It’s long been reported about the fruit of false doctrine here at Church Watch Central – in particular, the many scandals coming out of Hillsong. Roxanne Stone from ‘The Roys Report’ brings the latest update on the ongoing Carl Lentz ‘affair’. Roxanne states:
“Brian Houston, global senior pastor of the international Hillsong Church, announced today that an independent investigator will review the “inner workings” of Hillsong’s New York City branch after the firing of its lead pastor, Carl Lentz, on Nov. 4.”
It’s interesting to note the comments attached to articles like this, where we often find where the truth really lies:
“This whole saga is another reason not to start, join or promote churches with multi-site models and/or that don’t have real elder accountability. They often lead to a cult of celebrity and a complete lack of accountability. Same thing for ministries like that of Ravi Zacharias, where his family members were highly paid board members and “surprisingly” didn’t hold him accountable.” (link)
I’m so tired of powerful men and the way they twist language to cover up sin. And then afterwards, when it all comes out, they distance themselves from the sinner and offer trite apology to those who they slammed and shamed for speaking out in the beginning. Just so tired.
I’m a pastors wife who has just been through an excruciating six months involving the fallout of sin of the senior pastor. It has been horrendous. The Turner/Brukas interviews this year were awful and too close to home. Someone close to me interned at Mars Hill years ago and was subject to bullying back then when he tried to call something out. There was such a culture of power and control. We’ve all read stories about Mars Hill from that time. And yet they said “People are being saved regardless so they must be doing something right. Who are we to judge?”
Yes, God is bigger than the sin of a pastor who is cheating on his wife, thankfully. The word preached might come from a rotten source but if it is still God’s word, then people can respond, repent and believe. But oh, for the believers behind the scenes who know the sin that is going on in the background, it is just so devastating. And every time another pastor is found out, especially one who used his power and the people at the top to protect him, it is like living through it again.
So another example happens – Ravi. And now Carl Lentz. It is like a punch in the guts. I never esteemed Lentz. We visited HS NYC once. The congregation members were lovely and welcoming and kind. The worship was great. The guy on the stage, Kane, was a showman and didn’t mention Jesus once in his 30 min ‘comedy routine’. We left after an hour and a half. But there were good, Jesus loving people there.
I’ve never been able to understand how Brian Houston has justified Esther Houston’s behaviour and posts. Bizarre. (CWC links added for context.) And while I found Joel’s worship music pointed me to God, I still found it hard to fathom their relationship. Pastors need to smell like their sheep, but if you become so like the world to reach the world that there is nothing left of the goodness and beauty and truth of Jesus…
And so I don’t think we can let this one go through to the keeper. Because not only does it grieve our God, damage the church, affect the faithful congregation members who have put up or excused or justified behaviour and practices in the past (despite deep down feeling it was wrong), tarnish the image of the church to the world, cause people considering Christ to walk away and provide more fodder for an unbelieving world. But for every pastor or their family who has spoken out, and been hushed or told to trust the system or let down when sin is not dealt with, it is another blow to a weary servant who might just eventually walk away from his call to share the gospel and love and serve and make Jesus known.
So ask the questions. Here are some questions for an independent investigation:
1. Brian Houston and Joel Houston did you know that Carl had been unfaithful earlier (Caryl Hesler on Twitter suggests as early as 2014, others have said 2017)
2. If yes, did you allow this man to keep his pulpit and not be removed from ministry for at least a period of discipline and restoration?
3. How many people came forward with allegations or were uncomfortable and were silenced? In an effort to ensure transparency will you allow them to share their stories?
4. Why did Joel and Esther Houston leave NYC and go to LA? Was it because they had spoken out about Lentz’s behaviour?
5. Will Hillsong’s finances be made available for review and audit at a top level and for every campus, including staff salaries? Other churches do this as part of the AGM. If not, why not? (link)
What does scripture have to say?
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
Hillsong Announces Investigation Following Carl Lentz’s Firing; Source Says Church Knew of Sexual Transgressions in 2017
Roxanne Stone writes:
Brian Houston, global senior pastor of the international Hillsong Church, announced today that an independent investigator will review the “inner workings” of Hillsong’s New York City branch after the firing of its lead pastor, Carl Lentz, on Nov. 4.
