Brian Houston, the Senior Pastor of Hillsong, has written an open letter about his finances. In this part of the letter, he explains his income and his ‘rectory’.
My total personal income from Hillsong Church in its entirety is just on $150,000 including fringe benefits plus currently the use of a Holden Caprice, along with just over another $150,000 from Leadership Ministries which makes up my complete personal income. (If you want to get really personal, I drive a Holden, Bobbie drives a three-year-old Audi Q7, and I ride a motorbike). All of LMI’s income is generated through Bobbie’s and my ministry endeavours, including our writing, resources and speaking to Christian leadership groups and conferences. Both Hillsong Church and LMI have separate boards that determine my personal income – Bobbie and I are not a part of those decisions and in fact, no one from our family serves on the LMI board. The nominated salary for both Bobbie and I from the Hillsong Church Board is significantly more than what we choose to accept, though we made the choice to forego much of our nominated salary for many years. The existence of LMI also increases the opportunity for finance to go towards the Church and other related causes that we are so passionate about.
The two properties owned by LMI are a part of the ministry and their use is in line with ministry purposes. One of these properties has permanent tenants and the rent goes directly back into LMI. The other is a one-bedroom apartment in Bondi. Both of these properties were included in the ATO’s recent re-endorsement of the ministry.
Almost ten years ago, Bobbie and I owned two properties that were effectively being used for the work of our ministry. One, in the Hawkesbury, was regularly used for church get-togethers, church activities, and it is used as a ministry retreat as well as for family time. In Bondi, we invested in a one-bedroom apartment that we often used, in-line with our responsibilities at the Hillsong City Campus. I held appointments there; we entertained people and visiting ministers and used it as a quiet place for personal study. Its close proximity to the airport is a great blessing to me. Eight to ten years ago, we were in a position where we could no longer afford to keep these properties and upon deciding to sell them, the board of LMI recognised that they were a valuable asset for the purpose of the ministry. After receiving professional advice, the board unanimously agreed and purchased these properties at the independently evaluated current market price. Bobbie and I paid personal tax on the profit of the sale and the Australian Tax Office have reviewed the use of these properties for ministry purposes, similar to an Anglican vicarage or a Catholic rectory.