Leadership Lessons from Hillsong Church

February 9, 2014 | Posted in Faith, Leadership | By

This past week I traveled to Sydney, Australia to visit Hillsong Church and Hillsong International Leadership College. For those of you who are not familiar with Hillsong Church, they are a mega-church with 12 campuses throughout Australia and 13 international church locations throughout the world, with over 30,000 people attending service each week.

Out of Hillsong Church we have seen Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, and most recently Hillsong Young & Free emerge as some of the most influential Christian worship bands today. If you would like to see more, take a moment to watch the video “Awake” from Hillsong Young & Free here (or click on the image below):

Hillsong Young & Free

Each year all Hillsong Church locations come together for Vision Sunday, which is a special time over three days to share the “vision” of what God is doing with Hillsong Church. The theme of this year’s vision Sunday was “Pioneer Again”. Hillsong Church continues to be committed to changing, moving forward, and keeping the pioneering spirit alive. They shared future plans for growing the church and are continuing to develop other global campuses. It truly is amazing to see what God is doing at Hillsong Church!

From my trip, I have been overwhelmed and greatly encouraged and wanted to share a few observations from my trip that have application for leadership:

1)    Relationships Matter – As you walk in the front door of each Hillsong location, you will notice the words “Welcome Home” over the entry way.

Hillsong calls themselves a “large church” with a “small community”, emphasizing relationships and family. Over and over again I heard that relationships matter at Hillsong Church. Well, they live this in each and every part of their Church and College. Walking into the various church and college locations at Hillsong, I felt a real sense of community and closeness.

As an organizational leader, I see the powerful importance for establishing and building an environment where relationships flourish and people feel welcome, comfortable and encouraged.

On a side note, one of the things I’ve learned about the Australia is that “sarcasm” is really seen as a “love language” here. If someone gives you a “hard time” in public it really communicates that they like you and have a friendship with you.

2)    Culture is Critical – Hillsong is not something you are taught, it’s something that is caught.

There is a strong sense of culture and identity at Hillsong. Just as relationships are important, having an empowering culture for a church, company, or organization is critical. Throughout the week I noticed how people “fall in love” with what is happening at Hillsong Church. There is a connection of culture to timeless value and vision which makes this place attractive, exciting and transformational for those who are there.

3)    Visionary Leadership – Senior Pastor Brian Houston communicates vision constantly to Hillsong Church and the Leadership College.

Having heard Senior Pastor Brian Houston multiple times this past week I noticed a few important trends. First, Jesus Christ is proclaimed and given glory in each and every sermon or speech he gives. Second, Pastor Brian speaks with powerful vision. Those that work closely alongside him describe Pastor Brian as a “visionary leader”.

Visionary leaders are uncommon, but they share many characteristics.  The qualities of visionary leaders include openness, imagination, persistence, and conviction.

I was told once that “Vision” is putting dreams into action. Vision enables followers to feel and see where they are going and actually visualize themselves as being there. Vision is a powerful motivator and enables people to grow, achieve and transform into great things!

4)    A Sense of Destiny and Purpose – What God has put in you is far too important to keep it inside and not use it.

I heard comments like this throughout this entire last week at Hillsong Church. As I continually study leadership and observe organizations where great things are happening, I keep seeing this idea of “purpose” and “meaning”. I do not believe this is coincidence, but rather it is a building block for God to build upon and use in us to do extraordinary things.

God has given us each a purpose in this life. We each have meaning and value while we are here on earth. As a student, working professional, family member, or friend, we each have so much talent, so many skills and unique abilities. Use them for a life of purpose and impact on others. Realize that God has a hope and a future for each of us!

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