Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick preached at a Hillsong Conference in Sydney for the first time on Tuesday, telling thousands of people in attendance and an online audience that God doesn't need anyone to "feel ready" to answer their calling.
"Abraham wasn't ready. Moses wasn't ready … The disciples were never ready and they never got it. Even when they got it they still didn't get it … each time they were ready they started to doubt because their faith was in their readiness," said Furtick, referring to people and stories in the Bible that included reluctant participants in God's plans.
"I certainly wasn't ready when I was 16 years old and God saved me."
Furtick spoke on the second day of the five-day conference that began Monday. In the last 25 years, Hillsong Conference leaders say their main focus has been to "create a place for people of all ages who are passionate about their local church and to empower them with purpose for the Kingdom of God."
The 32-year-old pastor, who leads the Charlotte, N.C., church of more than 10,000 members, said it was one sentence from the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, that gave him the inspiration to start a church.
"The sentence was 'I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without God moving greatly on our behalf,'" Furtick said. "The Lord used that one sentence because when the word of the Lord comes to you like it came to Jeremiah, it doesn't have to say much to do a lot. In one sentence God put a desire in my heart – 'one day you're going to start a big church to reach a lot of people who are far from God in a big city somewhere in the United States of America.'"
He continued, "I've never been ready. I wasn't ready when we started the church. I didn't feel ready when the church started to grow, thousands of people were coming to Christ, but the church got bigger than the town I grew up in. I wasn't ready for that."
However, in his own life and in other people's lives, Furtick said he believes God isn't concerned about one's readiness.
"Since God doesn't need you to feel ready – news flash – He just wants you to obey and follow Him. God doesn't need you to feel ready for what He's calling you to do," he explained.
Furtick then began to describe the justifications for those who are held back in their lives because of "not being ready."
"I know you got that one sin you can't get over. You'll be ready when you conquer that. No. I know you got that debt that you're going to pay down that will take you about four years, then you will be ready for generosity. You'll be able to speak into someone else's life when you know more of the Bible. You'll be ready to make a difference in your community when your church has more resources, more instruments, and more musicians… and [then] you'll be ready," he said. "But God doesn't call me to feel ready. He calls me to follow Him. Step out. Have faith. Move forward."
Furtick said people can move forward with what God has in store for them by not living to "be impressive." He compared how some people may feel with those auditioning for the TV show "The Voice."
"Cancel the audition, you've already got the part. A lot of people spend their whole lives waiting on somebody to hit a button, turn around, and choose them," he said. "A lot of believers spend their whole walk with God performing, trying out, feeling bad, waiting on God to hit a button and turn around and say now He loves you. God said before you were born 'I chose you.'"
Other guest speakers at the conference include Joyce Meyer, Louie Giglio, and Joseph Prince. Guest worship leaders include Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. The Hillsong team is composed of Brian Houston, Bobbie Houston, Joel Houston, Reuben Morgan, Joel A'Bell, and Julia A'Bell.
Hillsong Conference 2012 will be heading to Europe with conferences planned in the Netherlands and Sweden in October.
Parts of the conference from Sydney, including evening sessions, is being livestreamed online here: backstage.hillsongconference.com.