CANBERRA, Australia – This year's annual conference of Australia's most well-known megachurch ended last Friday, with the hope that the theme of social justice was instilled within the delegates as they headed back home.
With more than 26,000 Christians participating in the Hillsong Church conference in Sydney this year, Pastor Brian Houston, the senior pastor at the internationally-known megachurch, hoped the delegates would go back to their local church feeling, refreshed, inspired and full of vision.
"For 21 years, we have aimed to champion the cause of the local church through this conference," he said. "I believe people will go back to their churches refreshed, inspired and full of vision."
Among the topics discussed, speakers at the July 2-6 conference emphasized the importance of passing the baton in the Church.
Speaking on Wednesday, Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of Free Chapel Worship Centre in the United States, said that the body of Christ is currently in a transition period, which is the most dangerous and vulnerable stage for it. The pastor compared this transition to a relay race.
"One runner has to know exactly when to release and the other has to know exactly when to grab hold and catch on. I believe that is exactly where we are in the body of Christ," Franklin said. "The dangerous thing is if the transfer is not made successfully to the next generation, then the people running are disqualified."
If the transition is done well, Hillsong's Houston said the success of this generation would look small compared to the upcoming generation.
Another topic discussed during the five-day gathering was on what Christians can do to reduce the sufferings that plague the world.
In the opening session, Pastor Gary Skinner, the founder of the Watoto Child Care Ministries, said it was a Christian responsibility to take up the task of putting the love of Christ in the heart of a child.
"I believe it's not the responsibility of movie stars or pop idols or the government to care for God's children. It's our responsibility," Skinner said. "While the government might be able to put a little food in their belly and a little bit of education in their brains and a roof over their head and some clothes on their back, there's not a government in the world that can put Christ's love inside the heart of a child and give them dignity and value. Only we can do that. So we must hear God's call and respond in loving and practical ways, and we must do it now."
In addition to the check which was presented to Skinner to help fund his ministry's work in helping children in Africa, more than 1,800 Compassion children were sponsored during the conference.
The conference started on Monday, July 2, and ran until Friday, July 6. There were 69 nations and 19 denominations represented.
The conference concluded with a spectacular worship celebration led by Darlene Zschech, Steve Curtis-Chapman and Israel Houghton.
Christian Post correspondent David Ho in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this article.