entire literature and history of the US/Anglo culture is infused with the stories of the Old and New Testaments, and I recognise every single allusion.
In 2007/2008, I gradually completed a transition/deconversion out of Christianity. I had been aware of this deconversion process for a while, and one day while in conversation with my good friend Nathalie, I realised I no longer believed Jesus rose from the dead, and that as such, I could really no longer in any sense call myself a Christian. (I acknowledge here that there are of course very small communities of people within worldwide Christianity who do call themselves Christians and yet don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, and I don’t have any argument with or judgement against these people.) For me, the transition out of Christianity correlated with a much larger internal transition from the long term personal experience of fairly high levels of anxiety and depression and a sense of worthlessness and purposelessness toward my experience now, which is one of rather an enormous amount of joy and a much greater skill in loving myself and other people.
Now that I’ve given a tiny bit of context–on to the story! Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, I and a number of both Christian and not-Christian friends of mine in Seattle were keeping our eyes on a growingly successful megachurch pastor in Seattle–Mark Driscoll. Mark’s church, Mars Hill, grew to 15,000 members across more than a dozen campuses mostly in Seattle by 2013/2014. This all happened in the 2nd least churched city in the United States. As my friend Jim Henderson points out in his book “Question Mark: Why the church Welcomes Bullies and How to Stop It”, Mark was almost entirely attracting young people who had a lot of desire for certainty and black/whiteness in a culture and more specifically in a city that was increasingly embracing post-modernism and rather a gigantic palette of shades of gray. The problem was that as young people, these folks mostly lacked the life-experience to recognise in Mark Driscoll an abusive, violent bully–something which was exceedingly and increasingly obvious to those of us with a bit more life experience.
In 2014, much of Mark Driscoll’s long term pattern of terrible, abusive behaviour became, through a series of events, much much more public. Among the scores of former staff members and thousands of former church members who had been treated really hideously, a brave and amazing group of folks emerged who decided that they were done with seeing ever more young people who were abused and driven right out of Christianity and would probably never return. In 2014 these folks finally gained enough of a voice and enough exposure that by the end of 2014, Mars Hill Church literally disintegrated and ceased to exist as an entity. An internal group of pastors were tasked with investigating formal charges which were brought against Mr. Driscoll, and just before the results of the their investigation could be made public, Mark Driscoll “audibly heard the voice of God” telling him to resign. The results of that investigation were suppressed (and still haven’t been made public) by a tiny group of wealthy powerful men whom Mark Driscoll had connived to leave holding all the power in this gigantic, multi-million dollar organisation.
Almost immediately after the disintegration of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll began his clearly well planned comeback. Ignoring the trauma and pleas of his thousands of victims, a number of powerful mega-church pastors throughout the US began inviting Driscoll to speak at their churches. He and they worked together to spin a narrative in which Driscoll himself was the victim, and all those people he had abused were themselves the abusers, refusing to forgive him and therefore obviously not genuine followers of Jesus. Mega-church pastors even broke down in tears as they empathised with the terrible way this multi-millionaire former mega-church pastor had so narrowly escaped the results of the investigation by his own church’s pastors via God audibly speaking to him telling him to resign.
The crown jewel of Mark Driscoll’s comeback tour was an appearance at the conference of the most powerful and popular church in Australia–Hillsong. It’s widely known in Australia that Hillsong has inroads to the highest level of both NSW state government and the federal Australian government, with the prime minister and other highly placed politicians having attended and spoken at their annual conference in years past. In fact, so great is their power that when the senior lawyer for the Royal Commission into Institutional child sexual abuse recommended last year that their senior pastor, Brian Houston, be investigated by the NSW police for breaking the law in failing to report his pedophile father, HIllsong’s founding pastor Frank Houston, to the police, he was utterly ignored. It’s very convenient for Hillsong and Brian Houston that the NSW police commissioner is a friend of the Houston family who attended Frank Houston’s funeral, during which Frank was lionised, and during which Frank’s history of sexually abusing minors in the church was described as “some big mistakes”.
Not only is Hillsong powerful in Australia–they’re also gigantic in the United States, where hundreds of thousand of churches and scores of millions of Christians sing and buy Hillsong’s enormously popular praise and worship music. Long before moving to Australia myself, I had heard of Hillsong because I myself, and the super-conservative, fundamentalist church I grew up in, loved their worship music and used it regularly during worship services. Given all this–one can easily see why an appearance at Hillsong’s annual conference was all Mark Driscoll could have imagined in his sweetest dreams, as part of his comeback tour. This appearance would grant him a level of kudos, glory, and religious power-currency unavailable almost anywhere else on the planet. It would be akin to a disgraced band being invited to open for U2 or Taylor Swift.
