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Disgraced Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Preaches Against ‘Cancel Culture’ At Seattle Megachurch

By Josh Shepherd
brian houston seattle cancel culture
On August 21, 2022, Brian Houston preaches at Christian Faith Center in Federal Way, Washington. (Video screengrab)

Following his resignation this spring, disgraced Hillsong co-founder Brian Houston has reemerged at an evangelical megachurch—sharing a message that decries “cancel culture” and “social media trolls.”

Preaching at Seattle-area multi-site church Christian Faith Center, in a sermon entitled “A Legacy That Outlasts You,” Houston indirectly addressed the multiple scandals he and his former church are facing.

“Understand, yes, I might dent my legacy,” said Houston. “But that’s not the same as totaling my legacy—being written off . . . The heart of God never cancels people, never writes people off.”

At one point, Houston told a story from his teen years of totaling a vehicle that “was written off,” using that as an analogy.

“People will write people off,” he said. “People are harder on people than God is, by far. Cancel culture will write you off. Maybe social media trolls, if you get any of them—because I get none—they might write you off. But God won’t write you off.”

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With reportedly thousands of members, Christian Faith Center is led by Casey and Wendy Treat, founding pastors and televangelists who have been known as mentors to Houston and his wife, Bobbie. In an Instagram post, Bobbie Houston called the Sunday sermon a “milestone moment for us.”

In March, Brian Houston resigned as senior pastor of Hillsong Church based in Sydney, Australia, after an internal church investigation found he acted inappropriately toward two women. Hillsong revealed that Houston had allegedly spent time alone in a hotel with a woman not his wife and had sent flirtatious texts to a Hillsong staffer.

Houston is also facing charges from Australian authorities that he concealed his late father’s child sex offenses decades ago.

Without giving details, Houston alluded to these scandals in his Sunday sermon. “This is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through,” he said. “I’ve never been betrayed like this. I’ve never been spoken about like this. I’ve never been lied about, gossiped about—I’ve never been defrauded like this.”

The Hillsong co-founder framed these events as obstacles in one’s Christian walk. “We have to decide in life, for the sake of the future, for the sake of legacy, this is only for a while,” he said.

Like Houston, Christian Faith Center has also been embroiled in scandal.

In 2017, a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment was filed against executive pastor Caleb Treat, son of the church’s founding pastors and a graduate of Hillsong College. The church settled the suit a year later for an undisclosed amount.

Churches disaffiliate from Hillsong

Following the scandals and upheaval, several Hillsong church campuses have split from the Australian megachurch. Notably, U.S.-based churches in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Phoenix (along with the latter church’s multiple church plants) have cut ties with Hillsong and rebranded.

Lead pastor Terri Crist of recently relaunched Phoenix megachurch City of Grace alleged in March that Hillsong’s Global Board had exercised heavy-handed control and sought to keep secrets, sometimes by forcing pastors to sign non-disclosure and noncompete agreements. Formerly based at the Arizona church, Hillsong College has since relocated to California near Hillsong Orange County.

Hillsong, a Pentecostal powerhouse, was founded by Houston and his wife, Bobbie, in 1983. The church, which draws a reported 150,000 to services in about 30 locations, has also produced some of the most popular worship songs used in evangelical churches around the world, including “Oceans,” “What a Beautiful Name,” and “Shout to the Lord.”

“This is not the last chapter,” said Houston on Sunday. “This is not the end of the story. The best is yet to come.”

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.



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20 Responses

  1. True, we can always find forgiveness at the Cross but that doesn’t mean we can’t lose positions like being a pastor. Does these guys every go out and get another job like most people? Brian brought these issues upon himself if they are true, no else did. I am going to express my opinion that I believe the whole mega church movement is a cancer on thr body of Christ. These mega churches are constantly in thr news with some sort of scandal, control issue or something similar. Just saying

  2. Once again we see the mega church do what the mega church will do time and time again…choose charisma over character, manipulate scripture to justify sin and give a fallen disgraced, abusive leader a platform to play the victim.

    When will the sickness of celebrity worship end? Guy’s like Houston, Driscoll and the like with continue to live life’s of celebrities but that also comes with the reward of their treasures on Earth. That should shake all of us and bring the pointing finger right back to me. I know it would be easy to fall into this trap given the opportunity. I thank God for a simple life!

  3. The sad and slimey attempt at self rehabilitation of his ministry career has begun
    To frame it as him being the victim of lies and social media persecution when there are literally people who are so damaged because of the complicity and coverup he was a part of is just too rich.
    Theres just no repentance there. Too much at stake to be honest and contrite.
    Casey Treat…what are you doing? Facilitating this charade? Uh…what will it be next?

