Marking the final day of the conference is the symbol of unity through the participation in the taking of communion which was both a simple and profound way to close the conference week.
It was delightful to see the arena packed out, both at the Qudos Bank Arena and the overflow in the Sydney Showgrounds - in the rain - willing to get a taste of the goodness of God and His truth - as displayed not just in the final evening, but throughout the conference.
From Friday's morning session with Casey Treat of Christian Faith Centre based in Seattle to Carl Lentz from the Hillsong New York campus, it was a special treat to see these passionate people preach "passionate messages" from a platform where so many have stood over the past few days, where all shared and welcomed each other in the name of Christ.
As Casey Treat mentioned during his message, Hillsong conference was not a pride parade, but a place where the promising message of truth was centred around Christ.
As the last day of the conference closed with the masterclass sessions, I was amazed that although it was officially wrapping up, many came hours in advance to line up outside to hear the good news and the message that Hillsong has continued to proclaim year after year. It was also so very special this year as the largest support for Compassion sponsorship, with almost a thousand children sponsored in the past few days. And so the legacy continues.
Rather than being a despondent day beleaguered by the wet weather, there was an atmosphere of anticipation as the day drew to an end, with delegates expecting to go home not just inspired, but also changed.
As many people had come and had pledged to be in attendance next year, it was wonderful to see that many additional people will be invited to Hillsong 2017 as first time attenders by so many willing partners in order that they too might share the good news with others.
Masterclass on Discipleship
This was an extension of what I also saw at one of the masterclass sessions entitled "The Necessity of Discipleship" co-hosted by the Alpha course and Hillsong City Campus. I was very blessed to get in as before the start it was standing room only in a crowded room of more than 200 people.
As I took my seat, the co-hosts were able to confide with the crowd that although they were of different denominations, different worship styles and even discipleship methods, each was able to learn from each other. Discipleship went beyond getting people to say a prayer or to attend another worship service – this was highlighted and we all prayed to this end.
Looking back over these packed four days, it was much more than another chance to network or to hear a great sermon. I've been able to see a real community forging real relationships with each other irrespective of our affiliations. Encouraging as it is, what happens after this conference is now the central focus. At the end of the day, it is for people to "let go and to let God."
So as I prepare to leave Sydney to return to Brisbane, more than anything else, I've learnt that the presence of an authentic community empowered with the good news of Jesus and backed by the blessing of God can surely have an impact on more than one location. To be part of something greater is a calling we all have. As Brian Houston often says, "the best is yet to come."
Joseph Kolapudi is a third-culture-kid born in Australia to Indian parents, Joseph recently returned from California where he was studying theology at Fuller, and has been working for the US Center for World Mission; his love of books and writing has now drawn him to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html