As a person from Seattle now living in Australia, and with personal friends who had been terribly abused and hurt by Mark Driscoll, I felt very unhappy about Driscoll’s appearance at Hillsong Conference here in Australia. It was almost as if this toxic ex-pastor, having been basically kicked out of Seattle, was now following me with his toxic, abusive Christianity all the way down here to Australia. So I decided to see if I couldn’t get his appearance cancelled. Honestly, I thought chances were slim to zilch. I’m just a regular working fellow with a middling income and hardly any wealth, and putting myself up against the gigantic power structure and vast wealth of Hillsong, coupled with the wealth, power, and still-in-some-circles popularity of Mark Driscoll seemed fairly futile. Nevertheless, I decided to give it my best go.
In the 8-10 weeks before the HIllsong Conference in Sydney in late June this year, I devoted about 100 hours and about $500, along with all the creativity and networking I could muster, towards this end. I ended up connecting with a number of Hillsong insiders and outsiders who seemed to be very much on board with the idea of getting Driscoll’s appearance cancelled. Finally, much to my surprise, delight, and amazement, just a few weeks before the conference, a media firestorm erupted. Suddenly, there were gigantic, powerful groups jumping in on my side, and again, amazingly, much to my enormous surprise and delight, and under enormous pressure from pro-women groups and powerful media figures, as well as, no doubt, a number of highly placed people including leaders within his own church, Brian Houston acquiesced to our request and agreed to cancel Driscoll’s appearance at the conference. His decision to cancel Driscoll’s appearance was widely reported in newspapers in both Australia, the United States, and the UK.
As you can imagine, Driscoll’s many victims in Seattle were amazed and delighted, as were the many pro-women Hillsong Insiders and Outsiders who had joined our campaign. Just as his appearance at Hillsong Conference was the crown jewel in Driscoll’s comeback plan, his rejection from that same conference represented a gigantic speed bump in his comeback. Given Hillsong’s vast popularity in the United States, their cancellation of his appearance would certainly very much mute plans for his appearance at even more megachurches in the US in the future. We were actually genuinely delighted for Driscoll himself, as we hoped that the cancellation of his appearance would provide a space and opportunity for him to more fully appreciate and understand the breadth and depth of his abusive behaviour and to move towards genuine change and genuine apologies to and reconciliation with his victims, many of whom he has ongoingly refused to interact with despite their ongoing attempts to reach out to him over the years.
In the context of all of the above, you can imagine my shock upon hearing, on the 3rd day of my annual vacation time with my little family, that Brian Houston had actually decided to go ahead with an interview with Mr. Driscoll at Hillsong Conference anyway. It turns out in the end he had actively deceived me and the many other Australians who had jumped on board to pressure him to cancel Driscoll’s appearance, as well as the media, with a carefully worded announcement which we all understood to mean that Driscoll’s appearance was being cancelled, whereas technically reading the letter of the announcement Houston had left open a loophole, as it were, by means of which he could still record an interview with Driscoll and then broadcast it at the conference without having technically “lied”.
After having had a few days to get over my initial shock, and even to notice and gently laugh at myself for a certain amount of judgement towards Houston’s deception, I have reached the point where I can look at it slightly more dispassionately and ask with curiosity “Hmmmm. I wonder why he did that?”
Of course ultimately such a question can only be answered by Houston himself. But I have some thoughts on it. My initial conjecture involves cowardice. He wanted to do the interview, but didn’t want to have to face and deal with the public outrage–so he just lied. This seems quite a plausible explanation to me.
However, I don’t think it might be the whole story. This because having developed a few channels with Hillsong Insiders, I’ve heard another explanation. I’ve heard that Houston has communicated to high-level Hillsong insiders that the reasons revolve around a framework of insiders and outsiders. What I’ve heard is that Brian has expressed that if it had been church insiders who had run the campaign against Driscoll’s appearance, he would have been more open to actually cancelling Driscoll’s appearance. But instead, because the bulk of the pressure was brought by folks who were obviously church-outsiders, Houston felt that A. He didn’t really have to listen to a word we said and B. It was totally okay to intentionally deceive us.
