More than 20,000 “fun, funky and young” evangelicals gathered under the Sydney Superdome every day this week for a vibrant celebration of life, music, passion and above all else – Christ, during the 19th annual Hillsong Conference.
The Hillsong church is a youthful phenomenon that is sweeping the land down with the culture of Christ. Each week, the Pentecostal church attracts some 16,000 attendees and averages $1 million in offerings only. The church also offers a performing arts academy, music college and evening classes in TV and media, providing training that goes beyond traditional Bible colleges.
In addition, Hillsong’s founders Bobbie and Brian Houston have written several top selling books, while its worship leaders Darlene and Mark Zchech have penned world-renown praise songs such as “shout to the Lord”.
What’s more, most of the congregants to the Australian church are less than half the age of traditional churchgoers.
It’s this vibrancy that attracts the youth, and the celebration of life that stirs the passion.
"I do believe church is to be enjoyed, not endured," founder Brian Houston said. "Christians are on Earth to make a difference, to try to inspire people to be enlarged in every area in life – so they can make a difference.”
Meanwhile, at this year’s conference, which ended on July 9, much of the focus was placed on protecting and maintaining marriage.
'Marriage can be better than you thought'. 'It takes as much work to finalize a divorce as it does to heal and re-build a marriage… so why not rebuild your marriage!” exclaimed Allan & Helen Meyer, coordinators of the Careforce life Keys marriage program in Hillsong.
'One of the reasons that many people won't really work on their marriage, is they are asking the question 'What if I married the wrong person? Even Christians are asking this question!” they said.
'Marriage is like a house. And like scripture says, unless the Lord builds the house, it is built in vain.'
They then explained that much of what is required in marriage is already found in the Ten Commandments.
“We are created in God's image. The same thing God is looking for in His 'Bride' is the same thing that we are looking for!” they said.
“Marriage was never intended to make you happy! It was intended to change you and give you a greater understanding of what true intimacy requires,” Allen said.
Allen encouraged people to work at their marriages. 'You have to have the courage to experience the pain that comes with the healing.'
They concluded their session with a testimony of their own successful marriage.
“After 36 years of marriage, we still really like each other! We and our children are beneficiaries of this!”