The global pastor of Hillsong believes they need to “rebuild trust” following a myriad of scandals facing the megachurch.
Speaking on the Australian Christian podcast Hope 103.2 Interviews, Philip Dooley said he understands people’s perception of the church is not “always the greatest” but believes they are “stepping into a new era”.
“We have been through a difficult season,” Pastor Dooley said. “We’ve had quite a bit of media attention and various documentaries and the like so I understand the public perception is not always the greatest. We need to rebuild trust and that's earned.”
He was referring to ‘The Secrets of Hillsong, a documentary featuring several ex-members of the megachurch sharing harrowing allegations about trauma, abuse and financial exploitation. It also included the story of popular Carl Lentz, the former pastor of Hillsong New York who stepped down after admitting to having an extramarital affair.
Dooley and his wife Lucida became the official global pastors of Hillsong church earlier this year after taking up the role as interims in 2022. They were asked to fulfil the role as founder Brian Houston decided to step down in order to time off to stand trial for criminal charges that he allegedly concealed his father’s abuse.
Since taking on the role, Dooley has made a raft of changes to the church’s governance structure, including separating the positions of the lead pastor and chairman of the board, ensuring at least 40 per cent female representation on the church’s global board, as well as a the creation of a new spiritual board.
“We've got a really clear vision,” Dooley continued. “We've got a focus when it comes to our mission. And we've been doing a whole lot even with our governance, refreshing our board and making changes there.”
“So I just want to encourage people and say: ‘Hey, come along and check it out for yourself. And I think you'll experience something that's pretty unique, pretty special’. It's made up of real people, not perfect people, but people who have a genuine love for Jesus and a genuine commitment to building a healthy church and being an expression of the love of Jesus.”
Hillsong’s annual conference will run from 3rd-5th July.