“We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning,” Houston said in a tweet, adding, “The best is yet to come.”
On Nov. 4, Houston emailed staff and members of Hillsong East Coast about Lentz’s termination. His email, which was obtained by The Roys Report, cited “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures” for Lentz’s firing but did not reveal more details, saying to do so “would not be appropriate.” He later posted a similar statement on the church’s website.
The following day, Lentz, who founded the New York Hillsong location in 2010 with Houston’s son Joel, admitted in an Instagram post that he’d been “unfaithful to my wife.”
Lentz’s confession was accompanied by a photo of Lentz with his wife and three children. “I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need,” Lentz wrote.
According to Boz Tchividjian, a former prosecutor and founder of GRACE, an organization that works with churches to investigate abuse, he and an unnamed source reported sexual transgressions to Hillsong in 2017, but were rebuffed. “There have been many sexual transgressions at Hillsong NYC,” Tchividjian said. “We tried to address them in 2017 and we were told that we were spreading gossip.’”
Tchividjian added, “This is a common & effective method leaders use to shame victims into silence in order to protect offenders & institutional reputations.”
Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie founded the original Hillsong Church in 1983 in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. It now has locations in 28 countries around the world and, pre-pandemic, saw an average 150,000 attenders each week, according to its website.
The various global churches all report to Houston and a board of male elders.
Relatively unknown before taking the helm of Hillsong NYC, Lentz became a media darling for his hipster clothes, tattooed arms and his celebrity congregants, including Justin Bieber and his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, as well as the Jenner sisters. He was one of a number of pastors GQ Magazine has described as “hypepriests” who lead churches frequented by celebrities.
In answer to Lentz’s Instagram post, Esther Houston, Joel Houston’s wife, implied that, despite his admission, Lentz had not stopped the affair that led to his dismissal.
“Amazing to see all the support being poured out for this despicable ongoing behavior,” she said in the comment. “Listen. I’m not gonna play this game. I fully denounce this and will make no excuses for it. You’ve been dealt a good hand, and you played it wrong.”
The British tabloid The Sun has reported that Lentz posed as a sports agent when he met a 34-year old designer, who identified herself only as Ranin, in a Brooklyn, New York, park. Ranin told The Sun she had been having an affair with the pastor for the past five months.
Ranin said after a few dates, she began to suspect he was married and asked. At that point, he admitted he had three children and had been married for 17 years. She later used his phone number to find out his last name and, at that point, discovered he was a pastor.
“My mind was blown,” she told the tabloid.
Ranin said Lentz told her that when he first saw her, “God told him to tell me that I need to know my worth and there’s something special about me … whatever whatever.”
According to Ranin, the two broke up last week. She said Lentz’s wife discovered their text messages on his computer at the Hillsong offices, with several of his coworkers there.
Lentz met his wife, Laura, a family friend of the Houston’s, in Australia when he attended Hillsong’s training program, Hillsong College. It is unclear whether she will remain in her position at Hillsong NYC, though some reports have said that she has also been let go.
In a brief appearance at Hillsong NYC’s Sunday streaming service, Brian Houston expressed gratitude for the team of leaders at the Manhattan church and said they were not only supportive of the decisions made, “but were part of the process.”
Houston also noted that during transitions, “It’s always a time where there’s speculation, rumor and gossip when change is made, and especially when radical change is made.”
“There’s great days ahead,” Houston assured the church. “We will continue to stay in touch when it comes to the long-term leadership of Hillsong East Coast.”
Neither Hillsong NYC nor Hillsong Global immediately responded to request for comment.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Source: Roxanne Stone, ‘The Roys report’, https://julieroys.com/hillsong-investigation-lentzs-firing/?fbclid=IwAR1LvGC19u2tNjCNx6ddPt-sh4VmZoBeFViQDKEcXCZGzJWd96dmJ3Jn4nU Published November 12, 2020. (Accessed November 13, 2020.)
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