'Hillsong – Let Hope Rise' Spotlights Faith of Ordinary People With Extraordinary God (Interview)

Hillsong United pose at the premiere of 'Hillsong - Let Hope Rise,' Los Angeles, California, Sept. 2016
Hillsong United pose at the premiere of "Hillsong - Let Hope Rise," Los Angeles, California, Sept. 2016 | (Photo:Grace Hill Media)

World-renowned ministry Hillsong released their highly anticipated feature film "Let Hope Rise" this weekend, and Hillsong UNITED member Jad Gillies says the Pure Flix film will highlight how a mighty God used a group of ordinary devoted people to impact the world for Him.

In the film, Senior Pastor Brian Houston explains that the success of Hillsong is not about themselves but instead it's all about God. "Let Hope Rise" features various clips of the band in their highest and lowest points – praying, touring, with their family, writing songs and more.

Hillsong has grown from a single church in suburban Sydney Australia to an international ministry that now extends to cities on five continents, including London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, and Phoenix. In America, Hillsong is recognized for their thriving congregations in New York and Los Angeles. Combined, the ministry reaches over 100,000 people weekly.

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The following is an edited transcript with long-time member of Hillsong UNITED, Jad Gillies, who explains Hillsong's heart behind the film, their journey through fame and the real reason they released the theatrical worship experience, "Let Hope Rise."

Jad Gillies of Hillsong United at the premiere of 'Hillsong - Let Hope Rise,' Los Angeles, California, Sept. 2016
Jad Gillies of Hillsong United at the premiere of "Hillsong - Let Hope Rise," Los Angeles, California, Sept. 2016 | (Photo: Grace Hill Media)

The Christian Post: Hillsong UNITED has helped reinvent the worship experience for this generation, what was your inspiration behind doing that?

Gillies: When we started years ago, we started writing songs because we wanted to give our friends and the young people at our youth ministry songs to sing that connected with them stylistically but also so that we can connect with where they are as young people. I think that nothing has really changed as far as our approach is concerned. We're still trying to write songs that will help people express and articulate what it is that they feel towards God. Despite the fact that they may not totally understand God, they can still approach Him and they can still have these songs as a way to maybe draw closer to Him and even express gratitude or love or curiosity toward God.

To be honest we've always worked and sought to provide and create an experience that's interactive, that people participate in, that they can contribute to. I feel like whenever people are contributing or participating and we're all in this together, that's where God is, that's where He likes to abide.

CP: "Let Hope Rise" talks about the fact that some traditional churches have lost people's favor. However Hillsong churches around the world are thriving, why do you think so?

Gillies: There are vibrant churches all around the world that are experiencing growth. I think it comes down to the message of  – the Bible is relevant. It's never been more relevant and it definitely doesn't need us to spruce it up and make it cool. [The Bible] is already as important and relevant as it's going to be.

I feel like the church, not just our church – there's a lot of churches out there and they're doing a great job presenting the truth and simplicity of the Gospel for what it is. People respond to that because if you look around in this world today people have never been in more need of a message of hope and I feel like that's what people are connecting with, which is definitely the truth of the Gospel.

CP: In the film, Joel Houston says he likes to get "Heaven's thoughts" on paper when writing songs. How do you infuse heavenly inspiration with a mainstream feel musically?

Gillies: I think personally for us, we're in church. We are listening to preaching and reading the Bible. When you fill yourself with those kind of things that's what comes out of you. But I think stylistically we always just write or create what we like. I like this kind of music and I enjoy it, so I guess that goes in, and what comes out is perhaps just a big mashup of what I've been filling myself with – kind of diverse styles of music but also the word of God, the truth of His word and sound teaching. I think if those are the things that are going in then the product coming out will be reflective of that.

CP: What are some of the things UNITED does to maintain the heart of worship in light of all of the fame and success?

Gillies: We are fortunate enough to have come out of a local church. We have Hillsong Church which is about 30 years old. We started in youth ministry, we were the youth ministry band. Obviously I'm 36 now so I'm no longer in the youth ministry but we are still involved and planted in the church. When we're not touring we're at home. I've got a job and responsibilities at our local church in Sydney, Australia. Not traveling for 5 months of the year really helps us. We keep our trips at 3 weeks at a time and when we're home we're with our family, we're with our church friends, we're held accountable. I feel like that really helps us to stay on track.

Follow Jeannie Law on Twitter: @jlawcp Follow Jeannie Law on Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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