Months after resigning as Hillsong global senior pastor, disgraced church founder Brian Houston appeared in an online video yesterday, denying reports he had left Hillsong for alleged misconduct.
Houston’s resignation in March came days after an internal investigation found he had acted inappropriately toward a former Hillsong staffer and another woman connected to the church. A statement from Hillsong’s board linked both alleged incidents to substance abuse.
Houston’s wife, Bobbie Houston, was reportedly removed from any roles at Hillsong in April.
In a video message posted Wednesday, Houston said he offered his resignation from Hillsong not because of his conduct but “because of the announcements and statements that had been made, which Bobbie and I felt made my position untenable.”
Hillsong’s U.S. arm did not immediately reply when The Roys Report (TRR) asked for comment on Houston’s video.
Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Jesus v. Evangelicals: A Biblical Critique of a Wayward Movement” by Constantine Campbell. To donate, click here.
Houston is also facing charges in Australia of failing to report his father’s child sexual abuse to police. He is set to argue his case during a special three-week hearing next month.
Houston responds to alleged misuse of alcohol & other substances
The board’s March statement blamed both incidents of Houston’s alleged misconduct on misuse of medication or alcohol.
In the statement, the board alleged Houston had been drinking alcohol and took more anti-anxiety medication than he was prescribed before entering the hotel room of a woman connected to Hillsong, and spending more than half an hour there, in 2019.
The board also stated Houston had “developed a dependence” on sleeping medication when he sent inappropriate texts to a woman on Hillsong’s staff in 2013.
Houston said in the video Wednesday that Hillsong’s statement about the internal investigation “gave enough detail to allow people’s imaginations to run wild and draw their own conclusions.”
He added he had hoped to remain active at Hillsong as its founding pastor.
Houston went on to say he had apologized for “the specific incidents . . . which were unbecoming for a minister of the Gospel, and for which I’m deeply sorry.”
However, he denied that the incidents indicated a pattern of alcohol or prescription drug abuse.
“The narrative that I’m an alcoholic is false,” Houston said in the video.
He acknowledged he was previously “dependent on sleeping tablets,” but said he has not used sleeping tablets at all for more than a decade.
Houston also said he had taken a double dose of anxiety medication only once—on the evening of the alleged 2019 incident.
“It hadn’t happened before, and it hasn’t happened since,” he said. “So I don’t have an ongoing problem with anti-anxiety tablets or any other prescription medication.”
Houston returns to ministry
Before his resignation, Houston had said he would step back from “all ministry responsibilities” until the end of this year, while his criminal case progressed.
But Houston reemerged in August to preach against “cancel culture” at Christian Faith Center, a megachurch near Seattle.
“I know some people don’t understand why I’m preaching” before year’s end, Houston acknowledged in Wednesday’s video. He said stepping back was Hillsong’s requirement, not his choice, “and of course, sadly, I’m no longer an employee of Hillsong Church.”
He also said he has submitted to unnamed “mature and seasoned spiritual leaders” and is following their advice. Houston did not immediately respond when TRR asked him to name the leaders.
In an interview with Australian media this week, TRR founder Julie Roys noted that the Seattle megachurch where Houston preached in August has likewise been plagued with scandal. The church, which is a member of the Association of Related Churches, settled in 2018 over allegations its executive pastor had sexually harassed multiple women on staff.
“Is it surprising that Brian would end up at this church, looking for a platform to relaunch, and that platform would be a church that’s already somewhat scandal-ridden?” Roys asked.
Hillsong’s giving plummets
Hillsong Global’s latest financial disclosures reportedly show giving has fallen nearly 20% in the last two years. That comes amid scrutiny of Hillsong’s culture overall, after one of its highest-profile pastors, Carl Lentz, was terminated over moral failures in 2020.
Further scandals, including the criminal allegations against Houston, broke the following year.
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.
9 thoughts on “Brian Houston Denies Alleged Misconduct Led to Hillsong Resignation”
Nothing to see here. He is running scared because his millionaire lifestyle is in jeopardy. I read he is having to put his multi million $ homes up for sale. The man is a disgrace. A wolf of the utmost variety and has deceived millions. God will not be mocked.
Wow, right out of the Bill Hybels playbook, ” sleeping meds made me do it ” Do all these mega pastors have a playbook on how to explain away their moral failures? Whatever happened to telling the truth, lamenting, and repenting.
What do we want from leadership? How about no alcohol or drug inspired exploits? Add a life where all your sexual adventures are happening within your own marriage. I’d also be awesome to have leaders who have passion for the Lord and the things of the Lord, instead of the world and the things thereof. Is that too much to ask?
As a school child I learnt to empathise and stand with the child who was down and being kicked, because the playground community had been drawn into that child’s condemnation.
There is then a hint of the anomalous or inconsistent, when it comes to Church resolving of matters of contention. At time the voiced imperative involves taking matters to agencies external to any Church. While at other times an “internal investigation” might be what is relied on.
Regards this instance of Brian Houston, the primary reliance on internal investigating (even useful TRR investigating has an internal aspect across a community of subscribers), inevitably leads to polarised and well-entrenched partisan disagreement.
Without coming down on either side of this particular disagreement about BH, it has to be pointed out that everything this article reports him as claiming, does indeed offer him an (arguably strong) defensible posture and stance (everything we think and understand about “palace coups” open to lending itself; likewise the dynamics between the individual and subgroups within a community). Where, beyond the various perspectives in play across current disagreement, nothing has actually been adjudicated beyond reasonable doubt. Perhaps even the perspectives mediating disagreement, are yet to be fully and safely articulated.
Is he denying that he did the acts being alleged, or is he denying that they should be considered “misconduct”?
“Houston said he offered his resignation from Hillsong not because of his conduct but “because of the announcements and statements that had been made, which Bobbie and I felt made my position untenable.””
“Is he denying that he did the acts being alleged, …?”
No, to me, he is saying that since his “alleged” misconduct is being made public (not whether his “alleged” behavioral misconduct is true), it is not possible to defend himself or save his position/money.
The problems with early Hillsong in Sydney involving Frank Houston, are unimaginably evil.
I have attached a link to a 2017 radio programme ‘Pedos Down Under’ interview with Debra, a mother of children who witnessed horrible crimes involving children under Hillsong precursor church in Sydney.
Interviewer Fiona Barrett was sexually abused by Anthony Kidmam, mother of Nicole. He was later charged and convicted using her evidence.
The audio starts with the incredibly ironic clip of subsequently convicted pedophile Rolf Harris singing ‘My Body’s My Body’ with carefree children singing and dancing ….
The first part of interview introduces Debra’s experiences with her children including early Hillsong then the 49 minute mark talks about Frank Houston. Part 2 and 3 are in firm of discussion between these two women Fiona born again Christian, and their incredible knowledge of evil in churches and institutions in Austraila. The cover image is of 28 VIP convicted pedophiles, including of former prime ministers, whose names have been suppressed for 99 years in 2016 by a former prime minister, lest the public life faith in the institutions of Australia….
Apologies, typos, the names of the 28 plus many more VIP paedophiles has been suppressed for 99 years by a former prime minister ” lest the public lose faith in the instructions of Austraila” .
Investigators didn’t accuse Brian Houston of being an “alcoholic”. They said he was drunk. Houston’s use of “alcoholic” was either a distraction or a Freudian slip.
The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
Comments are limited to 300 words.