Leaked report reveals details of moral failures by Hillsong’s Carl Lentz

The US newspaper, The Christian Post, has published a leaked copy of an investigation by Hillsong’s lawyers into the former lead pastor of Hillsong New York City church, Carl Lentz.

The report, commissioned by the Hillsong Global Board, was carried out by the NYC law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, over a period of less than two months following Lentz’s firing in November 2020. The confidential report, titled “Internal Investigation Report Regarding Carl Lentz and Other Matters” was submitted to the Hillsong Global Board on January 11, 2021.

This report was kept secret, despite requests from some senior Hillsong pastors to make it public, but has now been obtained by The Christian Post website.

Eternity has not seen the 51-page report, but The Christian Post story makes unpleasant reading of a man who, it would appear, has bullied and manipulated staff, volunteers and even his own wife.

The report details serious failures of pastoral care. The investigators spoke with former and current staff members, and former and current volunteers, many of whom only agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity.

The Christian Post said the report outlined multiple incidents of sexual interaction “between church leaders and congregants, staff, volunteers or non-churchgoers”.

What is made clear in the report is Lentz’s lack of accountability to the then Global Senior Pastor, Brian Houston, or to the board.

“… he did as he pleased in a hierarchy where he seemingly answered to no one,” writes The Christian Post.

Investigators suggested that Lentz was not always a credible witness, especially “when defending his demands for cultural isolationism from the Australian parent church.”

“The Australian mother ship appears also to bear some responsibility here, since it never established effective oversight and accountability for the New York lead pastor.

“This lack of oversight permitted Carl Lentz to assume the role of final arbiter of what was proper behaviour for everyone in New York, himself included. With the benefit of hindsight, given Lentz’s personal limitations, this was a recipe for trouble,” the investigators wrote.

The report gives examples of volunteers and staff whose mental health was impacted by bullying behaviour of Lentz.

It also focuses on two sexual relationships – with the family nanny and with a NYC-based designer who spoke publicly about their affair last year.

The investigators wrote, “There were certain things in Carl’s life that would make him feel a dangerous or pleasurable feeling. He called it ‘manipulated intimacy’.”

The leaking of this report comes on the back of Brian Houston’s resignation as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong and the decision by the Global Board to terminate Bobbie Houston’s role as Co-Global Senior Pastor.