If I heard Brian Houston say it once, he must have said it a dozen times: “Church is about God and people.” In everything Hillsong does, you can sense their genuine hunger for God and love for people.
Even though their church is the largest church in Australia, it seemed small because of their relational emphasis. At each service, they took time to read prayer requests and praise reports. This helped engage the church members in prayer and encouraged them to keep a ministry focus. The campus pastors (or stage leaders) would also highlight when key volunteers got engaged or had a baby.
This relational focus bled over into the conference. Each day, the leaders highlighted a “delegate of the day.” The staff would choose someone from the 20,000 attending and set them up front in a lounge chair, fed them, and highlighted them to the whole crowd. Some how this gesture made the conference seem smaller.
Most of all, I was blessed by the intimacy fostered between the speakers and key leaders. In the U.S., at most conferences, speakers fly in and out and aren’t expected to do much else.
At Hillsong, even though no one requested it, all the speakers and their families attended all the main sessions. Between and after each session, everyone gathered for extended meals. Even though we were exhausted and jet lagged, this wasn’t a burden. It was deeply meaningful and obviously a significant part of the culture.