"We Need to Rebuild Trust" – Hillsong Conference Gets a Makeover - Hope 103.2

“We Need to Rebuild Trust” – Hillsong Conference Gets a Makeover

Hillsong's Global Senior Pastor says it's time to reorient the intention of their conference and reflect the church’s mission going forward.

By Laura BennettTuesday 27 Jun 2023Hope AfternoonsFaithReading Time: 3 minutes

Running for over 30 years, Hillsong’s annual church conference was a staple in the global Christian calendar for decades. It earned a reputation for being a high-calibre experience with attendees travelling internationally to worship, connect and learn together – at one point selling out Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena for the occasion.

Since the COVID pandemic shutdown and Hillsong’s change of leadership, the scale of the event has changed dramatically but new Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley believes it’s an ideal setting to reorient the intention of the conference and reflect the church’s mission going forward.

Prior to the pandemic “for a lot of the church – I don’t think it was just Hillsong – we became quite event-driven,” Phil told Hope 103.2.

“Even Sunday becomes ‘the event’ and then conferences become ‘the event’ and it’s about how do we get people to come to them?

“What [Lucinda and I] are really shifting to, is wanting to be focused around our mission which we’ve defined around three areas: building healthy church communities, creating significant sustainable social impact and developing purpose-filled Jesus followers.”

Prior to the pandemic “for a lot of the church – I don’t think it was just Hillsong – we became quite event-driven… we are really shifting to… be focused around our mission”.


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With sessions featuring conversations on adaptive leadership, bringing Christ into your career and how to have “health-focused” churches the conference will still have the worship and teaching experiences guests have loved in the past, but have a greater emphasis on practical Christian living.

“We’ve really curated the different options throughout the day to focus on, ‘how do I do what I do better? How do I express my faith and grow and understand the culture I’m in?’,” Phil said.

Held at the Hillsong Convention Centre in Norwest this year, the conference comes at a time where Hillsong has been under intense media scrutiny relating to accusations of sexual abuse in their college, volunteer burnout and former Lead Pastor Brian Houston’s alleged cover up of his father’s historical child abuse.

“We need to rebuild trust, and that’s earned,” Phil said.

“For Lucinda and I stepping into the role of leading our church we feel the wight of that and believe we are stepping into a new era.”

To those uncertain of how to engage with church now – and more specifically Hillsong – Phil said “I’d just encourage people to come along and check it out for yourself”.

“I think you’ll experience something that’s pretty unique, pretty special, [and that’s] made up of real people – not perfect people – but people who have a genuine love for Jesus and a genuine commitment to build a healthy church and to be an expression of the love of Jesus to our world.”

Hillsong Conference will run from July 3-5 at Hillsong Convention Centre.

Listen to the full interview with Phil Dooley in the player above.