Will Los Angeles-Area Churches Be ‘Swallowed Whole’ When Hillsong Arrives?


Despite assurances from Ben Houston that the Hillsong LA church he feels called to plant in Southern California will not “build on anyone else’s foundation,” some observers are concerned that the popular Australian megachurch’s expansion to the Golden State could mean a substantial loss of members for already-established churches in the area.

Hillsong Church founder and Senior Pastor Brian Houston shared in a blog post earlier this month, after making the announcement during weekend services, that his son, Ben, would be moving with his wife and three daughters at some point to begin tilling the ground for a new church plant. The ministry’s only U.S. congregation is in NYC, led by Pastors Carl Lentz and Joel Houston, the the founding pastor’s other son.

“I know there are a lot of questions out there after the announcement, but the truth is we don’t really have the answers yet!” wrote Ben Houston in an update on the church startup. “We are still in the very early stages of planning. There is a stack of paperwork and immigration issues to sort through; and a lot to wrap up here in Sydney before we embark on this incredible journey.”

Among the few questions left in response to Houston’s update was one from a visitor named Jenna Thompson, who voiced concerns about the potential negative effects of a Hillsong Church in Los Angeles.

“There are plenty of churches in the Orange and Los Angeles Counties that will be swallowed whole when Hillsong LA arrives,” she wrote. “There are jobs that will be lost and pastors who will see their congregations dwindle. There are also plenty of larger churches as well [whose] pastors have spoken at your conferences, supported your endeavors and welcomed your church’s presence as a visit from overseas, all who will now see you as an unwanted threat.”

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