The sound of 20,000 people in worship is not one that will soon be forgotten, creating a platform for next year's conference to ride on, with the words "Speak, we're listening" setting the tone for what is bound to be a significant time of devotion.
Established in 1986, the initially small worship conference has grown to include several masterclass-style sessions for church and business leaders, social justice advocates and creatives from all walks of life. Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong Church maintain that the conference's mandate is to "champion the cause of the local church" and this year that purpose was unerringly pursued.
Round-table discussions entitled "Let's Talk Church" formed part of the schedule each day and allowed pastors to ask questions of a panel of church leaders, from Brian Houston to Bill Hybels and Charles Neiman. Session topics included "How to deal with crisis" and "Generational decision-making".
Hybels' session was a highlight for most. His clear, unhurried manner of communication underscored the time-honoured wisdom of over forty years in ministry and was an oasis of peace in the middle of an action-packed program. An entreaty to return to personal devotion was cloaked in the metaphor of a "chair", a place to sit for fifteen minutes per day and read the Bible. Achievable and practical, the message made a lasting impression on attendees.
Next year's guests include Rick Warren, Joseph Prince, Jentezen Franklin and controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. It will be Driscoll's first time at the conference yet he is no stranger to the stage, having been named one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years by Preaching magazine.
More interesting than the preaching lineup, however, is the anticipation of what God is going to speak during a week set aside for worship.
To register for Hillsong Conference 2015 or for more information visit www.hillsong.com/conference .
Grace Mathew is a Sydney-based writer, speaker and presenter.
Grace's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/grace-mathew.html