"Hillsong: Let Hope Rise" hits theaters Friday, September 16, and gives fans an powerful "theatrical worship experience". The film, directed by Michael John Warren and produced by Jonathan Bock of Grace Hill Media, Matthew Weaver and Ben Field, brings to the silver screen the incredible rise of Australian Christian band Hillsong United, fronted by Joel Houston, son of Hillsong Church founder Brian and Bobbie Houston.
Launched in 1998 from the youth ministry at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, Hillsong United is today the most successful worship band of all time. An estimated 50 million people around the world sing their songs every Sunday, they have sold some 20 million albums, and their recent hit, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) has spent more than two years in the top five of Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart after more than a year at No. 1.
But despite their incredible success, the members of Hillsong United maintain a humble demeanor, continually giving the glory to God: "It's all about Him," reads the film tagline.
During a sit-down interview with The Gospel Herald in NYC, guitarist Jad Gillies said he believes the band is ultimately a "picture of the church."
"The way we work together - we kind of work to each other's strengths," he explained.
"We all have our different things we bring to the table," agreed singer and percussionist Jonathon Douglass, aka JD, who has been a member of Hillsong Church since he was four years old and is one of the original members of the group.
"I try to encourage other people," he explained of his role in the band. "And so, the thing that I love is being able to hear back from people that it does encourage them to understand that there are so many things in life that will try to tie you down, but ...[with] the freedom we have in God, just praise Him anyway. The life that it can lead to when you have that perspective of being grateful and... letting it all out, really helps people... when everything is trying to hold you down, you can actually take that life on."
For nearly two hours, "Let Hope Rise" gives fans an intimate look at the band as they prepare for a massive show at the Forum in Los Angeles, interact with their respective families, engage in missionary work, and perform hits like "Oceans" and "Touch the Sky" at sold-out venues all over the world.
When asked about the balance between work and family, JD, who has two young daughters with his wife, Lauren, said he - and the other members of the band - are confident that anything of significance is only going to be achieved through sacrifice.
"For us, understanding that what we do - we're passionate about, we believe in, we feel like it's a God-given opportunity," he explained. "And so, again, it's always about trying to manage that and also, at the end of the day, there's also a grace in what we do. My wife is incredible - our wives are the real heroes of Hillsong United, and the fact that they release us to do what we do helps us to really do that, so we don't take that for granted...It's the grace of God [that allows us] to be able to function how we do."
Added Jad, "The day we feel like the cost is too much, that's the day that we'll finish. But right now, we believe in it that much, we believe in the message we carry that much that we do it together."
The band members said their prayer for the film is that it encourages people and gives them a renewed sense of purpose.
"I pray that people who are in church will see a little bit of their own life throughout the thread of the film," said Jad. "And, people who aren't in church ... would be encouraged that maybe the church is somewhere that could be home for them, or they'd be encouraged that no matter how ordinary you feel your life is, that you can do something significant with it."
Added JD: "If God has done it for us - if people can see the reality that we're not really that special or that great, but what God can do with a life that says, 'Use me, here I am,' and with no agenda, I believe that God can fulfill the dreams in your heart."
To learn more about "Let Hope Rise," visit the film website.