College kids feeling passion for conference
January 11th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

College kids feeling passion for conference

By Steve Almasy, CNN

The Passion conference is more than just a huge gathering of college-age kids, organizers say.  the recent Atlanta conference was a call for the next generation to make Jesus a focal point in their lives and to share that passion with others, they said.

"Church was never meant to be an island of self-indulgence, but a missional community of Jesus-followers so in love with Him that they can do nothing else but carry His name to the world," pastor Louie Giglio said in an e-mail this week.

The event drew more than 22,000 students to the Georgia capital's convention center and to Philips Arena. It was even more successful than Giglio had hoped for.

"It is truly inspiring to see a generation that is so hungry for an authentic encounter with Jesus ... one that exchanges consumer-driven Christ for Christ-centered obedience," said Giglio.

One of the main spots at the conference, a convention floor full of booths for 10 carefully selected charities that the Passion movement works with throughout the year. The call went out to the college kids to spend time at the exhibits and find one that moved them.

On a Monday night, the third of a four-day event, thousands of kids dressed in t-shirts and jeans weaved their way through the exhibits. They took brochures and enthusiastically chatted as volunteers explained what each cause was about.

The stereotype is that college kids never have much money, but these kids dug deep. Some even brought in containers filled with money they had raised or saved.

Some donated what little money they had, some brought material goods, many gave from there hearts, officials said. Every charitable goal was surpassed, not by a little but by a lot.

The goal was to raise $500,000 for the charities, but after the conference, Do Something Now, the fundraising campaign of the Passion Conferences, announced that it had raised $1.1 million for Compassion International, Hope International, Haiti Transformed, International Justice Mission, Bibles Unbound, World Made Flesh, Joint Aid Management, Cure International, Living Water International, and the Atlanta Mission and City of Refuge (kids brought socks and towels for the homeless).

Giglio says it is compelling to see 18- to 22-year-olds giving to the causes that matter most.

"The fact that 22,000 university-aged young people would journey to Atlanta and gather for the name of Jesus is staggering in and of itself," he wrote. "But the fact that, as a result of His grace in their lives, they would pool their resources to the tune of $1.1 million to fund 10 local and global causes signifies a massive shift."

Students got to hear from pastor John Piper, who returned from an eight-month leave of absence, Francis Chan, and Beth Moore. The students sat intently, many taking notes, writing down the references to scripture passages. Afterward, they left, so moved barely a word was uttered.

They also were treated to warm up music from Chris Tomlin and his fellow artists on the sixstepsrecords label. The resulting live album (yet to be titled) will be released March 8. Last year's CD went to No. 1 on the Christian charts and featured the radio single "Our God."

A second Passion event is scheduled for April 1 in Fort Worth, Texas. Tickets are still available, a spokesperson said.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Music

soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Congratulations to the organizers and attendees of Loserpalooza! Nothing like a stadium full of tanglebrains to prove that God is real.

    Stadiums full of people prove professional wrestling is real also.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  2. CGF - Passion Attendee

    I completely agree with Witness, Josh, Ethan, and Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011. Some people just won't understand unless they physically go there. I almost died in a car accident 3 years ago and it completely turned my life around. I realized what was really worth living for, the One and Only God who is truly alive and working. It's not a religion, it's a real relationship with Christ who is alive and working today. I am a skeptic myself, and it's easy to blow God off and say He's not real. But thank goodness my eyes have been opened. Just a small testimony is by looking at all the lives He's changed. Convicts, the depressed, the suicidal, the poor and depressed and needy. They aren't clinging onto some "fake God that's a crutch". God really does show Himself in many ways, it's just up to us to acknowledge it or blow it off. And I agree with the tolerance convo earlier....I don't agree with the athiests, or agnostics, or other people who bash the Lord that created us and loves us and wants a relationship with us....but I will love and respect them all the same. When you truly understand what Jesus came to accomplish for us....to give us hope and save us from this broken, messed up world...then you will understand why we love others and SHOW His love. Not out of necessity, or pressure, or fear, but because you are so blown away, grateful, in awe of His love, that it fills you up and you can't contain it. You do things like donate and love and care because His love is IN you and you are a reflection of HIM. None of us are perfect, but for the attendees of the conference, we know what we need...and Who has come to give us that.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  3. muse123

