Hard to believe another Passion has come and gone. Ever since my friend first dragged me to check out Passion City Church, Passion has been a yearly tradition that I look forward to with an unbelievable amount of anticipation. Passion, I feel, encapsulates so much of what I can’t express, but is burning inside of me. It’s incredible to look back at how this movement has shaped my life. But my experience with Passion actually starts back before my friend begged me to come check out this new church in Atlanta.
A Really Vague Memory
Forgive me as a drag a really vague memory from the depths.
Back in my middle school and early high school years, I was a part of a youth church group called Lifeteen. I really didn’t have any friends in it and struggled really to connect with anyone else since they all went to a different school than me. Basically, this specific time and part of my life was really uneventful and the only reason why I stuck with it was because I thought it was the right thing to do. I was really stubborn when it came to doing the “right thing”.
However, after being introduced to Passion City Church by my friend, they mentioned something about this movement called Passion that seemed vaguely familiar. Then I remembered… back in my Lifeteen days the Passion conference somehow was brought up to the older kids. I was only 13 or so at the time and was super curious, so I looked up the website. Nothing special happened as I browsed the site, but I remember getting this really strong desire to go to one of the Passion gatherings. Like really strong. Not necessarily because it was the church thing to do (I mainly just did the minimum), but because I could sense this was something different. Something new that I needed to experience.
Adios Tigertown, Hello ATL
A group of six of us came down to Atlanta for Passion this year, including a couple of people that had never been. I tend to talk up Passion a lot, so I’m sure they had some high expectations.
Unlike previous years, this Passion conference was only a two-day deal. Unfortunately, this meant that community groups were not happening. Super bummed. Since it was going to be a short conference, we rolled up Friday night for the first session ready to jump right in.
Main Session Talks
Louie poured out his heart this first night. And, looking back, it’s almost like this year was a reset year for Passion. During the open session, he focused a lot on re-establishing the vision behind the Passion movement. Isaiah 26:8 always has and will be the rock of this movement. I could easily go on forever about what the main session talks touched on, but to spare the space, here’s a couple of quotes that stood out to me the most.
Only one person was a victim in the gospel story. It’s a tough sell to a generation of victims. We are the perpetrators in the gospel story.
To the degree that self remains, is how far we still are from the cross.
If we aren’t careful, we will miss the beauty of being crushed by grace.
We are crushed by grace, then sent by mercy.
We tend to look for the next of the old thing rather than the new of the new thing. We look for the next Beth Moore, next Louie Giglio, but God is really all about doing a new thing.
Anyone you admire has gone through the dark room and continually goes into it. Nothing kills you faster than the spotlight.
Obviously, the context is what really gives power to these quotes, but you get the point. It’s incredible to hear from leaders in the Christian movement and listen to them pour out what’s in their heart. The word ‘Passion’ doesn’t even come close to what you experience coming out of someone like Louie when he gets on stage. It’s indescribable.
One of my favorite moments during these messages took place near the end of Christine Caine’s talk. She absolutely killed it and you could feel the breathlessness in the arena. As she was closing, she said “Now let’s see if I can land this plane.” My friend Craig quipped to me “haha, we aren’t landing man, we’re like in the freakin stratosphere.” So true. I don’t think you can really land what she launched that night.
New Year, Familiar Scenes
Just as I expected, Passion had an air of familiarity despite the fact it was a totally different conference. You could catch students sprawled out on various couches, the line for Starbucks was out the door, the expectation for the two days was extraordinarily high, and lives were radically changed.
One of the most incredible things about these days is that I get to spend them with one of my best friends. Hanging out at Passion is a tradition now. It’s been amazing to watch him change over the past four years from when he attended Passion 2011. We connect at Passion like nowhere else and the joy that both of us have during these days is uncontainable. He’s the reason why I ultimately discovered Passion and I can’t imagine my life without it. I’ll never forget that first time I sat in Passion City Church with him at my side and learned what Passion and Jesus were all about. My whole life changed.