As promised, here is a full recap of my experience at Hillsong Conference Sydney. The conference was held at the Olympic Park (from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games) which was about a 30-40 minute commute from Bondi.
The gathering was three and half days, Tuesday evening through Friday evening. Full days were from 9:30am - 9:00pm with a 3 hour break from 3:00pm - 6:00pm:. Speakers included Steven Furtick, Casey Treat, Erwin McManus, Carl Lentz, Christine Caine, and Brian and Bobbie Houston (Hillsong Senior Pastors).
There were also break-out sessions on Days 3 and 4 with various leaders on several topics ranging from Youth and worship ministry to business leadership to evangelism.
It would take way too long to recap every session so i'm only going to share my favorites.
Favorite Speaker: Erwin McManus
Erwin was phenomenal. My favorite sermon of his was preached from Matt 20:29-34. In the story Jesus asked two blind men, “what do you want me to do for you?”.
Erwin continued by illustrating how this is still God's question to us, yet our responses can be less than faith-filled. We often pray small prayers because we fear if we ask Him to do more we will be disappointed.
My biggest takeaway: Our prayers reveal the size of our faith. We have to be people who dream God-sized dreams and believe that God can not only meet those dreams but exceed them.
Favorite Session: Spheres
Spheres was innovative. It consisted of multiple guests speakers, maybe about 10 or so, who spoke for five minutes each one after another. Each shared a part of their testimony then told how it's affected the way they live out their faith in their sphere of life. We heard from entertainers, educators, athletes, business-people, and pastors.
For me this session was particularly impactful because it showed me how people in varoius vocations practically make a difference for the Kingdom and bring glory to God. Whether it’s by starting a non-profit that benefits children in Africa, staying committed to honest business practices,or explicitly sharing the gospel with a classroom of students - it's clear that our sphere is our platform to live out the great commission.
Breakout Sessions Attended:
Carl Lentz -
I stood outside in the rain and listened to this session because the tent could only accommodate 1000 people. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. Carl was accompanied by Rich Wilkerson Jr (Vous Church) and Joel A'bell (Hillsong Church). The topic was "Moments". Carl discussed how to make the most of everyday moments when it comes to sharing and living out your faith.
My biggest takeaway - We don't need to wait for a sign from heaven or a vision from God to share our faith. Like myself, Carl Lentz is an introvert. Our nature can be to keep to ourselves and that can hinder us from sharing the gospel. But as followers of Jesus Christ our life is no longer our own and we need to lay down our own preferences (ex: not talking to strangers) and follow the great commission. Not some day or tomorrow, we need to start now and make the most of today.
Brian and Jenn Johnson -
This session stated with powerful worship. Afterwards, the Johnson's sat down on stage and talked about their life. They shared a little bit of everything – how they met and started dating, how they raise their children to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and use their spiritual gifts, as well as struggles they’ve had both personally and in their marriage.
Their openness to share their struggles, especially as pastors, was encouraging. It’s a great reminder that our testimonies can bring light to another’s situation which is why we shouldn’t keep them to ourselves.
Worship was incredible. All sessions were led by Hillsong Worship, United, or Young and Free with the exception of the Friday morning session which was led by Jenn and Brain Johnson from Bethel Church.
The Holy Spirit was so tangible during these sessions. Being surrounded by 20,000 Believers all singing praises to God - it was beautiful.
We learned five new (at least to us) songs from Hillsong Worship throughout the conference (and I still cannot get them out of my head). Unbeknownst to us they were doing a live recording on the final night of conference for the new album, Let the Be Light. So for the rest of my life I can say that I was on a Hillsong album! How awesome is that!
At Conference you’re placed in seating communities and are rotated around the Arena each session. There are seven sessions (three morning and four night) and therefore seven different seating assignments. Each time you'll have a different view of the stage. We sat everywhere from the floor to the nosebleeds behind the stage.
Conference attendees are called delegates, and delegates come from all over the world. It was fun talking with people from other countries and learning about their lives. We became good acquaintances with three delegates in particular, two from Australia and one from Thailand.
New friends in tow, we used our breaks to explore the Olympic Park. We visited the aquatic complex and sports center where we watched two games of wheelchair rugby and a game of netball.
All in all
The experience was one of a kind, and not because of any one speaker or session. I’ve seen many of those speakers before. It was the total experience - Getting away from my normal day-to-day, taking the time to press into God for hours upon hours, and coming together with the global Church (i.e. all Christ Followers). It's incredible what God can do in you when you make that kind of time for Him.
If you ever have the desire or chance to attend Hillsong Conference I highly recommend it. You'll get out of it what you put into it so lean in with all your heart and I promise you won't be disappointed.