    All of the non believers I would just like to say yall are looking at this as a "Christian" view as a religion. I attended the conference and Its more than just being called a Christian its a lifestyle and a relationship with Christ. Yea you might not believe just think we are just believing in something made up but we are not. Christ is alive and living in this world. He loved us first he deserves the glory. I will pray for all of you. God Bless

    January 12, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Don

      It's looked upon as a religion because it IS a religion. Couching it as a "relationship" is cowardly.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • muse123

      I didnt say it wasn't a religion. I said it was more than that its a lifestyle like I said. Our purpose in life is to give God the glory and show his love to others and to strive to whats after this life and that is to be with him. There is more in this life than just living for ourselves in trying to find things in this earth to satisfy our needs, there is really no point to life if thats all were going to do. God put us here on this earth for a reason and not waste the opportunity he has given us. He loved us first and he deserves our service. He loves you to always remember that!

      January 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Don

      My purpose in life is to be the best me I can be, period. You only get one go at it, and that's it. No afterlife. No god. Nothing. If that terrifies you–oh well. Cope.

      January 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • muse123

      You get nothing out of that why not make something productive of your life. God didn't create you just to live and die and that be it. Thats just dumb he wants us to enjoy life and live it to the fullest while giving him glory and then be with Him.

      January 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  4. aginghippy

    The fact that millions of people around the world consider their heart, a muscle that pumps blood, to be a thinking part of their body, is frightening enough. The fact that millions of people around the world fail to realize that "faith" is CHOOSING to believe that which is obviously not true, is infuriating. But to see thousands of college kids, those who hold the future of our nation in their hands, ignoring the education available to them regarding the sciences of evolution and cosmology, not to mention the history of their own religion, well, that is absolutely terrifying.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  5. Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

    I am surprised at all the people with negative comments, you probably preach tolerance for everything, except Christians. Where is your tolerance? And who are you to question anybody's faith or religion and how they choose to express that? You want us to tolerate you, how about afford Christians the same courtesy. What we believe in our hearts, that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he died and rose again to save us from our sins and how we choose to express that, either through a Christian conference, or by helping the homeless in Atlanta, or building homes for earthquake-torn Haiti, or rescuing people from human trafficking, or being able to supply clean water to people in India, shouldn't affect you so much, unless God is convicting you.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Don

      Tolerance doesn't mean you have to like something; it just means you don't try to prevent it.

      January 12, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

      So you are saying that you don't like helping others Don?

      January 12, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Don

      Well that's a great non sequitur. How about you try again, only this time have a conclusion which logically follows.

      January 12, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Mary

      Just let my gay son have his civil rights and I will fight to help you keep yours. I am a former born again Christian who now just prays for wisdom.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Sybaris

      You don't need a fantasy diety to motivate you to do good things.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

      Sybaris, He may be fantasy to you, but He is very real to these 22,000 kids, and to millions more around the world. God bless.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Anna

      Say it!

      January 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Sybaris

      Proud mom your diety is a fantasy to billions more around the world. If you were born and raised in those country's you'd think it was a fantasy too.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

      Sybaris, that is the beauty of my God, He does not force anyone to believe on Him. God gives us all free will, to accept Him, or not. As for myself, I would much rather live my life believing there is a God, and find out that there is not, although that will not happen, than to live my life believing there is no God, and find out that there was. Just know that God loves us all, every one of us on this earth who has ever lived, and will ever live, the same. Even though you may not believe in Him, He still loves you, and any person who believes on Jesus, loves you too!

      January 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Don

      There is no free will with your god, Proud mom. It is simply impossible for us to have free will if your god-which is defined in part as the omniscient creator of everything–exists.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  6. Sybaris

    "It is truly inspiring to see a generation that is so hungry for an authentic encounter with Jesus ... "

    Really? Did he do an encore?

