Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston Hammered With Questions About Sex Abuse, Homosexuality, Finances at Start of NYC Conference

What Does Hillsong Church Do With Its Money?

The Hillsong Church leaders were also pressed by the Religion News Service to share how they reconcile the ministry's presumed riches with "preaching the message of a messiah who came to preach good news for the poor."

HIllsong NYC's Lentz was quick to respond, and challenged the notion that the conference kicking off that night in a city marked by "crushing poverty" would be "raking in millions of dollars," as it was put by RNS. The Christian Post was unable to confirm ticket prices for the Hillsong Conference in NYC this year, but prices for the October 2013 Hillsong Conference in Los Angeles ranged from $129 to $189.

Lentz insisted that Hillsong preaches "good news to the poor every week" and would be doing the same at the conference. He and Hillsong NYC co-pastor Joel Houston went on to insist that whatever money was gained by the church "goes back into the house," to cover rent expenses for worship spaces, local and international outreach, staff salaries, and the like. In its 2012 Annual Report available online, Hillsong Church listed its total accumulated funds as $13,168,677. In its financial charter, also available online, the megachurch states that it "subscribes to a high standard of accountability and stewardship," and that members were "welcome to make an appointment to inspect the audited financial results of the church."

Listen to the audio player below to hear Lentz, Brian Houston, and Joel Houston (and Lentz again) respond to questions about how Hillsong uses its income from tithes and offerings, record sales, conference ticket sales, and other avenues.

Hillsong Church was founded by Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston as a Sunday night outreach in 1983, beginning with 70 members. The Pentecostal ministry, which has numerous extension services in Australia and 12 campuses in Europe, Africa, and the U.S. listed on its website, welcomes an estimated 30,000 worshippers weekly. While long a powerhouse in its native country, the ministry has gained a global following more recently through its worship music produced under the Hillsong United, Hillsong Young and Free and Hillsong Worship teams.

The annual Hillsong Conference, which includes gatherings in London and Sydney, was held for the first time in the United States in 2013 in both New York City and Los Angeles. This year's New York City conference sold out weeks before it was to start, and saw about 5,300 attendees gather on opening night, according to a Hillsong Church representative.

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