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Hillsong Founders Brian and Bobbie Houston Announce Plans for New Church

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Former Hillsong founder Brian Houston announced that he and his wife Bobbie will launch a new church in 2024.

He broke the news on his X/Twitter account that the two would be “starting a weekly online ministry and church” and that he was “excited about building this new community.”

For Boz Tchividjian, an attorney who represents abuse victims with Boz Law, the announcement is a red flag.

“I’m troubled to learn he’s jumping back into formal ministry,” he said.

Houston resigned as the lead pastor at Hillsong over allegations of inappropriate contact with two women, as well as numerous legal and financial issues.

His church announcement comes just eight months after Australian MP Andrew Wilkie accused Houston of lavish spending and misuse of funds during his time at Hillsong.

Wilkie obtained information from a whistleblower that included 17 binders full of documents that he presented to the Australian Parliament in March of 2023.

This included financial information on the misuse of church funds by the Houston family.

“In 2021, four members of the Houston family and their friends enjoyed a three-day luxury retreat in Cancun, Mexico using $150,000 of church money,” Wilkie told Parliament.

Additionally, in 2020, after a return trip to the United States, the Houstons paid $5,389 in flight upgrades with undisclosed tithe money.

He also noted that Houston “treated private jets like Ubers, again all with church money” and that his wife Bobbie received a $6,500 Cartier watch, and $2,500 worth of Louis Vuitton luggage in the form of gifts from Hillsong.

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The financial accusations surfaced almost a year after an internal Hillsong investigation which found Houston sent inappropriate text messages to a female staff member and spent time alone in a woman’s hotel room after drinking and taking strong anti-anxiety medication. These allegations ultimately led to his resignation in March of 2022.

The resignation and subsequent financial allegations have not appeared to slow Houston’s zeal to continue in ministry. Rather than stepping back or grappling with the scandals plaguing Hillsong, Houston and his wife have continued with various preaching engagements and events.

“We live in an era where we make it far too easy for well known pastors who engage in misconduct to go down the street, or the next state, or next door and open up a new church—some of these guys barely skip a beat,” said Tchividjian.

Amy Stier also notes that this kind of behavior in fallen ministry leaders is not uncommon. Other pastors, like Mark Driscoll, “have gone on and started their own church plants.”

Stier is a practicing attorney in Texas, and prior to that spent the last 10 years conducting independent investigations into faith institutions with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).

In her experience, pastors and institutions showing true repentance “accept the consequences of their actions.” But in accepting those consequences, it might mean “taking themselves out of ministry and making a true apology.”

For her, the biggest red flags in a ministry leader who has faced scandal is someone who displays a lack of repentance, accountability, and believes they are always right.

While Houston has not issued a direct apology to the women involved, he has apologized to his wife publicly. But he has framed what happened at Hillsong as a betrayal. In August of 2022, as a guest preacher at the Seattle megachurch Christian Faith Center, Houston hinted at his hurt over the Hillsong scandals.

“I’ve never been betrayed like this,” he told the Seattle crowd. “I’ve never been spoken about like this. I’ve never been lied about, gossiped about—I’ve never been defrauded like this.”

Houston’s wife Bobbie has posted similar sentiments. She took to social media in December of 2022 in the midst of Houston’s legal battle where he was on trial for failing to report his father’s sexual abuse to police.

“As a wife of near 46 (years) I’m weary of the relentless assault on this man, weary of the unchallenged, uncontained narratives left to fester. I vowed to him last (year) that if no one stands up & vindicates his integrity, character & worth, I will,” she wrote. She also noted that the media coverage of their ministry was “accusatory, cowardly, and appalling” and “modern day persecution.”

Houston was later acquitted, but not before facing one more charge against him for a DUI. He was arrested in California and pleaded guilty in April of 2023.

Currently, he is preparing to launch his church in 2024 and is working on an autobiography.

Main photo: Former Hillsong Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston / Photo courtesy Hillsong Church

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Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs. She is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice.