Wow. How do you fully process something like what happened this past week at the Dome? You really can’t. Just like last year, I think I have post-Passion syndrome. The tweet by Passion sums it up pretty well.
Having trouble unpacking #Passion2013 to family/friends?? Welcome to post-Passion syndrome! Just say, “Jesus,” and smile!
Back to the Dome
Ever since the close of Passion 2012, I have been waiting in anticipation to be back in the Dome. There’s something very special about worshipping and learning with your generation. Luckily before I knew it, January 1st rolled around.
Coming into the Dome was very different from last year. This year I knew what to expect and that I had to come prepared. I spent the days prior really digging into the Word and trying to prepare my heart for Passion. I knew that there were going to be a lot of distractions as the Dome neared. Distractions that would keep me from staying focused on Jesus. Prayer was my best defense.
Passion 2013 was my brother’s senior year and the first year that he could go. So, I was so excited when he signed up and committed to coming with me. Booyah!
Living near Atlanta, our trip was fairly quick and easy. We made the short trek downtown and checked into the hotel before walking over to Dome. One of my good friends was on the floor and saved seats. It was so good to see him and my other buddy that had originally introduced me to Passion. We ended up on the fourth row right in front of David Crowder. The opening visuals were incredible, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed last year’s where they blended in Acclimate (a website that scrolled Scripture) into the start.
The energy in the room was incredible. After an opening set with a ton of new songs, Louie came out to welcome us to Passion 2013 and preach on how God is a God of “immeasurably more.” Like last year, our focus was on modern-day slavery. 27 million of them. This year the Passion team had found 19 partners and 23 campaigns for us to fund… over $3 million in total.
Afterwards, we headed over to Community Groups in the Georgia World Congress Center. This is by far my favorite part of Passion. After forming our family groups of 8 people, we began to get to know each other and process the day together. We finished up late and I ended the day making my way across Centennial Olympic Park to my hotel.
Into the Heart of Passion 2013
For the next two days, we followed a full schedule that included early morning community groups, a main session at the Dome, lunch, another main session, dinner, main session, and finally more time with our community groups. The days were packed.
As part of the Orange Community Group, we were led by Freddy T from Gallery Church in Manhattan. We stepped through some of Ephesians together and processed what was happening in the Dome. While our Family Groups were a little awkward the previous night, we began to warm up to each other and started to have some really good discussions.
For the morning session of Day One, we were lead by Beth Moore through a discussion on the Passover. While stepping us through the account of the Passover feast in Matthew 26, she filled in details of the feast from the Old Testament. Her focus was on the four cups that Jesus would have lead his disciples through; the four promises from God (Exodus 6:5-7). Cup 1: I Will Bring You Out. Cup 2: I Will Deliver You From Slavery. Cup 3: I Will Redeem You. Cup 4: I Will Take You As My People. Through this added context, the account of the Passover really came alive with new meaning and depth.
For lunch, Passion provided Jason’s Deli. They fed over 60,000 students in under 25 minutes; it was impressive. Our afternoon session started off with worship led by Charlie Hall, one of the original Passion artists. Gary Haugen from IJM (International Justice Ministries) then came on to introduce the topic of slavery for this year’s conference. He opened by reminding us of what Jesus said about how people will know that we are His disciples. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35. He then asked the question that much of the world is asking, “where are God’s people while we have 27 million trapped in slavery?” When people wonder where God is during this generation, it’s because they don’t see God’s people being the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Why are we sitting around while this injustice is going on in the world? Because of our love for others, we should be compelled to go out and fight for freedom. He closed by saying that God doesn’t give people a ministry without the power to do it. It was a powerful call to action followed up by a powerful story… Rachel’s story.
I can’t really go into too many details on her story, but I will say that it was a powerful story of a very young girl that was caught in sex trafficking. Her rescue was made possible by work done by IJM. The craziest part was that she was actually in the Dome with us. The strength of this young girl was amazing. After her story was told, the afternoon session was done and the Freedom Stations were open. I was prepared to give.
For dinner, my buddy and I walked at least a mile from the Dome to a diner. We talked about wrapping our hearts around the slavery issue. Rachel’s story was a powerful way to begin this process, but we were hoping Day 2 would continue to inspire us and everyone else in the Dome around this issue. In order to really make a difference, we knew it was important that everyone at Passion really got a taste of slavery and got on board with the movement. Once our generation gets it, there’s little that can stop us.
The night session was led in worship by the Pasion band and Jesus Culture. It was incredible. Francis Chan then spoke about making disciples. The crux of his talk was “Are you making disciples?… because that is when you experience Jesus.” The passion and authenticity of Francis Chan is sometimes almost too much. He’s not afraid of speaking what’s in his heart. At the close of his talk, we broke out into our Family Groups and processed all that the day had brought.