Less than 60 minutes until opening night of Hillsong Conference 2018 in Sydney, and the place is buzzing. Music and excited chatter fill the foyer as the arena doors are swarming with expectant delegates and visitors.
Aside a vintage fob watch and chain, curiously-evocative words are centre to a stage that is about to pulsate with the energy of praise and worship, led by Hillsong UNITED.
With surprising ease, the arena progressively fills.
Outside the forecourt milling with an international, multicultural crowd, staff are on task, the skies are clear and there is a seasonal crispness in the air. Inside, spontaneous Mexican waves work off the energy of the crowd.
The lights fade to black, the opener beings. This year’s opener theme is CREATION.
With breathtaking, other-worldy creativity, the stadium becomes the scene of Genesis 1 as every possible creative medium is employed to transport the crowd to the foundation of time. Sound swells to ear-splitting levels and with a drum smack to black – the arena erupts!
Then UNITED led praise and worship and kicked off with some of their classic songs with JD at the helm.
Joel Houston paused and spoke with the crowd, “The best days are not behind us – the greatest days are ahead. Jesus told a story with His life and God is still telling the story through each of us…”
UNITED’s 20thanniversary was the focus of this year’s honour moment with messages of congratulations from legends like Martin Smith, (Delirious lead singer), Darlene Zschech, Paul Kelly and a thank you to all those who have served with UNITED over the 20 years.
Brian Houston welcomed everyone to conference tagging it with a confronting challenge… “What are you believing for at this conference? Write it down. I believe that God is going to speak to you specifically about that very thing while you are here this week.”
John Gray shared highlights of his journey… in 2009, John came for the first time as a delegate with only $200 in his bank account. He came as a single man and today is married with children and about to take on a church of his own.
Pastor Chris Hodges brought a challenging message inspiring us to dust off our forgotten dreams and believe for “a God-honouring, culture-defying, heaven-impacting, seemingly-impossible dream.”
“8 years later, I’m standing in the place that stood me up – its time for you to dream again.”
The night closed with a praise party with UNITED.
And this is only Day 1 – can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store… THERE IS MORE.