On Wednesday, the founder of Hillsong Church opened up about criticisms and scandals recently linked to his organization. Brian Houston, in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today” show, answered questions about Hillsong’s disgraced former pastor Carl Lentz as well as the church’s celebrity culture and stance on homosexuality.
Though Houston acknowledged experiencing “a lot of disappointment” and losing sleep during this “difficult” season, he said, “I genuinely believe in my heart Hillsong is a good church.” He adds that he’s “100% committed” to ridding Hillsong’s culture of any type of mistreatment.
Carl Lentz Is a ‘Unique Character,’ Says Hillsong’s Brian Houston
When asked about the November firing of Carl Lentz, the so-called celebrity pastor who’d led Hillsong’s New York City branch, Houston cited “leadership issues that I believe included lying” as well as “narcissistic behavior.” After being fired, Lentz admitted he’d been unfaithful to his wife, Laura.
Houston says he had “concerns and many conversations over the years” with Lentz, but “Carl was Carl. He’s a unique character.” Houston denies suggestions that he and Lentz are similar but indicates that would be a “compliment,” because the former Hillsong pastor is “incredibly gifted.” He adds, “There’s a lot of things I miss about Carl.”
Saying “there’s a lot of things I should’ve known earlier,” Houston maintains that he’s “ultimately responsible” for his church’s leaders and is working to ensure “better accountability” in the future. Although not all the recent negative reports about Hillsong are true, Houston says, he’s “not shrinking back” from areas “where we need to get far better, much better.”