Bobbie and Brian Houston: Hillsong is our destiny, it is what God called us to do
What attracts people to the Hillsong Conference?
Brian: Year by year often someone or maybe a couple of people from local churches have come and then got inspired and felt like they've really been equipped for their own Christian life .They go home and become missionaries and then the next year they bring more and then the following year a whole lot more and that's how the conference tends to grow. We started the conference down in Australia 27 years ago and the very first one we had only had 124 people, it was then primarily a music conference, and it developed into an all church conference. We have always themed the conference 'championing the cause of the local churches everywhere' and that is what we try to do. We try to not make this conference just about Hillsong Church. People can listen to podcasts but it is not the same as actually being a part of the atmosphere of the conference. I find that it just fires people up and gets them excited about church and serving God.
The conference encourages churches to go out and spread God's word.
Brian: That's what we are about. Bobbie and I are great believers in the potential of the local church. A lot of people have different concepts of what church is but we are believers of the power of the local Church and feel like the potential of the church is far beyond what often times we see. One of the scriptures that I stand by all the time is psalm 92: 13 'Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God'. This conference is all about trying to build the kind of churches where people can flourish, where people are released in their calling whether it's in creativity or in ministry of any form whatsoever. Even if it's Christian business people who have got a passion and a heart to raise finances for the Kingdom of God, we just want to be encouraging them.
Bobbie: Also, really encouraging Churches to be a force for good in the community because a lot of people have perceptions about the church. This is a leadership conference as such and every spectrum of the church community is encouraged to go home inspired to not just build their church community, but to be a real blessing in the greater community and help with various social needs and concerns.
Do you face any challenges leading such a large church?
Brian: All the time, we love what we do but there are always challenges. I guess we have been blessed in a sense that no challenge has ever come along that has knocked us out. There's always a way through, always a way forward, but if you look at it spiritually, if the kingdom of God is advancing and gaining ground then you've got to think that that the kingdom of darkness is losing ground and the devil doesn't like losing ground. So often times I think anyone who is on the forefront is going to face spiritual opposition. It is the spiritual battles that need to be won but because God is on our side, I think knowing that gives you the strength to just keep pushing through the challenges and keep going.
Bobbie: One of the great challenges is just finding the facilities for growing congregations.
What more could churches do to nurture revival?
Brian: I would just encourage pastors and leaders everywhere to speak the language of revival and have an expectation for it and not to allow it to become this unreachable thing where we build a picture of revival as something that is almost unattainable. I feel that it is the will of God for us to live and walk in a sense of renewal and revival. I feel that we need to live and act like it is God's will for our lives.
Bobbie: We actually wrote a 40 day devotional leading up to the July conference and also this one and the catchphrases within them were 'revival begins with me'. I don't think revival is just something that falls out of control and out of the sky, it wells up within. It creates excitement and enthusiasm and then that becomes contagious. Your faith becomes contagious to the point where people are asking 'what's going on with you?' 'something good is happening in you tell me about it!' We just want people to have a personal sense of revival in their own heart, spirit and in their relationship with the Lord. That will have an outflow in so many different directions as people go back to their own places of planting and where ever they live.
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The Hillsong Conference has been going on for 27 years in Australia. What have been some of the highlights of previous conferences?
Brian: That's a huge question because there have been a lot of highlights. What we have found year after year is ourselves asking 'how can it be better than that?' The miracle is you feel every year like somehow it does get better. What we've tried to do is stick to a simple formula really and that is obviously Hillsong as a church. If we just stay true to what has worked in our church and what brings spiritual life to our church and just let that translate into the conference it always seems to work. There have been so many highs in so many of our conferences. It's very hard to pinpoint any specific moments. After the 25th conference we did a medley of all the old Hillsong Songs, for example Shout to the Lord and way back to the very early days of Hillsong songs. That's always been a highlight because everyone loves to hear all those old songs.
It must be very nostalgic.
Bobbie: Yes it is. It reminds them of the times when God did something great in their lives.
Over the years of the conferences would you say that the two of you have grown with them?
Brian: I think so definitely. We've always been amazed with the conference. Those earlier years, maybe we a felt a little out of our depth with the way it was growing. I feel much more like it's our destiny, it is what God called us to do. I feel more confident about leading the conference and if we are not growing personally then our ministries wouldn't be growing either, so I think it is always a challenge if you want to see things go forward. We have to be growing as people, becoming bigger leaders and digging deeper spiritually. If we are doing these things then hopefully we will continue to see the blessing around us.