For more than 25 years Donna Crouch has been on staff at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia and is a National Executive member of the ACC. She is passionate about championing the cause of justice and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ through the local church. Donna is married to Stephen and they have three amazing children. We’re excited to have her as a “special guest” this year at Hillsong Conference in Sydney. You can listen to one of her messages here.
1. Where were you born?
2. When did you join Hillsong Church?
September 1983… the 3rd week of our church.
3. What was your first job at Hillsong Church, and how old were you when you took it on? And how has that evolved over the years?
My first job was assistant youth leader to our youth pastor in 1985 – I was 23 years old and it was a dream come true – I wanted nothing more than to be at church working with our young people all the time. After 12 years in youth, I went on to lead our creative ministries for a time, then run our Hills campus and then onto CityCare and working in the community.
4. If you could meet anyone living/dead (minus Jesus), who would it be and what would you ask them?
Some of the ancient women in the early church – Mary, Mary Magdalene, Phoebe — I think I would just sit and listen to them chat.
5. What did you always dream of (as a young girl)?
I dreamed of riding horses and travelling the world.
6. What did you do straight out of high school?
I went to university, where I discovered ancient history and a love for archaeology and worked part time as you do in a supermarket, in a pub and cleaned houses.
7. What do you do today?
I’m a wife and a mum. In my work I build key relationships nationally on behalf of Hillsong. I preach. I’m also on the National executive member of The Australian Christian Churches (ACC)
8. As one of the first females to sit on the ACC national board, what are some personal obstacles you had to overcome in breaking the gender barriers? And did you face any external barriers with the church?
I honestly try not to focus on gender being an issue. Why should it be? Men and women are both equal in God’s plan.
I do focus on my skill set and what I need to learn for the roles and opportunities I have, and work hard to build relationships with the people I am working with. When there is trust and friendship amongst a team, together you can achieve massive wins!
Becoming a director of the ACC has been a massive learning curve and enormous responsibility – learning to be an ‘equal’ with people I have looked up to my whole ministry life has been a new area of growing in confidence. It’s a great team to work with.
That said, it can be awkward when you’re the first woman on a male team, but just get on with the job at hand… you become a team by choice.
When I became a pastor at Hillsong on an all-male team, Pastor Brian made it pretty clear to all of us that we were all equal and a team and didn’t tolerate anyone making an issue about me being single or female. He set the culture from the start 30+ years ago and I am very grateful as it set me up to flourish.
9. How did you first meet your now husband?
Powerhouse Summer Camp 1991. I was the youth pastor – he was volunteering.
10. At what age did you get married?
11. When you first started out in ministry, you were a young, single woman. What tensions did you feel? And what advice would you give someone in that same position today?
All I remember in my early 20’s is this fierce passion in my heart to serve God and I dreamed of being a pastor one day. I didn’t want anything else. As the big 30 was getting closer I did go through a tough time personally. Like, was there something wrong with me? Did He really care about my personal world? What if ministry is a single road for me. It was a challenging and deeply powerful season for me.
My advice to single people would be don’t hold back, chase your dreams, give all of yourself to the call of God on your life. Use your time well, don’t waste it! Make some room for a personal/social life. Get to know people and don’t write people off. Look after yourself and don’t live like you’re ‘second best’ because you’re not, you’re fabulous!
12. What does an ordinary week look like for you?
Meeting with leaders, attending various functions and events – being present and ‘in the room’. Churches do so much of the heavy lifting when it comes to helping people and our communities don’t know what we do or what we’re about. We contribute a lot to our communities and also can learn a lot from other organisations too. When we build relationship and trust its amazing how the chance to partner and work together happens with greater ease. Message prep, research, church mid-week programs like Sisterhood, pastoral appointments.
13. What are 3 things you are most passionate about?
That Stephen & I have ‘Yes Lord!’ in our heart and on our lips always and that we keep discovering Gods call on our lives together.
Passionate to see our children discover ALL that God has planned for them. That Jesus would be proud of our church (Hillsong) and The Church. It’s our watch. May we make Him proud.
14. How does your passion come out in what you do day in and day out?
Having a pioneer spirit, knowing were called to lead, innovate, GO, make the first move. Not getting stuck in management or incremental change. Being bold. Innovating new ways to represent the gospel and the church. But in all of this, it must be help people. People are always the goal, never a step to a goal.
15. What is one way you have seen God do “exceedingly, abundantly, and above all you had hoped for or imagined” – Ephesians 3:20 THERE IS MORE?
When we got married we didn’t know if ministry and business could work together – and He has blessed both. What we are seeing in church is beyond what we ever dreamed possible. And our kids get to grow up in this environment and think its normal. Wow!!!
16. When it comes to LOVE, how can The Church believe/work towards seeing the MORE of God’s LOVE in their cities today?
That if we be known for ANYTHING, that it would be our love in action. Churches that embrace all people and help them discover that there is a better day. Communities where we belong, have genuine friendships. That we keep making room for more – takes big, generous hearted people who won’t settle and get comfortable. Love and respect our community. Know them!