Ady, Benjamin Ady, Brian Houston, celebrity pastor, Hillsong, hillsong conference, Hillsong Conference 2015, Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, protest, protester
I want to say thank you to Church Watch for inviting me to write about my experience protesting Brian Houston’s deception at Hillsong Melbourne today. I hadn’t been planning to do so, but the exercise was useful for me in processing my own experience. Also, I just want to be really clear that I’m not a Christian, do not attend any church, and am not affiliated with Church Watch, but instead have graciously been asked to write a guest post.
For a bit of background, feel free to read my post about my experience of being deceived by Brian Houston, Australia’s most powerful celebrity pastor, here http://burningreligion.com/2015/07/07/my-experience-of-being-deceived-by-australias-most-powerful-celebrity-pastor/ . In short, I spearheaded what grew into a massive media campaign in Australia to protest Hillsong Church giving misogynist and abusive ex-megachurch-pastor Mark Driscoll a gigantic public platform at Hillsong Conference in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. Under gigantic pressure, Hillsong’s senior pastor Mr. Houston agreed to not have Mr. Driscoll appear at the conference. Then he went ahead and interviewed Mr. Driscoll at the conference anyway. In retrospect, one can see that his public announcement that he was cancelling Mr. Driscoll’s appearance was very carefully worded so as to lead protestors and Australian media to believe Mr. Driscoll would no longer be appearing at the conference at all, whereas hidden in the details of his deceptive and misleading language was a loophole he’d left himself whereby he could interview Driscoll on camera, offsite from the conference, and then broadcast the interview at the conference and still not have technically “lied”.
I found this obvious deception quite outrageous, and given that I’d actually shown up at Hillsong Melbourne services with a gigantic “Thank you for listening and cancelling Driscoll’s appearance” sign, I felt I really couldn’t just let the deception go, but for my own sake, and because I want to live in a world where popular spiritual leaders can’t just completely get away with lying to the public, I felt I had to go back one more time to retract my thanks and publicly say “Brian Houston lied to me”. Some friends of mine in Melbourne, 3 Christians including one pastor, also found the deception outrageous and agreed to join me in protesting it. So the four of us stood outside Hillsong Melbourne Worship services this morning with our protest signs. Here’s a photo of us.
The fourth member of our little group, my wife Meg, is taking the photo. Here’s another including her.
Here’s the protest signs right after they were made the other night
And here’s the other very silly one referencing Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” we made a bit later.
As you can see, we intended to protest with good humor =).
Some things I realised/noted/learned:
- One thing that struck me today was the gigantic gulf between the take of so many people I know, who found Mr. Houston’s deception quite outrageous, and the take of every single Hillsong insider to whom I spoke today, which involved justifying and minimising and denying Mr. Houston’s deception. My brilliant friend Alister Pate helped me understand this gulf in terms of M. Scott Peck’s framework from “The Road Less Traveled”, which proposes 4 stages of human spiritual development.
- As at my previous protests at Hillsong, 98%+ of people going into and out of Hillsong services basically entirely ignored us. I’m trying to understand this from their perspective, and it makes sense to me. I think most people probably just aren’t in the psycho-emotional space, most of the time, to engage with protestors. I mean I think the vast majority of Hillsong Church goers are probably reasonably nice people who are involved with Hillsong each for their own reasons, and that likely most of these reasons are fairly excellent and reasonable. Most people just aren’t like me. If I see a protester at something, I’m instantly overwhelmed with curiosity, and massively attracted to that person, whatever they might be protesting, because I see in them a kindred spirit who has the psycho-emotional capacity to be an unafraid outspoken outsider. It takes a certain amount of fortitude and energy to do this sort of thing and ask people to engage with you when you know most of them are going to disagree. I’m okay with most people being different from me and not wanting to engage.
