Hillsong lead singer Taya Smith reveals how the popular Christian music group is able to maintain their humility in the midst of worldwide fame and the success of their film, "Let Hope Rise," in an interview with The Christian Post.
The film "Let Hope Rise," which released on DVD on Tuesday, chronicles the rise of the Sydney, Australia-based worship band Hillsong UNITED, and features various clips of the band at their highest and lowest points.
The film opened in theaters nationwide during the summer and received high praise and positive reviews from audiences everywhere. It was rated a high "A" grade from Cinemascore, and The New York Times hailed the movie as "a slick, stirring concert film that details the sound and mission of the most impactful group in evangelicalism."
"If I'm being honest, I don't think we knew what to expect because we're not movie stars," Smith, the band's sole female singer, said in an interview with CP. "I guess we never thought that would be something that would be on the books for 2016 or even two years ago when we were filming it. I feel like every step of the way it was a nice little surprise."
Born and raised on the far north coast of New South Wales, Smith admitted that she was most surprised that the film was even released in her home country.
"My mom was super excited. It's all been a bit of a whirlwind," she gushed.
As times in the world get darker and the need for a Savior increases, Smith said she feels like all people need one thing in particular and the movie points people in that direction.
"I feel like it's in the title, 'Let Hope Rise.' I would hope that people would leave more hopeful from the cinema or from watching the DVD than when they started — that they would be encouraged with whatever God has put in their hand. It doesn't have to be worship music, but that they would be inspired and encouraged through our story," Smith explained.
"We are very ordinary people, which I think you can see from the film, and we have an amazing God who does extraordinary things through very ordinary people. That's our prayer — that people would see that and be encouraged. Even be encouraged to step out, even to dream the big dreams. I don't think we're called to live a small life," she said.
Smith also wants the film to reach the unchurched and hopes that people who don't know Jesus would feel comfortable enough to watch the DVD in the privacy of their own home.
"They might not feel comfortable going to the church, but this is a way to kind of get the message of Jesus and who He is and how kind He is to us," Smith explained. "I hope people would maybe see their story in our story and they'd be like, 'Well, they're very normal. So, maybe church is a place where I could find home and find community.'"
Smith told CP that she is in awe of what God can do, being that He took a group of people from different walks of life and met them where they were and brought them together to use their gifts to make an impact.
"God is completely in control and He interweaves things if you completely surrender and trust Him. He actually has good things for you and you can trust Him," the 27 year old assured.
"For example, I would have never imagined that I would have been able to do the things that we do now — my life, my church, and even the things I get to be a part of. It's pretty mind blowing. So to me, God is in complete control and you can trust him."
Hillsong UNITED consists of several rotating worship leaders from the church. Members include Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, Smith and seven others.
Along with their successes, Hillsong has also faced their share of controversies. In the film, Senior Pastor Brian Houston spoke openly about the challenges they've faced since becoming a worldwide ministry.
Smith says, like her pastor, she doesn't allow negative backlash to get to her.
"I think you just have to know what you're about. There's always going to be haters, there's always going to be people that don't necessarily agree with everything that you're doing, but you have to stay true to yourself and you have to stay true to who God called you to be," Smith continued. "It's the importance of having community around you so that if you get a bit off track you have someone that can pull you in and say, 'Hey, that wasn't so great.' But you know that they love you because you've spent the time in community and they have your back.
"I feel like it's all about the people that you have around you. With people you just never know their story, so if they're going to put you down or something, you just never know what's going on in their world. So it's best to show them grace."
She admits that it's easier said than done, but when those things arise it's a time when Hillsong UNITED focus on the character of Christ.
"God's very kind and we do have to be gracious," she emphasized.
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 the United States, Hillsong is recognized for their thriving congregations in New York and Los Angeles. Combined, the ministry reaches over 100,000 people weekly.
"The Bible says the one thing that God was going to build is His Church. I want to be about my father's business and that is building the church. All of us, when we're not traveling or doing other things overseas, we're actually just part of our local church," Smith said.
The "Oceans" singer praised the healthiness that comes from being in community. She said she treasures having accountability, friendship and people to share her journey with.
"I've definitely been so thankful for community and for what I've found within my local church. It's been one that has held me in the craziest of seasons. Especially as a young person, there's a lot of different influences in the world but being able to be a part of a place where there are people who are a bit further along in the journey, and they're speaking into my life and giving me wisdom, so I don't necessarily have to learn the hard lessons. I could just learn from their lives and make good decision based on the fruit that see coming out of their lives."
Smith emphasized that the importance of community is "undervalued" because people tend to isolate themselves or end up in an unhealthy church environment so they never know what they are missing out on.
"When it's a healthy environment, it's an amazing place to be and our lives tend to benefit from it. Even with us as a group, I didn't grow up with any brothers and I've inherited 14 older brothers and I feel like that's our little family unit and in that there's so much health and we have eachothers back," she said.
With community and a family unit comes checks and balances, Smith said, and if any of them at any time becomes puffed up with pride there's always someone there to bring things back into perspective.
"If we didn't have those people then you'd probably be blowing your own horn and very soon you'd realize, 'Oh, God is not in this because I'm making it all about me,'" Smith added.
With powerful performances "Hillsong – Let Hope Rise" features Hillsong's most iconic and beloved hit songs such as "Oceans," "Mighty to Save" and "Hosanna."
For more information on "Hillsong – Let Hope Rise," click here.