Well it is safe to say it’s been a time of anus horribilis for the global mega church.
With revelations of breaches of trust emerging from their US Branch, accusation of rape from a junior staffer against a Hillsong Pastor,criticism of holding live music during a time when music festivals were banned in NSW to the resignation of Senior Pastor Brian Houston, it is clear there is a lot we can learn from mistakes being made by the mega church.
Now anyone that has ran a global ministry of the size of Hillsong will know that it takes a lot of good people to get it off the ground, let alone be fruitful.
There is no doubt that the global reach of Hillsong has made it a fruitful ministry they do a lot of things right and this is no way makes them a ‘bad’ church.
But there is a lesson to be learned here, that nothing is infallible, procedures can fall through the cracks, and perhaps now is a great opportunity for all churches to reflect broadly on their own procedures their own culture.
Hillsong NYC a story of failed procedures, a failed leadership culture.
An investigation conducted by an independent law firm into the culture of the New York City branch of Hillsong Church, painted a picture of a church leadership rife with abuse, sexual misconduct and secrecy.
The termination of the former pastor of the church in Carl Lentz opened up a pandora’s box of extramarital affairs and spiritual abuse of volunteers and staff.
However could this whole story be an example of what happens when adequate safeguards are not put in place by the Church Board.
According to Christian Post the report detailed that Carl Lentz acted with so much freedom in running Hillsong NYC there was a sense that the “church’s Australian leaders had little to no control over him,”. Multiple staffers reported that Lentz had uttered the words “Australia is dead to us”.
But that is also a failing of the Mother Church, surely in instances where there is a multisite church especially a church of a global nature that effective oversight needs to be put in place.
The story of Hillsong NYC is really an example of a failure in effective oversight of your church leadership. If effective oversight was put in placeLentz would not be the final arbiter of what is considered appropriate behaviour.
Will local churches now place more emphasis on effective oversight?
I should hope so.
When abuse happens in Church it can nearly always be traced back to lack of accountability, lack of effective oversight, putting incorrect people in the wrong positions.
In my role in The Hub Baptist Church another multisite church, it has given me access to the workings of our leadership about how do we ensure effective oversight?
We have been in the privilege of being able to speak into other churches, working with our denomination to assist other churches in our region with their own policies, procedures and framework.
We have been at churches on the bring of collapse and also faced issues internally.
Almost every issue I have seen can be traced back to the wrong people in the wrong positions.
Scripture makes clear the kind of people we are to see in eldership.
The Apostle Paul gave frequent instructions to Timothy about the sort of people we should see in leadership.
Sometimes in Church we give responsibility to the loudest voices, that is not healthy.
I hope that by following the scriptures taking time to put in effective leadership procedures we can learn from Hillsong’s mistakes, see no more abuse and his name be glorified.
Ben Kruzins is the Campus Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Ocean Shores on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is also a Journalism graduate who has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.