  4. “The heart of God never cancels people, never writes people off.”

    I think that’s true, but it has nothing to do with Mr. Houston’s situation.

    Is talking about yourself and how everyone is unfair to you that “Bible-based preaching” we’re always hearing about? It seems to be a very common topic for the pastors we read about at The Roys Report.

  5. Sadly, Houston is just a part of a huge line of well known pastors who disqualified themselves from ministry but kept going in defiance of the Word of God.

    I haven’t forgotten Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggert.

  6. I think all of us will have to get ready for the young couple that is taking Rick Warren’s place! The Pastor himself is a piece of work. I’m predicting that Saddleback will have “Buyer’s remorse” very soon!

  7. “How to Spot Cults of Personality
    “Shameless self-promotion: This is perhaps the telltale sign of a personality cult, and it’s usually the easiest to spot. Look at the social media or webpage of the personality or church. Is it filled with photos of the personality on stage and in front of large crowds? Personality cults force your attention onto a single person, and he’s not from Nazareth. Personality cults offer you many opportunities to become a subscriber, follower, or customer. Often this is not evangelism or discipleship, but advertising.
    “Numbers matter most: The number of followers or the amount of money raised is a matter of regular attention and justifies the personality’s work. This many people can’t be wrong, you may be tempted to think.
    “A trail of dissenters: If those who raise questions or concerns are silenced or pushed to the margins, you may be dealing with a personality cult. Cults of personality rally around a single person. Anyone who is not on board—who challenges, disagrees, or dissents—is usually forced out.”—Mark Hampton

    Yes, this person needs to get out of peddling religion and get a real job!

  8. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus told us it is impossible to serve both God and money? You will either love the one and despise the other…

    And isn’t it interesting that Jesus always searched out individuals? He spoke one-on-one with Nicodemus…with the young man born blind…with Peter…

    I agree with Chuck Gordon: “Mega churches” seem destined for failure. The true church, on the other hand, will last forever. Even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

  9. This guy is a total joke ! Only a WOLF like this would have the arrogance and audacity to preach a message that defends him !

    It’s about a Wolf refusing to become a sheep but protests with horrific sin all over his face and goes to compromised so called churches like Seattle to fight for his cause not Christ’s !

    This is a Wolf that refuses to go !

    And what a judgment against all those that welcome this con man back !

  10. Thank you to Josh Shepherd, Julie Roys, and the supporters of the Roys Report for keeping us informed about these activities.

  11. Houston has helped us all to see that his misdeeds are to be understood as merely a dent in his legacy. How generous he is with himself. I would say a dent would be along the lines of saying something stupid or unsound from the pulpit. A dent can be fixed.
    However, covering up sex abuse and hitting on women is not a dent. It amounts to a bent frame. Granted the engine runs and the panels are all smooth and shiny. None the less it is still untrustable for proper alignment and steering.
    However he might be able to make a living selling cars with a “dented legacy”

  12. So disappointing Brian, Did the host church know that this is what he was coming to preach on.
    he should have just preached a regular sermon lifting up Jesus and encourage the people. Don’t allow the flesh to continually rule you, but let the Holy Spirit minister through you.

  13. I have said time and again when persecution of the church becomes stronger in America that sound you hear will be all the money being sucked out of the “mega churches’ operations. It will be either due to inflation or the iradification of tax exempt status, or the simple fact that a lot of people simply will not go to church out of fear of being punished by the goverment or society in general. The underground church in restricted countries face a lot of issues. The mega church, multi site, franchise movement is not one of them. . I receive the Voice of the Martyrs mag. I personally value the testimonies of those dear brothers and sisters way more that say …Brian Houston R. Warren steve feurik and on and on i could go but i think most who post here get it. Later.

  14. “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.”
    Or become an accessory after the fact.
    He sounds like he is running for political office.

  15. When I was in Oxford in 2016 I had a conversation with two ladies about the two nominees for President. They understood the system that led to a wife of a former president getting nominated and her chief opponent getting nominated but they did not understand how a country as big as the United States could come up with these two out of millions and millions of people that were not so offensive and ethically challenged. Are American Protestants so short of people to draw from that they have to invite someone like Brian Houston to preach/talk about himself? All the people that have seminary degrees and have behaved themselves, but are not celebrities – they are not worthy of consideration? Or this just a version of TV networks concerned about ratings?

  16. I’m reminded of that scene in the TV show”Frasier”where Niles tells Frasier that he is working on a case study about a narcissistic soprano. It’s titled “Mememememe”.

  17. Houston says “The heart of God never cancels people, never writes people off.” But does he know that God will send people to hell.

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