Bobbie Houston is one of the most well-known names in the evangelical world.
The senior pastor and co-founder of Australia-based megachurch, Hillsong, recently spoke with Faithwire about navigating life challenges and women holding leadership positions in the church.
In Houston’s latest book: Stay The Path: Navigating the Challenges and Wonder of Life, Love, and Leadership, she thoughtfully articulates how all three are intertwined.
In her official capacity, Houston said, she and her husband Brian have been ministers for 40 years, 30 of which involved leading Hillsong and helping the Australian megachurch grow.
Since its founding, Hillsong church has expanded beyond what anyone could have predicted. According to its website, today there are not only branches all over Australia, but also in major cities like London, Los Angeles and New York.
In an attempt to bring more young people into their pews, many churches are attempting to replicate the Hillsong expansion strategy. Multiple media outlets have also commented on the church’s celebrity following. The list of big names includes Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin and Vanessa Hudgens.
Houston told Faithwire she truly believes that her church’s triumph is based on her and her husband’s desire to follow the path God placed before them, a destiny that they believe every person is called to pursue. The advice she offers in her new novel is based on this principle, as well as the concept that “life is a journey.”
“Over 40 years or so, [my husband and I] have done a little bit of life, a little bit of journey in that sense… ,” she said. “Along the path … the thing that I think is interchangeable is Biblical truth, God’s truth and wisdom.”
Houston noted that in life, “sometimes we feel like just sitting down, sometimes obstacles will come and … and knock you off course.” In this book, she encourages readers to follow “the dreams God put in [their] heart[s].”
Houston told Faithwire that she believes every individual is meant to serve in a leadership role. As a lead global pastor, she has traveled the world lifting women up through sermons and conferences. Houston is best known for the Colour conference and the Sisterhood Foundation.
Every year, Houston tours the world with other women to talk about important cultural topics and faith. The Colour Sisterhood Foundation is an extension of that mission. According to its website, the foundation is made up of everyday women who want to make the world a better place by exchanging ideas with one another.
Houston explained that her latest book takes this concept one step further. She said that her goal with her second novel is to encourage women and men to lead in their spiritual, personal and professional lives.
In terms of spiritual life, Houston said that she’s wants to see women have a more pronounced role in the church. The role of women in church leadership has been debated for millennia, but Houston strongly believes that women are all ordained to serve in this capacity.
“If we go back to the beginnings and origins [of time], God created us male and female in the beginning … and He spoke of … both men and women together,” she told Faithwire.
“And, I think, down through history, down through culture, and down through hurdles of time, the truth of God’s true intent has been distorted,” she continued. “And sometimes that comes from cultural complexities, and sometimes that comes from religious complexities. The point is that [when] Christ came, he did an amazing intervention for humanity. He actually came … to redeem life as the Father intended. In our [church’s] experience, [women in leadership] doesn’t have to be an issue.”
As Faithwire previously reported, a recently released Barna poll found that the vast majority of Americans — 79 percent — are comfortable with female priests or pastors. But among evangelicals, who tend to have what the Barna Group called “a more traditional interpretation of the scriptures,” just 39 percent expressed comfortability with female preachers.
Another somewhat shocking result from that poll is that 80 percent of Catholics are comfortable with female priests and pastors, a proportion that is higher than the 74 percent of Protestants who said the same; the Catholic Church does not allow female priests.
Other sources like Christianity Today seem to think that there is a neglected history about women in the church.
“A number of prominent leaders, scholars, and benefactors of the early church were women and — despite neglect by many modern historians — the diligent researcher can still uncover a rich history,” the outlet reported. “One of the best-kept secrets in Christianity is the enormous role that women played in the early church.”
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