What Happened To Hillsong Church Pastor Carl Lentz?

Hillsong Church is perhaps best known for its celebrity parishioners. According to People, Hillsong can count Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger, Selena Gomez, Kevin Durant, and an array of Kardashians and Jenners among the high-profile people who have attended or are active members of the megachurch.

According to the church's official website, Hillsong Church was founded near Sydney, Australia in 1983. The church's original founders, Brian and Bobbie Houston, are still part of the church. Over the years, the husband and wife duo grew the church internationally, and Hillsong Church now boasts churches in 30 countries and sees a weekly attendance figure close to 150,000.

Hillsong is no stranger to controversy. The church's alleged treatment of LGBTQ members has drawn criticism, though according to an interview with "Today," Brian Houston said he wants the church to improve in that respect. Another controversy struck the church between 2020 and 2021, and this time it revolved around one of its most high-profile pastors, Carl Lentz (above).

Celebrity pastor Carl Lentz was fired amid scandal

According to The New York Times, Carl Lentz became well-known for being a popular pastor for Hillsong Church's celebrity-heavy congregation and served as the leader of the church's New York City branch. Lentz gained wider notoriety outside the church in 2017, after TMZ reported on the close relationship between Lentz and pop star Justin Bieber (above). From there, Lentz became a celebrity in his own right.

In late 2020 Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston announced that Lentz had been fired. Lentz himself revealed on Instagram that he had engaged in an extra-marital affair, telling his Instagram followers in a post, "I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life."

Making matters worse for Lentz, in 2021, Leona Kimes, a church member and former nanny for the Lentz family, accused the disgraced pastor of sexual abuse, being manipulative, and bullying in a post on Medium, according to NBC News. While not named in Kimes' Medium piece, she did confirm to Religion News Service that Lentz was the person she was referring to. According to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, Lentz denied her accusations. Since his firing, Lentz has laid low. His most recent post to Instagram — a platform on which he has over 600,000 followers — was in November 2020, when he announced his departure from Hillsong Church. According to a Daily Mail report from last November, the Lentzes have been engaged in couples counseling.

The three-part documentary "Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed" debuts March 24 on Discovery+. (The trailer is on YouTube.)