Hillsong’s Joel Houston declares worship is a believer's response when their 'world is falling apart'

Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin perform in Orlando, Florida, on April 10, 2022.
Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin perform in Orlando, Florida, on April 10, 2022. | Courtesy of Nolan Knight

ORLANDO, Fla. — Performing on tour with Chris Tomlin, Joel Houston said he and Hillsong United would continue to praise God in the midst of the controversies surrounding his father and the Australia-based global church network. 

The Platinum-selling Christian worship band performed at Amway Center on Saturday, where between sets, Houston told the packed crowd of 20,000 that as he gets older, "It's funny the things you don't care about anymore and the things that just start ripping your heart out the best kind of way," declaring this as a testament to "how good God is.”

“It's the simple things, just the thought that God is the same yesterday, today and forever,” he added. 

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“He (God) doesn't change. We change; the world changes. Everything falls apart. Yet God is still the same and He always will be. He doesn't decide to change His mind on certain things."

Joel Houston's father, Brain Houston, who co-founded Hillsong in 1983, resigned as the global leader last month after it was revealed that two women had made allegations of misconduct against him in the last 10 years. His resignation also followed a series of misconduct scandals involving other Hillsong Church leaders in the U.S. and Australia. 

The global network of churches has also been the focus of documentaries that rehashed some of the misdeeds of church leaders that were brought to light in recent years. 

Comprised of members from both the U.S. and Australia, the Tomlin United Tour is the first time the band has been on the road together since 2020.

"The world was a very different place back then," Joel Houston told fans in the audience. "God was the same then as He is now. For everyone, in some way, the last couple of years has been real tricky.”

The worship leader revealed that the tour had been postponed four or five times, but added that he knows everyone came together during this time for a reason. 

"A couple of weeks ago, we weren't sure that we were gonna be here tonight,” Houston said. “There were some voices in our world saying, 'Hey, now's not the right time.' We thought about it. We talked about it. We prayed about it.

“If this was just about promoting something, or if it was just about going on tour for some reputational reason or to turn a buck or whatever reason, then maybe this wouldn't be a good time for us to be on tour,” he added. “But it's never been about that for us."

He continued: “If worship was only about the mountaintops, then yeah, this wouldn't be a good time for us. One thing I'm certain of is that worship is not reserved for the mountaintop. Worship is our response in the valleys. Worship is our response in the trenches. Worship is our response when the whole world is falling apart. Worship is our response when there's nothing else to hang on to. Worship is our response in the fire.” 

The “Oceans” musician then preached about God's faithfulness.

“The truth is, there is a God who is and will be forever faithful, and His grace is always good," Houston maintained. "He doesn't flinch when the world falls apart. He's not shocked by anything that might shock us. He's had a plan all the way through, and He continues to make a way. He's always redemptive. He's always reconciling. He's always restoring. There is power in coming to Him from whatever background, whatever is going on in our world, wherever we are.” 

Houston said his message was directed at anyone hurting, adding that one thing remains true, and that is the love of God. 

"Tonight, we're gonna worship Jesus because He deserves it,” Houston declared. "There is nothing else in this world that even compares to what happens when people gather under the name of Jesus. ... [Let's] lift our eyes off the things of this world and focus on Him and allow the Spirit of God to move in and through us because of Jesus.

“Because everything that can shake will be shaken," he continued. "So let's not be surprised when the world falls apart around and about us. Let's remember who it is that we stand on. [It's] Christ who was crucified for our sin and who is now resurrected and exalted.”

The singer concluded by assuring the audience that God is who Hillsong United is placing their hope in despite what is going on. 

“That's the only hope for this entire planet. And tonight, we get to celebrate together that God is that good in the midst of all the madness. He's able to meet with every single one of us in the most unique and personal way, and that's what we're going after and that's why we're here,” Houston said.

Earlier this month, a separate Hillsong band, Hillsong Worship, announced that they were pulling out of their nationwide tour with Casting Crowns to take time to “heal.”

Hillsong Church interim global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley recently addressed the negative attention surrounding the church network and said it paints an unfair picture of their ministry. He assured that despite the scandals, the church does a lot of good in the world and “never claimed to be a perfect church.” 

Dooley, who has been a part of Hillsong Church for over 30 years, also acknowledged that he was saddened by the experiences of some of the church leaders' alleged victims.

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