It's that time of year again, when thousands of Christians descend upon the O2 Arena in London for the annual Hillsong Europe Conference. With the 20,000 seat almost at capacity, and delegates coming from as far away as Singapore and the US, those pouring into North Greenwich were promised a night to remember.
Following a rather bizarre opening involving hundreds of black-clad volunteers with glowing bulb-shaped hats and a spate of breakdancing, senior pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, took to the stage to deliver the first talk of the three-day conference.
In an address entitled 'When faith talks', Houston focused on the importance of speaking out our confession of faith.
"What does faith sound like?" he asked. "It's us hearing God's word over every circumstance and situation. It's God hearing what we say, and us hearing what God says.
"Faith definitely has a sound and it definitely talks."
We are surrounded by words, Houston continued, and we often underestimate their significance. "The work of the Spirit and miracles happen by the hearing of faith – by God hearing your faith," he explained, insisting that we need to speak out words of life, rather than those tinted with negativity or doubt.
"People underestimate the power of confession – how important it is to see breakthrough, miracles, [and] dreams fulfilled. We so easily underestimate the place that faith takes."
The affirmation of truth and the declaration on God's word and his will, "flies directly in the face of fear, doubt and negativity", Houston added. "If you want to see lives changed, prayers answered and breakthrough, don't underestimate...what aligning with the word of God can reveal in your life."
Houston suggested giving thanks, speaking out the truths found in the Bible and listening to music that declares God's goodness – taking the time to make a quick plug for Hillsong United's latest album.
He then looked to the example of Paul, who faced incredible persecution but continued to speak out his faith. When times get hard, and life seems dark, it's even more important to speak out truth and confess the faithfulness of the God we believe in, Houston explained.
Hillsong may be the epitome of 'shiny' church, but Houston captivated his audience with stories from his own life when he hadn't always lived out what he preaches. He admitted to having succumbed to negativity when the church was being kicked out of its first building some 30 years ago, and it took a 17-year-old boy who was convinced of God's faithfulness to find a new place to worship.
"That 17-year-old boy showed me up," Houston said. Hillsong ended up meeting in the building the young man found for five and a half years, paying just $1 in rent a year.
"Let's be honest, we need breakthrough and miracles in our churches, our cities, and in our ministries," he said.
"You need it when it comes to pressing on and in to all God has got for you. If you've gone away from it, I exhort you to come back to speaking the way that faith speaks. Listen to how faith talks, because when faith talks, something powerful is going to happen.
"The words you speak have a huge impact on the life that you enjoy."