Taking the Passion Worldwide

I must confess, I'm not an avid news-miner. I don't spend hours and hours combing through headlines on dozens of different news feeds and blogs. I browse blogs until I find a few that engage me, and then I'm pretty faithful to them. I'm the same way with recording artists. I like exploring, but I find something I like and stick with it. While I do not subscribe to a dozen news feeds, I do subscribe to Christianity Today (both the monthly hardcopy and daily e-version), through which I run across many intriguing, informative, and inspiring articles. Today's "newsletter" carried a lengthy piece that touched a special place in my heart. Associate Editor, Collin Hansen, did a story on how Passion Conferences--cataylsts of the 268generation--has influenced American collegiate culture, and how it is about to extend its influence worldwide.

For 10 years, Passion has been blazing the trail of college ministry, following Giglio's passion to reach who he views as the most strategic mission field in the world--college students. Indeed, Passion has set the standard that virtually all college ministries aspire to (even if they are not aware of the Passion "brand"), and they have set it high. The reason, I believe (and the article supports this), is that they have succeeded in being mirrors that reflect people to God (or, should I say, God to people). Now every viable ministry and church claims that reflecting God to the world is essential to their mission. But, for a variety of reasons, very few have been able to do so as faithfully as Passion--people miss God because of (a) a poor standard of excellence, or (b) lives of leaders who truly have not grasped and modeled the infinite otherness of God.

A couple of key quotes from the article reveal the secret to Passion's success:

More than 10 years of Passion conferences have imprinted Isaiah 26:8 on a generation of young evangelicals: "Yes Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for you, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls." Isaiah 26:8 reveals the theology that guides Passion's leaders, worship artists, and teachers. Passion promotes the sovereignty and glory of God. One reason for its success is clear: It has stayed on mission.

As a missional, "emerging" Christian, my bent toward "organic" ministry leads me at times into a nomadic way of approaching ministry. "Go unless He says no!" as Erwin McManus puts it in Seizing Your Divine Moment (a book I highly recommend). But in the midst of a (very biblical, I think) mindset that resists institution in favor of movement, there is something to be said of commitment and longevity.

The second quote, speaking of Passion's decision not to host a national, American collegiate conference next year and to take the conferences worldwide, reveals another key to Passion's overwhelming success:

He doesn't regret suspending the U.S. event, because he never planned to run conferences for the rest of his life. He wants Passion to be a catalyst, not an institution.
(emphasis mine)

Back to the organic movement mindset. Organizations, be they churches or parachurch ministries, who get to a point where they feel that someone how God's mission would somehow be diminished apart from their existence, cease to ascribe 100% of the glory to God, and instead reserve some for themselves. Again, while no church or ministry would admit to this, this is the underlying attitude of such organizations when they get caught up in building a centralized empire that they control. Churches who are bent on planting replicas of themselves are a prime example of this. Eventually, God's blessing leaves these ministries, and they are left to do His work in their own strength. Often times, it is not apparent that His blessing has left them, because fruit is still being born. But this fruit will not continue for more than a few years, maybe less. It will start to become rotten, stagnant, status quo.

If your heart beats for college students and those in their late teens and twenties, I highly suggest that you plug into the Passion movement on whatever level you can. I personally have been to 5 Passion gatherings--One Day '03, the Experience Tour, and the Thirsty leadership conference (see my post below) three straight years. My musical quiver is full of albums by Redman, Crowder, Hall, and Tomlin, as well as others who are connected to the movement, such as Tim Hughes (leads worship at Redman's church), Watermark, and Delirious.

"But what's so special about these guys," you say. Why them and not the majority of other of bands who have jump on the "worship bandwagon"? Perhaps it's because they have "the look" (you'll have to read the article to get the point of that). Quite simply, when I connect with them, I am immediately and totally pointed to God and not them--because of their devotion to spreading a passion for the glory of God alone, something I unfortunately cannot say about the preponderance of passengers riding the 'worship bandwagon'.

Someone might think, "Gee, this guy idolizes these folks. Talk about missing the point!" But let me ask you this: If I look to someone for leadership, and they do an exemplary job of pointing me, not to some newfangled ministry trend or philosophy, but to Christ, then am I not going to want others to look to them for leadership?! Of course I am, because I want people to see Christ! That's why Paul said, "Look to me as I follow Christ"! So I say, "Look to them as they follow Christ!" because God is using them to impact the world of college students like none before and none presently. So what if it's not your ministry? Who gives a rip about your ministry or any ministry for that matter? It's not about your ministry or my ministry or even Louie Giglio's ministry. It's about the glory of God and His story being told through you and me. Let's all take a lesson in humility so that we will receive God's gracious blessing on our own lives and ministries--for His glory.

Check out these pics from Passion '07 (Click on '07 Gallery). The pictures speak louder than words.


Popular Posts