Passion 2012: When Worship Fuels Mission

I’ve always been a fan of the Passion movement started by Louie Giglio. The movement started about 15 years ago, and its hallmark has always been the cool conferences gathering thousands of college-aged students from around the country along with the fantastic music they’ve produced. Their worship leaders are recording artists and songwriters who have written and produced songs for the church, many of which we sing each Sunday. Over the years, I’ve collected my fair share of Passion albums (often times live recordings of the fresh music played at the annual conferences). Here’s a promo for this past conference:

As with any good musical influence, their music has evolved over the years. What has been more inspiring, however, is seeing their theology grow with their music. I believe that it was John Calvin who said that if you show me the music of the church, I will show you her theology. The theology of this movement has always been about reclaiming a biblical, God-centered faith in Jesus, and the music has reflected that, but in recent years, the conferences have also been about taking worship into the streets – that is, doing something now about the world that we proclaim God rules over.

More than music, Passion has become a force uniting a generation to take seriously the call of the Gospel and its demands for the way we live in this world. This year, the focus was on ending human slavery. I have several thoughts concerning the over-optimism and borderline brash arrogance that says, “we will end slavery in our generation.” And I’m conflicted because I love their vision and boldness. Better to attempt to end slavery and fail than to sit back and do nothing because you know you’ll fail. They raised over 3 million dollars in 4 days to fund 6 projects to end slavery. (Hopefully, they won’t be paying 14.9%+ of that back in interest fees to credit card companies!) I also hope that a small percentage of these 45,000+ attendees will go beyond just giving gifts. Charity can be toxic according to Robert Lupton if it is not done with humility and understanding. Still, 3 million is 3 million. It makes me wonder if all this money is out there, why isn’t the church doing more and doing it more often? I suppose I need to start by asking myself that question first <sigh>!

I thoroughly enjoyed this past conference albeit I participated online watching live streaming sessions by myself or with my college students. I was challenged and inspired, but also left wondering, “what now?” Now that the music is recorded, the concert stage struck, the shirts sold, and the 45,000 back to being anonymous on their campuses, what about the 27 million slaves?

It’s a bigger question than I can answer, so I’ll simply say this – I love the Passion movement because their worship of God through music, through preaching actually fueled their mission to save slaves. I think that’s exactly the way it should be. Even CNN noticed.

What about you? What do you think about the Passion movement? Leave a comment.

2 thoughts on “Passion 2012: When Worship Fuels Mission

  1. What an amazing week! I was just scrolling down the comments following an article about the money and awareness raised at Passion 2012, and started to think about this as I read lots of skeptical ones. In a country where billions of dollars can be thrown around like pocket change, a $3 million fund probably looks pretty insignificant. After all, it amounts to about 11 cents given for every slave in the world. I hope it will achieve some great things for many people, but in the tremendous world of oppression it may not go very far. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that a large majority, myself included, of the 40-something thousand students at Passion have no idea what kind of effort it would take to end slavery during our lifetime. But I definitely agree that it’s better to get started than to sit by passively in the anticipation of failure.

    While the CNN story is great, it might give our world the idea that these finite efforts were the center of our focus during the week. But I hope that we will bring a different story. I think Francis Chan hit the nail on the head when he said that the solution to human trafficking is making disciples. Raising some money will rescue some prisoners and restore some lives to freedom – and that is awesome! But not even a $700 billion stimulus plan could kill the corruption that produces the demand for human enslavement. No amount of police forces, safe houses on trafficking borders, and legislation can hinder the lust for power and pleasure that drives this whole problem. The only thing that can destroy slavery at its source is the freedom from sin and the freedom to love that come through Jesus Christ.

    So “what now?” I truly hope that the constant messages of freedom throughout the week will wake people up to see God’s love for justice and peace and righteousness. But even greater is my hope that the 45,000 (again including myself) will not walk away without grasping the importance of sharing the gospel of Christ. Because only when we do that will we start to make eternal progress in the battle against slavery. So as Louie charged us at the end of the conference, we should imitate Paul’s attitude when he prayed that “words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).

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