"Hillsong - Let Hope Rise" hits theaters later this month and documents the astonishing rise of Billboard award-winning Australian worship band, Hillsong United, which began at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia in 1998.
While it originally started as a pastime for youth at church, Hillsong United has since grown into a global sensation; the band has sold over 17 million albums, their lyrics have been translated in 60 languages, and an estimated 50 million people around the world sing their songs every Sunday.
The band is led by Joel Houston, the son of Hillsong founders and pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, and all 11 band members are either volunteers or employees of the internationally recognized church.
During an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, Brian and Bobbie, who started Hillsong Church in 1983, said they believe this "theatrical worship experience" has the ability to connect with those who may not necessarily want to set foot in church.
"[We hope that] friends will feel comfortable - [people] may have friends who don't know Christ...and aren't comfortable attending a church service, but they might come to a movie theater and have what is a worship experience there, and in doing so actually encounter the presence of God, and encounter something there that is beyond this world by the grace of God," Bobbie told GH.
Brian explained that ultimately, the goal of Hillsong Church and Hillsong United is to point people to Jesus - and that's exactly what they hope the movie will do.
"I pray...that people are moved by it," he said. "We believe that many will actually be moved to stand on their feet in the movie theater and actually worship the Lord. That's what we'd love to see happen."
"Hillsong - Let Hope Rise" is produced by Jonathan Bock of Grace Hill Media, along with Matthew Weaver and Ben Field, and directed by Michael John Warren (Fade to Black, Nicki Minaj: My Time Now).
Brian maintained that his prayer for "Let Hope Rise" is that it glorifies God and not man; in fact, when he was first approached about the idea of making a film about Hillsong, he responded with shock: "Why would anyone want to make a movie about us?" he asked.
"We just really pray that this movie won't just be a movie about Hillsong, pointing to individuals," the pastor explained. "[We pray] it will really be a movie that makes people passionate about the local church, passionate about the God we serve, and that there will be many people there who don't know anything about Jesus Christ who will start searching deeper - that's our hope."
Headquartered in Sydney, Hillsong Church has an ever-expanding footprint of churches that circle the globe, with three U.S. sites - in and around New York City, Los Angeles and most recently in Phoenix, Arizona. Hillsong's reach extends across 14 countries and five continents, and it boasts an average weekly attendance worldwide near 100,000, according to its website.
Such numbers are staggering, particularly as weekly attendance is on the decline in most churches across the country.
"There's a church emerging, not just an individual denomination or just our church or anything," Brian said when asked the secret to Hillsong's success. "But, with everything going on in the world, people do still have a deep desire to connect with something greater, I believe, God Jesus. I I just think if you can take an old message and have it framed in a way where the message is the same but the way that it's received by people is just absolutely relevant to their world - I think people are looking for authenticity."
"Hillsong-Let Hope Rise" hits theaters nationwide on Sept. 16.