On July 6th, 2017, Brian Houston wrote an article for an Australian News site. In this article, he shows himself to be a "used car salesman" who is just pushing his Hillsong brand under the guise of being a pastor who cares about the entire country of Australia. Let's take a look at what he wrote and analyze it; Houston's words are in bold, and my comments will be in italics and in parentheses. -Steven Kozar
THE census results that revealed a small drop in the number of people calling themselves “Christian”, and less people identifying themselves as being affiliated with any religion, should be a wake-up call for the Christian church across Australia.
While these results were not unexpected, the census also showed the changing social values our country is facing including a rise in the number of people following the Muslim faith.
Again, this is not surprising, as it is clear that Australia’s immigration policies are having an impact on the texture and makeup of our society. Yet as a Christian pastor it does concern me that what I see as the foundations of our community — the values that bring us together — are being diminished, and the faith that has shaped our nation for so long is declining.
While many Australians are not practising Christians and value, as I do, the many different cultures that form our country, I believe the vast majority also want a strong sense of national identity and don’t want to lose those features that make us unique. (This appears to be an attempt to say to the non-Christians in his audience: "Hey! We're really nice; not like those Muslims. If you won't become a Christian, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me continue growing this Hillsong monster across the country; it makes us unique!")
At the same time, Australians are concerned at the extremism they see overseas and are fearful that recent events in Australia make us vulnerable to a similar path.
The Christian church can — and should — play a significant role in reshaping our national identity and providing Australians with hope, love, peace and faith. I am convinced that, just as Christianity was the solution to the greatest human issues 2000 years ago, so it is to this day. (This is one of many examples where Houston turns the Christian Church into a vague and charitable entity for the purpose of increasing brand acceptance to his targeted demographic. How, specifically, is the Christian Church offering a solution to the greatest human issues? What is the solution he speaks of? Who knows? He never proclaims the actual Gospel message. )
The recent census figures show that many Australians are understandably disenchanted by church child abuse scandals (This is coming from the guy who protected his pedophile father, Frank Houston)and the perceived irrelevance of formalised religion. At the same time we are seeing an increasing demonising of Christianity for holding firm to 2000-year-old biblical perspectives on societal issues such as sexuality, marriage and the inherent value of human life.
But are we witnessing the demise of Christianity and the church in our country? I don’t believe so. Despite these census statistics there are life-giving churches all over the country that are growing, youthful, and clearly meeting the very real needs of people. (Here's where Brian Houston defines his brand: Life-giving. Growing. Youthful. Meeting the Very Real Needs of People. No Old People Allowed. Take Your Hymnals and Your Wheelchairs and Just Go Away.)
The gospel message is timeless and should not be tampered with; but for the church, the methods simply must change to keep pace with society’s desperate cry for authenticity and a deeper meaning in life. The Christian message is one of love and acceptance, and must replace the sense of hatred, fear and cynicism that the world is experiencing at the moment. (It should surprise no one that Houston fails to articulate any Gospel message at all. "The gospel message is one of love and acceptance?" No Brian, that's the message of postmodern pop culture; that's the message of a spineless frontman trying to win the approval of the most gullible members of society. The Gospel is about how Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind. If society is actually crying out for authenticity, as you claim, how is the Hillsong brand helping? By putting on even bigger spectacles in even larger auditoriums with even cooler "pastors," who have bad theology but dress like primping rock stars? THAT'S the Hillsong solution to society's deepest needs? Brian Houston IS the problem! Hillsong is a heavily-marketed corporate entity pretending to be a church, and hurting untold thousands of people with a false Gospel message.)
In my experience, as I engage with everyday Australians in cafes, airports, or shopping malls, people at large are not anti-God; they are anti hypocrisy, irrelevance, and ‘tired’ old religion that has compromised on issues of morality and Christian distinctives. (This is the Hillsong pitch: "You don't like hypocrites? Neither does Hillsong! You don't like 'tired' old religion? Neither does Hillsong! Wow, it sounds like our church is perfect for you, doesn't it?! Now, what's it gonna take to get you to drive this church off the lot today?")