Obviously I have no idea whether this latter explanation is true or not. But it strikes me as even more plausible than my first conjecture. It makes enormous sense to me. Houston is operating the largest, most powerful, and most successful church in a nation mostly composed of church outsiders–a nation where much more so than in the US most people look down a bit at the church and Christianity. It’s like the unchurchiness of Seattle, which is already very unusual for the United States, multiplied by 100 and made nationwide. To wit, the most recent prime minister of Australia was an openly declared atheist. It makes sense to me that in such a context, Houston would both enormously identify with and like Driscoll, and would have a kind of “f*** you” attitude towards critical church-outsiders trying to pressure him to do things in a certain way–an attitude that matches up quite well with Driscoll’s own attitude.
This is a bit of an eye opener for me. I had been operating from the belief that I was the underdog trying to have a conversation with the very powerful person. But it seems to me that at least in this interaction, he has seen himself as the underdog, and more-than-that, from that mindset, rather than trying to have a conversation with those of us he sees as critical bullies, he has kind of written us off–not worth trying to talk to. I honestly don’t know where that leaves us, but I have to say it’s really really not attractive, and really doesn’t seem at all like Jesus, who was at least willing to converse authentically with both outsiders and insiders, and who never, as best I can tell, acted out of cowardice.
Source: By Phil Wyman, My experience of being deceived by Australia’s most powerful celebrity pastor, Burning Religion,
“Obviously I have no idea”.
See you’re quoting only half the sentence there. Hillsong has taught you well….
New taste’s cult has given him a bad day again as usual.
Rather interesting. I find a third dichotomy, that is, Brian Houston thought by recording the interview, he can have his cake and eat it too. This is ofcourse still very dishonest.
My concern is about the author, who claimed to be a former christian.
His comment, “Long before moving to Australia myself, I had heard of Hillsong because I myself, and the super-conservative, fundamentalist church I grew up in, loved their worship music and used it regularly during worship services”
Is very telling, if music is used in any church, in this case, hillsong music in a ultra conservative church, the transition to any other church that uses music to draw them in, will have built bridges to churches, that would otherwise we considered false or cults. Church is not for the “unchurched” but for believers.
If anyone is attending church for what they get out of it then one has to question if they were ever saved. Music draws on the emotions, and people can and have confused that for the holy spirit, thus making a emotional decision, that can easilly be broken later on. The bible couldn’t make it any clearer, those who left us were never one of us. Unplug hillsongs power cord of music, and we would have separated the sheep from the goats.
Hillsong is just another catholic type church, where many go to throw some many at the thieves, get emotional over the rock and roll show, appease their conscious, and think they have done God a favor. No wonder the hillsong pentecostal movement has such a large dropout rate, as demonstrated by this auther. God help him
“He did what no one had ever done before or has done since: died for our sins and rose from the dead.” Brian Houston, Live Love Lead. page 72.
“I had been aware of this deconversion process for a while, and one day while in conversation with my good friend Nathalie, I realised I no longer believed Jesus rose from the dead, and that as such, I could really no longer in any sense call myself a Christian.” Benjamin Ady.
“The reason why we do give non-believing voices on this site is because so few Christians are standing up to this corrupt new religion that masquerades itself as Christianity.” churchwatcher
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Jesus. (Mark 16:16 NIV)
“Dear God, I come to you today, and I thank you for loving me. Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me of everything I’ve done wrong. Change me, I want to live for you. Heal me. I give my life to you. Comfort me and give me strength, one day at a time. Holy Spirit fill me up right now, give me your peace, and your guidance. Give me joy, and faith to know you’re with me and you’ll never let me go. In Jesus Name, I pray. Amen.”
Altar call prayer, Nick Vujicic, Hillsong Church, 12 July 2015.
Unlike Benjamin Ady, Nick Vujicic believes in Jesus and knows that Jesus died and rose from the grave for his sins.
“We believe Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and that He submitted to a cruel death on the cross of Calvary, all as a willing sacrifice, a substitutionary atonement for our sins.”
I hope for your own eternal life you are NOT a Mormon. There so many Christian apologetics websites which clearly show how Joseph Smith departed from Christianity.
e.g. quick points list https://carm.org/comparison-between-christian-doctrine-and-mormon-doctrine
Smith even claimed he had an angel Moroni appear to him, telling him information that is supported NOWHERE by the bible.
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or *an angel from heaven*, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
“I hope for your own eternal life you are NOT a Mormon.”
No, obviously not! Why do you think I posted the 2nd link with it?
