Brian and Bobbie Houston to step back from global leadership of Hillsong

Brian and Bobbie Houston, lead pastors of HillsongHillsong

Brian and Bobbie Houston are making way for a new generation of younger leaders to take the helm of Hillsong Church. 

Houston, who turns 67 this week, said at Hillsong's Vision Sunday service that he had been "doing a lot of soul-searching and praying" about the future of the church and decided it was time for change. 

He said the couple, who have led the church for 38 years, are "definitely not retiring" but gradually handing over the reins to others, starting with Gary and Cathy Clarke, lead pastors of Hillsong London, who will move into a global leadership role over the next two years. 

"For Bobbie and I, moving forward and I guess globally we've grown so rapidly and it's been really a time when what has become clear is we need to put a whole lot more structure into what we're doing globally," Houston said, adding that it had become "virtually impossible" and "unsustainable" for them to manage the international church by themselves. 

"I want to look at ways that we can share that load and over these next couple of years heading up to that church being 40 here," he said.

"I would like to really put in place younger leaders. Younger leaders here in Australia and younger leaders around the globe."

The decision follows a challenging time for the international Hillsong family, with its NYC campus pastor, Carl Lentz, being fired last November over adultery. 

His ousting was followed by an internal investigation into claims of financial abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships between staff and volunteers at the NYC church.  The probe closed last week with an admission of failings but the findings are not to be made public. 

"We're definitely not retiring," Houston said. "We'll be around but I do think it's the right season to just look at a whole new season."