- My other realisation, about myself, this morning, is that I’m totally done with Hillsong/Mr. Houston now. I’ve spent the last 10 weeks or so engaging with them, to the best of my ability–first in asking them not to give this abusive ex-pastor, Mr. Driscoll, a platform, then in saying thank you when they acquiesced, then finally in publicly calling them out when it turns out they lied. This has sucked up a lot of my energy and time, and a chunk of my money as well. I thought for a long time that Hillsong/Mr. Houston and I were having a civil conversation of sorts. But when Mr. Houston lied, and then when all the insiders I spoke to at Hillsong Melbourne this morning (the <2% of folks who did engage) mostly spent the conversation defending, minimising, and denying Mr. Houston’s deception, as well as trying to proselytise me, psychoanalyse me, tell me I was robbing myself, and changing the subject, I realised I’m no longer willing to keep trying to have a civil conversation with these folks. I’m very happy to gently cut them right out of my life, in order to create space for more delicious, engaging, authentic folks. So you likely won’t see me writing/posting about, protesting, or otherwise engaging with Hillsong Church any further for the foreseeable future, unless something changes quite radically on their side of the conversation. I’m usually fairly happy to, as my friend Jim Henderson (author of “Question Mark, Why the Church Welcomes Bullies and How to Stop It”, which I highly recommend) puts it, stay in the room with difference. But not indefinitely with toxic difference.
Thank you for your time, for taking a stand against these deceitful “Pastors,” and for writing your thoughts. It’s tragic that corrupt men like Brian Houston and Mark Driscoll aren’t held accountable to anyone.
I understand you’re not a Christian, but you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.
Benjamin Wheeler said:
Gooniebird–thank you! =)
You’re welcome. God bless! 🙂
I understand you’re not a Christian
The sad thing is that although Benjamin Ady is not a Christian, he’s still far more honest than Brian Houston.
It is very sad. Christians are called to call out each other’s sins so they’ll repent and be forgiven. Where are the Christians? Why are they neglecting their responsibilities?
Its too bad things didn’t go Ady’s way. Its almost as if, when he asks for something to be done, he should get it. Because he’s so special and so self aware, that makes him special.
I know he’s special because he told me so. Especially that completely not useless, stereotypical, self serving, or conceited second bullet point. I look at protestors and disregard them because I’m not Ady. That’s his job on this planet and I’m so glad he told me that’s what makes him different. Great qualifying statement to a great article by a great website.
Let houston live his life. You’re no more special than he is.
Sir or Ma’am, are you aware that Mark Driscoll’s books contained plagiarized material?
Are you aware that in Mark Driscoll’s book, “Vintage Church,” on page 105 he wrote, “plagiarism… subverts God’s work in and through you… If you use the work of others, you are not a teacher, and you should quit your job and go do anything but speak”?
Are you aware that he misused church funds to buy his way onto the New York Times Best Seller’s List?
Are you aware that Mark Driscoll taught other Pastors that people who do not agree with their visions need to be “thrown off the bus, they need to be run over”?
(Mark Driscoll’s quotes are played in the middle.)
This man is NOT repentant of his sins. If he truly was, then he would have publicly apologized for ALL of his sins. Within Brian Houston’s interview with Mark Driscoll all of these past sins are referred to as “mistakes.”
The fact that Brian Houston reviewed Mark Driscoll even after saying he wouldn’t and the fact that Brian Houston did NOT confront Mark with these past sins of his means that Brian Houston (who is a liar himself) is in league with this liar.
Thanks for such a well thought out response. Since I mentioned Mark Driscoll a million times in my previous paragraph, I’m glad you felt the need to mention him here a million times.
On the off chance you see this, condemning Houston is not the answer. And knowing your rational you will disagree. So congrats for making it this far into the paragraph.
I believe you must convict lovingly. Or spend less time on this website. It seems the two are interchangeable.
“… condemning Houston is not the answer.”
No one needs to condemn Houston – he stands condemned already by the words he has spoken, and every day he continues to heap up judgement against himself. All the critics are doing is pointing out what has been obvious for a long time.
“I believe you must convict lovingly.”
Right. Maybe God won’t send Brian to the lake of fire – maybe the lake of fire doesn’t even exist. Or perhaps you simply don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.
“I believe you must convict lovingly.”
This website and all others like it ARE a labor of love. Nobody enjoys having to give correction, nor expend the time it takes. And it is not up to ‘people’ to “convict”, that is the job of the Holy Spirit. All we can do is point out the problems which ARE real and ARE there, and hope that others like YOU wake up.
