Idol Chatter

hillsongThere’s a scene in HILLSONG-LET HOPE RISE, our new movie coming to theaters this Friday, in which Hillsong UNITED worship leader Joel Houston is asked to explain why the band’s music has become such an international, inspirational phenomenon.

His answer makes no mention of how well he or any of his bandmates sing or play. He doesn’t mention any song’s lyrics, or production, or sales figures. In fact, he doesn’t mention the group at all.

Instead, he points to the same place UNITED’s music points: “God created music to connect people, the human heart – our soul – with heaven.”

It is because Hillsong UNITED is so dedicated to serving that purpose with its music that HILLSONG -LET HOPE RISE even got made. The idea to bring their story to the screen was birthed one night when I saw them lead worship at the Hollywood Bowl with my producing partner, Matt Weaver. Matt had never seen nor heard of them; I had. He considers himself more spiritual than Christian; I grew up in the church. But both of us were so profoundly moved by what we experienced that night we felt compelled – called – to try to capture it and bring it to the big screen.

Have we succeeded? Audiences will be the judges of that. But we have seen something remarkable happen when we’ve screened the film all across the country: men and women, rising to their feel, raising their arms and signing in praise to the Creator right there in the theater! Like that night at the Hollywood Bowl, something about worship music leads audiences to shed their inhibitions and allow the Spirit of God to move in and through them. Even in a movie theater, their hearts are connected to Heaven.

Hillsong UNITED, of course, is not the first or only group or individual to usher listeners into the very presence of the Lord through music. David does it throughout the Psalms; worship teams and choirs do it every Sunday in churches all across the globe. It happens, I think, because worship music employs God’s creation to touch God’s spirit. It becomes a two-way transaction – we express our love to Him, He returns His love to us. A door is opened to intimate, ongoing communion between God and His beloved.

In worship, we experience what that means in a more focused and sustained way than the daily noisiness of life allows. True worship is free from distraction – our smartphone in our pocket, our eyes not working the room, our minds not wandering to our mental to-do lists. We are wholly dialed in to praising Him. And remarkable, life-changing things can happen in those moments!

We hear about some of them in HILLSONG – LET HOPE RISE: everyday people who walked into a UNITED show not knowing Jesus and walked out knowing that they are one of His children. The desire implanted in the heart of each of us to be truly known is fulfilled through the miracle of worship. And, as Joel Houston so eloquently states, our heart and soul are connected to heaven.

That is certainly something worth singing about.

HILLSONG-LET HOPE RISE Producer Jonathan Bock is president of Grace Hill Media, one of Hollywood’s most influential faith-based marketing firms.

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