“HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE” is Refreshing and Uplifting

hillsong-movieIn a day when many athletes, actors, and rock stars behave as wild, disrespectful, or spoiled young children, HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE is a refreshing and uplifting look at one of the most influential bands in the world today.

While there might be people who are not familiar with who Hillsong UNITED is, chances are good that they have heard the music of this Sydney-based group. They might have even sung their songs in church, including, “Shout to the Lord,” “Mighty to Save,” “From the Inside Out,” Hosanna,” “Lead Me to the Cross,” “Relentless,” “With Everything” “Cornerstone,” “Touch the Sky” and “Oceans.”

HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE is directed by Michael John Warren (FADE TO BLACK). It is produced by Matthew Weaver of MediaWeaver Entertainment (WE’RE THE MILLERS), Jonathan Bock of Grace Hill Media and Ben Field of Hillsong Church, with Ted Gartner, Phil Cooke and Greg Campbell as executive producers. It stars Hillsong UNITED (Joel Houston, Jonathon “JD” Douglass, Taya Smith, Jad Gillies, Matt Crocker, Dylan Thomas, Michael Guy Chislett, Simon Kobler, Timon Klein and Benjamin Tennikoff); and Hillsong Church pastors Brian Houston and Bobbie Houston.

There are different elements of this film. Part of it looks at the Hillsong movement, which started as a small church service in a borrowed building in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. Since its founding by pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983, Hillsong Church has expanded to 17 global locations (including London, Paris, Stockholm, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Cape Town and Moscow), with more than 100,000 weekly attendees, including thriving congregations in New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

hillsong-concertThe film is also about the band, Hillsong UNITED, which has sold more than 20 million albums, with songs translated into 100 different languages and playing to crowds of as many as 100,000 people. Yet, HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE is not a ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous.’ The band members of Hillsong UNITED do behave, nor live, like rock stars. Employees of or volunteers for the church, they live quite modestly, a few with their in-laws because they’re saving to buy a house.

So, what happens to the money from album sales, touring, and merchandise? The film reveals that is poured back into the ministry efforts and opportunities of the church, including feeding and educating children in the slums of India, [watch the Compassion featurette below] building housing for those living with AIDS in Africa, and rescuing victims of human trafficking around the globe.

The film also follows the band as they write a new album while on a global tour. It is interesting to see songs begin as a single word set to a simple melody and then watch as the finished song is performed in concert. Beyond just ‘sit and watch us sing,’ the concert clips include song lyrics on the screen, so that audiences may join in the worship.

Releasing from Pure Flix, and opening in theaters on Friday, September 16, HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE runs 1 hour, 43 minutes. Its rating of PG for ‘certain thematic elements’ left me scratching my head. Being a mother and grandmother, I saw absolutely nothing in this film that is offensive or that would be difficult for a child to view.

Instead, HILLSONG—LET HOPE RISE is a transparent look at a group whose sole desire is use music to tell people that they are loved by God. “We want everyone who sees this movie to know God accepts everybody just the way they are,” Joel Houston says. “That His grace is sufficient for everyone and our faith isn’t built on what we do and how good we are. It’s not about judgment and it’s not about pointing the finger. It’s actually about finding hope.”

For more information about HILLSONG – LET HOPE RISE:

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