And not to mention Mark Driscoll’s pornographic ‘visions’….
I think we the Body of Christ have had enough of Mark Driscoll for awhile. A long while….
Agreed. By Biblical Standards he cannot be a Pastor anymore, yet he’s speaking as though he’s going to become one again.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
“Let houston live his life.”
Houston doesn’t have a life: he is a dead man walking.
Haha well done Team ChurchWatch!!
Road to Emmaus said:
“So five protestors?”
@John, Again YOU are the delusional one on this website. It doesn’t matter how few the protestors were. What matters is those 5 protestors were the ONLY ones telling THE TRUTH.
They may well have had good intentions in relation to Mark Driscoll. But those atheist protestors deny the truth that will set them free. They deny Jesus.
Benjamin Wheeler said:
Hey Newtaste–just as a point of information, all the protestors other than me on Sunday were Christians =)
Also, my own current experience is that I’m much much freer than I was when I was a Christian.
@ Benjamin – As long as you realise we have our confidence in Christ, not in our feelings or experience.
Road to Emmaus said:
“They deny Jesus.”
Which BTW they will not get from Brian Houston/Hillsong.
Brian Houston/Hillsong offers a 2 Cor 11:4 false jesus, false spirit, false gospel.
“They deny Jesus.”
So does Brian Houston. The difference is that he is making a lot of money out of it.
Clancy Seabrook said:
Brian Houston worships the almighty dollar. That is his god.
Mark Driscoll is a plagiarist, a bully, a liar, and a man who is Biblically disqualified from being a Pastor. Brian Houston covered up his father’s pedophilia, a bully, a liar, and is Biblically disqualified from being a Pastor. Neither of these men teach what the Bible actually says and instead preach whatever comes from their imaginations to draw large crowds to themselves. I would be so bold as to say neither are Christians due to these undeniable facts.
The fact that this Atheist man from another country came to stand up against these corrupt men when Christians did not speaks volumes about Christianity in Australia.
He’s not done, and I don’t think Brian Houston asked for any advice.
” Tanya Levin
I like getting open letters. Shows how obsolete the old post office is getting. I’d be more interested in your responses though, than mine. Well, at least to start…
I can see that on the weekend I’m going to have to publish an open letter to John Sandeman and Bible Society Australia. He’s awfullly (…..) free with his (……) unsolicited advice, isn’t he?
Are you “cyberstalking” Tanya Levin on Facebook, Newtaste? Or are you one of her FB “friends”. Why don’t you interact with her personally on her wall? Why waste an opportunity when you could personally share Christ with her.
Tanya’s response, Newtaste.
Benjamin Wheeler said:
teehee. that was awesome fast =) Nice work newtaste =)
Has no one seen the four letter word in Newtaste”s response just above…?
Apollo – Noted, however Newtaste was pasting something Benjamin Wheeler said. Will edit the “words”.
Cheers, Team Churchwatch.
Brian Houston is coming to my neck of the woods (as in, a church just down the street from me) in October. I’m going to have to remember your Monty Python sign. It has just the right level of mockery and humor needed in a situation like this.
Mirele – You might like to listen to this latest broadcast from “Fighting For The Faith”, Elizabeth from Norway discussing her church’s takeover by Hillsong.
Houston is not a politician so I want to know why you are so bent on accusing him.You do not believe in God so my question is, if he lied, and that’s possible, why don’t you leave it between him and God? Who are you anyway??? How does it affect your life if he lied? About the other guy Driscoll, again, what’s it to you?? Glad to hear you don’t have any desire to go on. I don’t go to Hillsong and I don’t like Hilsong, but to actually try something like you have its outrageous to say the least. SHAME ON YOU INDEED!!!
“if he lied, and that’s possible, why don’t you leave it between him and God? Who are you anyway???”
Lori, have you ever read the Bible? What pray tell does it say about “false teachers?”
“About the other guy Driscoll, again, what’s it to you??”
Do you believe in the Bible? 1 Timothy 5:20
“But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.”