Was explaining to newtaste Hillsong is a CULT as Mormonism is. Hillsong is trying to portray itself as a “Christian’ ministry who ‘believes in Jesus’, the same way the Mormons try to portray themselves, but a tiger cannot hide its stripes.
My apologies!!!! I read first link quickly and jumped to conclusions.
Following church watch will do that.
“My apologies!!!! I read first link quickly and jumped to conclusions.”
Be fair- churchwatch didn’t provide the link + I owned up to my own error in doing not comparing the links. Have interacted online with Mormons using similar link/s in the past.
P.S. If followers of churchwatch (allegedly) jump to conclusions does that mean you do too newtaste? Will have to remember that…. 🙂
Seems to me Mr Houston would make a good muslim. They are permitted to lie for the cause of allah. Brian Houston does not serve the Christian God else he would know his deliberate lie will keep him and Mark Driscoll from the kingdom – unless he repents! IPHD
Ed Young had Mormon Glenn Beck preach at his pulpit. church watch had atheist Benjamin Ady preach at their pulpit.
You would rightly criticise Ed Young and Glenn Beck. But your track record shows that if Glenn Beck happened to ever criticise Hillsong you would be in bed with Beck in a flash praising his anti-Hillsong stance.
“But your track record shows that if Glenn Beck happened to ever criticise Hillsong you would be in bed with Beck in a flash praising his anti-Hillsong stance.”
Define what you mean by “you would be in bed” Newtaste.
We take comments from people from all walks of life, pointing out that Brian Houston lies again and again about Jesus and winning people to Jesus. If Brian Houston or Hillsong love Jesus and want to see people saved, they’d consider the integrity of their church’s witness and the genuine love for neighbour.
Christ has commanded us to love our neigbour and this would include Mormon’s for the sake of Christ’s integrity and to share the gospel with him to see him saved. But we on the other hand will make it clear that Beck is a Mormon and not a Christian as we’ve made it clear that Benjamin Ady and Tanya Levin are not Christian. Ed Young on the other hand isn’t. So he, by our definition, is “in the same bed” with Beck.
BTW. We thank you for your criticisms and information updates. But slagging off at Tanya and Ady do you no good. Pull your head in and please remain constructive with your criticism. Otherwise you come across bratty.
As I have stated before, you will gang up with anyone to further your cause.
Just one of your many many slags implying that Brian Houston is not Christian.
“We are personally becoming more and more convinced that these are deliberate tactics deployed by Brian Houston to encourage Christians to embrace his brothers and sisters who have these occult leanings.”
Reading that again is rip roaringly funny because you and the guys you quote think that the makers of Noah were making out it was a factual movie, when it was a work of fiction as the makers pointed out. FYI, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are not real.
And whose “cause” are you promoting Newtaste? Certainly not Christ’s, given the false gospel/speakers Hillsong and Houston unashameably promote.
Hillsong Conference had that other super-spiritual winner, Rick Warren, this year.
Elton John would be a good candidate for a special guest to lead worship at Hillsong’s 2016 conference.
“Reading that again is rip roaringly funny because you and the guys you quote think that the makers of Noah were making out it was a factual movie”
Newtaste, both Bobbie Houston and Brian Houston believed it was biblical and endorsed it.
You only find it funny New Taste because you seem to lack discernment in understanding the difference between occultism and Christianity. Stop acting immature and deal with the issues in these posts.
Benjamin Wheeler said:
@jarkko–Wow Elton John would be fun. They could significantly raise ticket prices. =)
“But your track record shows that”
Speaking of “track records,” newtaste stop playing games and examine Brian Houston’s and Hillsong’s track records. Not the least of which is, a history of begging for lots and lots of money.
If Sheikh Hilaly criticised Hillsong, church watch would be praising him as an “honest, caring and extremely intelligent guy”.
Go on – break Godwin’s Law – you know you want to….
church watch already thinks that Hillsong are fascists. They’ve gone there long ago.
Fascism = a way of organizing a society in which a government, ruled by a dictator, controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government
Hillsong = a way of organising a congregation in which a system, ruled by a “pastor/pastrix”, controls the lives of the congregation and in which the congregation are not allowed to disagree with the system.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
The issue is this. And it’s not immature.
The Judgment of the Dead
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:11-15 (NIV)
Clancy Seabrook said:
“The issue is this. And it’s not immature.
The Judgment of the Dead”
A red herring. Your post did nothing to diminish Brian Houston’s heresies nor his apostasy.