Q&A About Hillsong Church
Hillsong is a church that believes in Jesus and loves God and people. We have a heart for authentic worship, are passionate about the local church, and are on a mission to see God’s kingdom established across the earth.
Because growth and increased visibility invariably invites questions, we have developed the following Q&A so that the truth is clear. We hope this helps you to gain a better understanding about the heart of our church and our pastors.
What is Hillsong Church?
We are a Christian church that is a part of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), a movement of 1100 churches and more than 250,000 believers across Australia. We are also connected to tens of thousands of other churches around the world. Hillsong Conference – one of the world’s largest annual Christian gatherings – is attended by people from every denomination including Salvation Army, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, and Pentecostal. For the ACC’s full constitution, history, leadership and statement of belief, please visit www.acc.org.au
Stories about Hillsong Church on ‘A Current Affair’
Over many years, A Current Affair’ (ACA) has waged what we believe to be a dishonest campaign against Hillsong Church. While Hillsong Church – like all churches – is a charity, the premise behind these stories is based on a misrepresentation by confusing a church and a welfare organisation (Public Benevolent Institution – PBI). We note that giving to churches is NOT tax deductible, while giving to PBIs is.
The primary function of Christian churches across the world – regardless of denomination – is to build people’s spiritual lives, and meet the fundamental needs of faith: discipleship, teaching, worship, missions and church planting. On top of these basic spiritual building blocks, Hillsong Church is committed to world class youth and children’s programs, ministries for all ages, pastorally supporting families and marriages, counselling services and hospital support, as well as general pastoral care to thousands within and beyond our church community. Hillsong Church also runs a successful Bible College with over 1500 students attending from all over the world who come to study. The income of the college is invested back into the costs of the college. In order to facilitate these basic church functions, we require facilities, staff, utilities and general administration – like any other church or charity; we would not function without them. These needs are met through the income of Hillsong Church – ALL income of Hillsong Church goes toward the not-for-profit objectives of our ministry, including, but not limited to those mentioned above.
The majority of the media we deal with operate out of an honest quest for the truth and will report factually. However, there will always be a few who choose to sensationalise or even fabricate content in an attempt to get
ratings or push an agenda. On our website we have a MEDIA section where you will often be able to find our perspective on such stories. You can find that at hillsong.com/media-releases.
What about welfare?
On top of these basic church-focused functions, Hillsong Church has a thriving welfare arm that focuses solely ‘outwardly’ to both our local and global communities. The generosity of Hillsong Church parishioners over many years has built schools and homes in Africa, provided anti-retroviral drugs to AIDS patients, sponsored thousands upon thousands of children, rescued and rehabilitated trafficked sex workers, and provided food and education for thousands of less fortunate children in nations such as India and the Philippines. Each week, hundreds of families in Australia are provided with emergency relief services, food and beverages, basic household supplies, and utility vouchers free of charge, from our City Care department. This local arm of our church also provides free counselling to members of the community by qualified individuals.
Our partnerships with such organisations as World Vision Australia (vimeo.com/127437450)
Compassion (vimeo.com/99691683) Mission Australia and the Salvation Army are paramount to our ongoing commitment to the community.
Why do Australian churches not pay tax?
There is no country in the Western world where churches are expected to pay tax on their non-profit objectives and even in predominantly Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist countries, churches are not expected to pay tax – just like temples, mosques, etc.
In many other countries such as the USA, general giving to churches is tax deductible, but that is not so in Australia for general tithes and offerings. In many European countries including Great Britain, a portion of the tax on an individual’s giving is paid back to the church of their choice. That is obviously not the case in Australia.
The result to the community at large of tax exemption for churches is that hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding can be directed towards helping people, including the poor, disenfranchised and hurting.
It should be emphasised that because the general giving of offerings in Australia are not tax deductible, individuals who choose to give to a church have already paid tax on their giving.
Is Hillsong Church financially transparent?
Yes – All our audited financial reports are available on the newly established Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission and are available to the general public on their website as well. Hillsong Church’s financials are submitted to an independent auditor annually (currently Ernst and Young, Sydney). These findings are also reported to the ACNC.
Hillsong is one of the few churches in Australia who do make our audited figures available to the general public via an annual report, which can be picked up in person or downloaded from our website. Please click here for a link to the 2013 Annual Report, a copy of the 2014 Annual report will be made available shortly. /policies/2013-annual-report-australia
Do people have to tithe / give?
The teaching of giving at Hillsong is identical to the teaching of most evangelical Christian churches around the world and across many denominations, as it is based on Scripture. Furthermore, all Christian churches receive financial offerings and rely on these to function.
All giving at Hillsong Church is discretionary and while we believe in the biblical principal of ‘tithing’ (giving a percentage of income to God through the ministry of the local church) no one is told they “have to” tithe, ever pressured to tithe or even to give at all. We call the offering a ‘free will’ offering for a reason – and many people let the offering containers pass them by without contributing anything.
People give because they want to, not because they have to, and anyone has a right to support a church financially if they wish, just as they have a right to give to any other organisation. It is insulting to Christians across the world to suggest they cannot choose to give to their local church.
How Is Hillsong expanding globally?
We believe that the story of Hillsong Church is a remarkable modern day Australian story. We are in awe that God has blessed a local church – birthed in the Hills district of Sydney – to the extent that songs we have written are sung by millions of Christians around the world each week, and tens of thousands of people across the world attend our services.
It is a story of God’s grace and faithfulness that we now have campuses in 15 countries, each one with their own story of local and national impact. We are humbled by the global influence God has granted us.
How is Pastor Brian Houston paid?
Pastor Brian Houston is paid a salary determined by the Hillsong Church board, as are all of our Australian staff. His salary is determined independently – a decision that he is not a part of.
What is Hillsong’s doctrine of beliefs?
Our statement of belief may be found at /what-we-believe.