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Founder/Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, 90,000 plus weekly attendance in campuses around the world

Author, his latest: Live, Love, Lead (2015)

Host, Hillsong TV, one of the fastest growing broadcasts in the world

Executive director, Hillsong Music, one of the world’s largest producers of Christian music

Subject of movie, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

Wife: Bobbie

3 grown daughters and two sons-in-law

Guest Bio

Pastor Brian Houston on Living Boldly SMALL BEGINNINGS

Brian grew up in a Christian home in New Zealand.  His father, Frank Houston, was a prominent pastor. He gave his heart to the Lord when he was five and knew at an early age God wanted him to serve in ways that would make a positive difference in people’s lives. As Brian’s faith grew, he began to experience God’s unfolding revelation for what he was supposed to do on this earth: to lead, serve and equip the local church. “For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to do was pastor a church and be a part of building God’s kingdom,” says Brian.  After school, Brian, then 18, went to Bible college and served in the local church wherever he could.  Brian met Bobbie on the beach during a Christian conference and were married in 1977. 

They moved to Australia and pioneered a small church in a coastal area in North Sydney in 1978. Five years later, Brian, then 29, started Hills Christian Life Center in the Castle Hills suburb of Sydney with 70 people in their first service. (They changed their name to Hillsong Church in 1999.) As the church grew, Brian understood that through their music they were able to draw people into church, causing them to look beyond the music to the message of the gospel.  In 1995, Integrity Music from Mobile, Alabama, offered to distribute Hillsong Music in the United States.  One week before the live worship recording, Hillsong’s nationally acclaimed worship leader unexpectedly and abruptly left, virtually overnight.  Not wanting to delay the taping, they scrambled and asked a talented woman on the worship team if she would lead.  That woman, Darlene Zschech, agreed to lead worship that night, something she had never done before.  The album was entitled, Shout to the Lord, named after one of the songs which later became one of the most renowned Christian worship songs around the globe. 


Brian and Bobbie were given the opportunity to take on the leadership of his parents’ inner-city church in Sydney when his father stepped down from ministry in 1999.  Although there are countless models of incredible multi-site churches today, back then it was completely new territory.  “We had no role models to look to for guidance,” says Brian.  “We were pioneers.”  Sixteen years later, City Campus is thriving and an integral part of Hillsong Church.  “Along the way, we have learned a great deal about multi-site expansion and global church planting as Hillsong has spread to some of the world’s most influential cities,” says Brian.  Today Hillsong, affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, has 29 locations across Australia as well as campuses in England, Sweden, South Africa, Spain and other countries.  Hillsong also has churches in Los Angeles and New York City. 

Brian reminds us that all things, including hurtful, confusing, unexpected, shameful things, work together for good.  “In all things, God still has a glorious future in mind,” says Brian, 62. “When you love God, live for Christ and lead by his Spirit, you unleash a glorious future into the present of each and every day.”  Recently, two Hollywood producers attended a Hillsong United concert in the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Both men had a vision to highlight some of the all-time favorite songs from the 30-year Hillsong journey as well as behind-the-scenes insight into the songs, stories and songwriters.  After sharing their vision with the church, they began making Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.  “It was surreal to find ourselves in the offices of Hollywood distributors and financiers over the next few months,” says Brian. The film gives viewers the opportunity to experience the praise and worship God has birthed through Hillsong Church.  “We knew it would be hard work, particularly for the Hillsong United team and their families,” says Brian.  “Yet when all was said and done, we could not pass on the opportunity to point others to the One we live for and long to glorify: Jesus.”  For more information on Hillsong and the upcoming release of the movie, please visit 

The Hillsong story is a miraculous one, but it has not been without bumps in the road.  Brian’s dad, Frank, had always been one of Brian’s heroes.  Some of his childhood memories include going to tent revivals with his dad in New Zealand.  Entire Maori (native New Zealanders) villages were saved as Frank preached the good news of the gospel.  In October 1999, the general manager of Hillsong Chuch, George, was in a meeting with Brian.  He said a call came in that Frank sexually abused a young boy.  “Of all the things George might have told me about my father, this could not have been further from what I had expected to hear,” says Brian.  The thought that his father, who was then in his 70s, would commit such a heinous act was crippling.  As details of the allegations unfolded that day, Brian realized it wasn’t only abuse against another male: it was an underage child.  The incident had happened in New Zealand in the late 60s or early 70s.  “This is not just immoral; it’s criminal,” Brian thought.  “My father had committed pedophilia.”  Little did he know how much worse it would get. 

At the time, Frank had been traveling and came in for what he thought was a routine meeting with his son.  Brian tried to remain calm as he outlined the call they had received.  “How do you talk to your father who is also your hero, about something so horrible?” Brian says.  There was a long pause and Frank confirmed that the accusation Brian confronted him with was true.  As president of their denomination, Brian suspended his father from ministry and asked for his credentials.  Frank never preached again.  At the time, Frank told Brian it had only happened once.  During the next year, more accusations emerged that happened in the same timeframe.  “As painful as it was, and still is, God promised to remain by my side throughout this dark valley of desperate days,” says Brian.  Frank quickly descended into old age as the shame and torment of his dark past over took him.  Five years later, suffering from dementia, and 10 months after Brian’s mother passed, Frank died of an apparent stroke.  “I find myself reliving the realities of that day in 1999 and still dealing with and navigating the effects of such a difficult journey,” says Brian.  “Yet I have learned that when we walk through the valley of the shadow, when we turn a corner and glimpse a difficult path filled with pain and heartache ahead, we can only go forward.” Brian reminds us of Ps 23:6, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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