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Artist Interview

Hillsong UNITED’s Jad Gillies on Worshipping God Live in Miami

By Hannah Goodwyn Senior Producer
Hillsong has become synonymous with contemporary worship music. Hillsong UNITED was born out of the famous Australian church's youth movement back in the late 1990s. Nowadays, the worship band is still going strong, leading arena-packed audiences in praise to our God.

Band member Jad Gillies shares some insight into the mandate of Hillsong UNITED and their latest album, Live in Miami.

Hannah Goodwyn: Hillsong UNITED's stated purpose is "to passionately seek and worship God." What does worship mean to you personally?

Jad Gillies: I love to think of worship as our response to Jesus and what He's done for us and what He's continuing to do, which is just He saved us, and is He is continuing to save us. So what worship for me is just an ongoing kind of response or an ongoing state of mind that kind of acknowledges Jesus, acknowledges what He's done for us.

When we approach these nights, I just want to leave nothing behind, give everything I can, because basically He is worth it. For me the tagline, "To passionately seek and worship God," that's what we want to do. We want to make sure that we're not just paying lip service, that we actually with everything we've got, which is not just the songs, but with our lives, with our being, with our actions, and we would honor God and that we would encourage others to do so.

HG: This new album, Hillsong UNITED's 10th live record, came out of your Aftermath Tour. Were there any highlights from that night of recording in Miami?

JG: One of the things that really stick in my mind is the moment when we sing "With Everything." At the end of that song, pretty much we finish the song, but they keep singing it. They keep singing the chant. That room was so loud; it was deafening.

I was blown away because it was so loud. To be honest with you, when you experience just people so passionate, so excited about God, about the presence of God, it really does something to you. For me, I was just like, "Man, God this is for you. We're here for you. We're here because of you. We're here for you. And these people, they just want to sing to you. They just want to connect with you and be in your presence."

HG: Live in Miami features old Hillsong UNITED songs and new ones. How did the band come up with the lineup?

JG: We'll always include the songs in our worship nights that we think people will want to sing. Those songs we feel that are still relevant to what God's doing or what we're doing, we'll include them. Some songs, [such as] "All I Need is You" and "Enemy's Been Defeated," people still want to sing them. People grab onto them.

HG: Why is music so integrated in how we choose to worship God?

JG: You don't have to be listening to Christian music to figure out that music is an emotive tool. You just have to watch a movie and figure out how music makes you feel within certain scenes and how it kind of can amplify a feeling or how it can draw on a response or whatever. It's not hard to see that music is a great tool for opening up emotions.

Worship goes far, far beyond music and lyrics and songs. But for us, for me, even just worship reading in our home church Hillsong… music is a great way to open people up, especially when it's combined with a concession of scripture or the concession of spiritual truth.  

It builds faith. Music is not the be all and end all. It's not worship in itself, but it is definitely expected. I love it. I love music, I love the way it speaks. I love the way it makes me feel. I love singing. But I definitely love the fact that it could be a vehicle for me to connect with God.

HG: What worship song moves you every time you hear it?

JG: To be honest, it depends. To me, I can hear a song and it not really provoke anything within me. But in a certain environment, I can hear a song and be really drawn in by what it says. There's one song at the moment for me that I've been listening to by Matt Maher called "Christ is Risen". I just love listening to that and just hearing some of that Bible truth, some of that spiritual truth and just being comforted by it. I love just listening to music that is the Word of God and that represents truth.

HG: Say you're talking with a friend who's not familiar with church and you're trying to explain to them what worshipping God is like; how would you describe it?

JG: All I can really say is worship is an opportunity to really try and connect with the Creator of the Earth. As weird as it may look or sound, it's just like having a conversation with another person. We're just having a conversation or interacting with our God, who happens to be invisible. There's no prerequisites. You don't have to have your arms at a 90-degree angle. You don't have to have your eyes shut. You don't have to sing like Dolly, and you came as you are. You come from where you come from. You come however you come. You come and you are able to connect with God. There is no formula or form. You just come and you try and talk to Him. You try and connect with Him; and He's just there. He's ready. He's ready to talk to you.

Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.

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