Louie and Shelley Giglio are two names in the church today that the majority of Christians know of and seem to flock to. They started their own church in Atlanta, Georgia with the mission of inviting people in to experience the love of Jesus and have been catalysts for several movements with God at the forefront. Since starting their church, Passion City Church, they also started a conference by the same name twenty-three years ago.
Passion Conference is a Christian conference set over the course of a few days for 18-25-year-olds. Ever since I heard about it early on in high school, I have wanted to go. But I never had the opportunity until this year. I went with a few friends from my campus ministry at Longwood University and it was a time I will never forget.
These are just a few of my favorite moments from Passion 2020:
1. Counting down the clock.
Passion 2020 fell over New Year's Eve and Day, so what better way to ring in the year than singing praises to Jesus? Better yet, at the exact moment 2019 turned into 2020, Hillsong UNITED was singing their song "Good Grace" with the 65,000+ of us. Needless to say, we kept singing well past midnight!
Okay, so obviously you're probably thinking about those uncomfortable plastic wristbands almost every concert makes you wear. You know, the ones you put on and tell yourself it isn't too tight, while secretly wishing you hadn't secured it *that much*
Those aren't the ones I'm talking about. I'm talking about white ones that look almost like Apple watches or FitBits and they light up in succession with the songs. When we got there, all of us had one in our seats but we didn't know what would happen with them. That is until the beat dropped and the entire stadium was lit up by our wristbands! It was crazy!
3. The individual sessions.
Levi Lusko, John Piper, Sadie Robertson, Ravi Zacharias, Christine Caine, Tim Tebow, and Louie and Shelley Giglio. The speakers were all so individual and amazing on their own, but I think my favorites (or at least the ones that impacted me the most) were Sadie Robertson and Christine Caine.
Sadie started out with a very simple question found in John 1: "What are you seeking?" Jesus asked this of John and two other disciples when they caught sight of him walking by one day. And that question sparked all three of them following Jesus for the next three years that he would minister to the masses - all because Jesus took the time to ask what they truly wanted, and to remind them of what they were currently seeking. This question is a solid assessment of God's importance in our lives. If we are seeking anything first other than the face of Jesus, then we're looking towards things that won't fulfill us eternally as Jesus does. And I'm preaching to the choir as I type this, believe me!
Christine talked about connecting back to God, back to the source of it all when we're weary and tired. She also spoke on walking away from our past and into the continual purpose God has for us. I think we can get so caught up in trying to figure out our purpose on this Earth when our greatest commandment is to love others and share Jesus' love with them. I think we all have individual callings, but our purpose is united together as a body.
4. The MERCH.
Obviously, the entire conference is all about connecting with Jesus, rather than fangirling over a certain speaker or band, but Passion 2020 merchandise was on point and I have to thank whoever made that so! Attendees of the conference had the opportunity to purchase apparel, books, bible studies, and more from all of the people who helped put on the conference. These materials go into making sure attendees don't just come and experience Passion and then go home and God stays in the stadium. That's not how this Jesus thing works. Bible studies, books, and all of the merchandise is both a reminder of this impactful time and a stepping stone for people to stay connected to God's Word after they go home.
5. Jesus showed up.
I don't mean a dude dressed as Jesus physically showed up. And I'm not claiming that Jesus only shows up when we fill stadiums with people worshipping. God can show up in your kitchen as you're cooking dinner, your dorm room as you're crying from stress or lack of sleep, and in any space that you can possibly think of. That's the great thing about Jesus! He allows us to have complete, constant, consistent access to the Father! That being said, this conference reawakened my faith in a sense because I was reminded yet again of the power and love of Jesus. And y'all, Jesus felt so near even as I stood among so many other people up in the nosebleed section!
Those are just a few reasons why I loved my first experience at Passion. If you have the opportunity to go, I encourage you to check it out! You genuinely feel the love of God and are so so strengthened when you're around other believers singing praises to Jesus and growing in faith.