We, the church in Australia, are stewards of a message desperately needed in these complex days. The good news of Jesus Christ is a message of life and hope and the New Testament points to a God who is for us and not against us. In a world of extremism, tension, hatred, horror and sheer evil, the Australian church, no matter what the persuasion, is desperately needed in this country. But are we recognising societal needs and focusing on bringing life-giving answers? Sadly, often the answer is no. People need community and a real sense of belonging. People need hope. You can live a certain amount of time without food — a lot less time without water — but we were never designed to live without hope. (Once again, Houston mentions nothing of the redemption that Jesus provided by His death on the cross. Instead, he tells everyone about the need for hope that we all share. Yes, we all need hope, but Houston is not providing real hope, he's selling the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation bucket of bolts that takes money from people and gives them nothing in return. The "community" of Hillsong is not based on the true fellowship that the Christian Church provides, because Hillsong is not a real Christian Church. Btw, yes I know, I know, there are some actual Christians involved in Hillsong...)
People are tired of religion with form but without substance, with ritual but without relevance — that is what people are shunning. People are scared because of the evil we constantly witness on the news — in the name of religion. (Hillsong, like every cool new Mega-Church, claims to be "real" and "relevant" but those are just catch-phrases, and a growing number of people are abandoning these "churches," as they figure out that this is a bait and switch sales pitch. This is a marketing gimmick, and it works for a while, just like any multi-level marketing organization. Hillsong constantly hypes itself, uses hyped-up rock bands with laser light shows and has hyped-up "pastors" preaching a positive-thinking/prosperity message that tickles itching ears. And of course, it always contrasts itself against crusty old "religion." You don't like religion? Neither does Hillsong!...)
No matter what the denomination or name above our doors, the Australian church that believes in Jesus Christ, must show more commitment to the real issues. We must help people to find a sense of belonging, meet physical and spiritual needs, and speak life-giving messages that connect with people’s everyday lives. (So, Brian says that churches must "show more commitment to real issues." That's quite a sentence, coming from the master of hype, marketing and Prosperity Pimping. What does he leave out, again? The Gospel message. Jesus did not die on the cross to just help people "find a place of belonging," so we can "speak life-giving messages" of prosperity and earthly success. Oh wait, the Gospel message doesn't "connect with people's everyday lives," nevermind...)
With a 2017 worldview and a first-century message, the church in Australia will continue to be an active, effective, and dynamic part of the heart and fabric of this wonderful country. (This is a real audacious sales job; it's completely backward and upside down. This is putting a cheap, but shiney paint job on a broken-down rust bucket. A "2017 worldview?" What does that even mean? And he says that Hillsong has a "first-century message?" Really?? When did the first-century church use stadiums, rock bands with laser-light shows, TV shows and Word of Faith heretical teaching based on sorcery, selfishness and power-grabbing businessmen sporting perfectly groomed beard stubble in place of sacrificial and pastoral shepherding? When did the first-century church abandon the message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and replace it with a Naked Cowboy?
When did the first-century church go to bars with pop superstars to down shots and start to take off their clothes? When did the first-century church have "pastors" like these? (yes, these are Hillsong "pastors"):
Let’s keep our distinctive traditions, Eucharist or biblical values but recognise the times we now live in and bring to people the answers they desperately need. (This sounds like a politician fumbling for words and desperately trying to come across as broadminded and knowledgeable while saying nothing of any substance. "Eucharist?" How does that even fit within that sentence?? Come on Brian, you can afford a good ghost-writer; I suggest you hire someone who can construct fully functional sentences.)
I’m a believer. The church in Australia has the perfect message for a deeply troubled world in 2017. We just cannot afford to make the methods more sacred than the message. (Translation: "We've got this giant Hillsong thing figured out, and I'm getting filthy rich as a result, so you better let us keep expanding like a giant blob of rancid bread dough across this great country.")
Read and research more about Brian Houston and the Hillsong Brand:The Brian Houston & Hillsong Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Abuse, Obfuscation & Money Generation
Here are a whole bunch of episodes of Fighting for the Faith where Brian Houston's "sermons" are compared to true Christian doctrine from the Bible: Fighting for the Faith
Tired of Mega-Church Mobsters and the Evangelical Industrial Complex? Read A Manifesto of Christian Discernment
Steven Kozar started The Messed Up Church; he is an artist, musician, blogger and stuff.