A “flop.” That’s how Australian web site TheMusic.com.au disparaged “Let Hope Rise,” the concert documentary featuring Hillsong United, which debuted three weeks ago here in the United States.
As of this past Friday, the film has earned $2.3 million. That’s little more than a tenth the sum earned over the same span by, say, “Blair Witch,” as Hillsong’s detractors would no doubt point out.
But the success of “Let Hope Rise” cannot be measured by the standards of Mammon, the god worshiped by the secular world, but by the Great Commission the risen Christ issued to his followers:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
That’s the kingdom cause to which Hillsong United has committed itself since its formation in 1998 at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia.
It’s not about fame. It’s not about fortune. It’s about exalting the Lord among the nations.
That’s why Hillsong United has released 16 albums of praise and worship music, the most recent of which earned the band Billboard’s 2016 award as “Top Christian Artist.”
That’s why the band spends so much time on tour, performing live all over the world. And that’s why the 11 band members allowed intimate glimpses of their lives beyond the music in “Let Hope Rise.”
Hillsong United is sowing the word of God through its music. And churches throughout the world are reaping the harvest.
It is just as Christ envisioned:
“Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
“God created music,” said Joel Houston, Hillsong United’s leader, “for the sole purpose of it being used to connect the people, the human heart, our soul, with Him.”
That’s what happens every Sunday when the songs Hillsong United has created – through the power of the Holy Spirit that works in them – are sung in churches by an estimated 50 million people.
As to those who feel uncomfortable or out of place in a traditional church setting, a concert film like “Let Hope Rise” could be the gateway through which lost souls find their way to Christ.
Indeed, “Let Hope Rise” has been has been seen here in the United States by more than a quarter-million film-goers. And the documentary should attract at least as many internationally.
If just one-tenth of one percent of those who see the film are so moved by the Holy Spirit they accept Jesus as their Lord, that’s 500 lost souls that will be saved.
That may seem consequential to those who measure the success of Hillsong United’s concert film by how much money it earns at the box office. But the Gospel tells us “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”