    Religion..........the ultimate ponzi scheme!!

    January 12, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  7. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    Christiankity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from you soul that is present in humanity becase a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat fruit from a magical tree.
    Yeah, makes perfect sense.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  8. jim

    It's very sad to see so many young people giving up on reality and seeking solace in fairy tales. I hope someday they will examine the illogical maze they have immersed themselves in just to sustain their faith in this long-dead prophet of theirs.

    January 12, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  9. Justina

    These young people are the hope of the world, lifting up the name of true Hope for all mankind, Jesus. God bless them all! When Christians gather, they always engage in good, most excellent works of love, giving beyond their ability. Christians are the best!!

    January 12, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  10. doctore0

    Brainwashing is what this is.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  11. Ethan

    This was the very first Passion that I have ever attended and I regret that, only because I wish I could have been there since I was a senior in high school! I've only been a true "child of God" for about two and a half years now. I gave my life around Christmas of my freshman year in college and I only wish it would've been sooner in my life. I wasn't properly informed about how life would hit me when I entered college. Let's just say I saw too many things in a short amount of time, but now that my life is changed and all I want is to spread the name of Christ to the whole world everything is so amazing now. I don't mean it's easier, just better! If life is anything is tougher now, but I like it that way! Anybody can put themselves first, but how many can live for Jesus and put everyone else before themselves? And this Passion Conference has really shown me that I wasn't living that way and that's the way I should be living! Thank you Giglio and everyone else associated with Passion for being a mighty tool for God and following His instructions! Also thank you Almasy for your passage written to inform everyone about Passion and Jesus Christ, you have just done a mighty work for God!

    January 12, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Sybaris

      If you were born and raised in Saudi Arabia you'd be making the same claims about Muhammed. Likewise, if you had been born and raised on Crete some 4,000 years ago you'd most likely be following Zeus.

      Free your mind, don't waste your time.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  12. Keri

    I just wanted to say that I was at Passion2011 in Atlanta and yes we had Chris Tomlin and David Crowder and many other great musicians. We also had Beth Moore, Francis Chan and other awesome speakers.... But that was NOT the reason we were there... God was the reason we were there... and every person there was there for a reason!! Can you imagine standing there with 22,000+ college students and 200+ "door holders"? Well I was standing there in the Phillips Arena and I looked around and all those college students and door holders, had their hands raised high praising and singing to the Lord... I mean that is just a small glimpse of Heaven! Do Something Now, which is where we all gave over $1.1 million to not benefit us or to get on good terms with God.... But we did it so we could share the love of Jesus with the whole world!! We live in a country that we are free to have religion, but there are many many countries that dont have that. We gave 18,400 towels and 88,000 pairs of socks to homeless shelters in the Atlanta area... We sent 31,554 Bibles to Columbia... To spread the love of Jesus!! I know this was a little long but I just wanted to tell you all that Jesus loves you and we love you too!!
    God Bless You All 🙂

    January 12, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • Maynard G. Krebs

      That was a small glimpse of heaven? Doing that for the rest of eternity? Sounds like hell to me.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  13. HotAirAce

    Giving to the needy is good. Indoctrinating young people into man made supernatural tribal myths is not. There are no gods...

    January 12, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Lucas

      How do you that are no "gods"?

      January 12, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Lots of reading and thinking. I "know" there are no gods to the same extent that a believer "knows" there are. Yup – my opinion based on everything I read, see hear and think.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Amy

      Youre your own worst enemy. Your own thoughts are deceiving and I'm sure the research was based off of what someoneELSE thought as well. God is real and to believe in nothing would be contradicting because you cannot create something from nothing, unless you consider yourself nothing as well. And if in fact you believe you are nothing then there is no purpose or reason for you living.

      January 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  14. jordygordy

    @ david johnson, jesus is our saviour! think of it this way: there's a moracle drug that was just created to and can give the user eternal life, Wouldn't you want someone to share the gift of eternal life with you? Or horde it for them selves? That's why christians share their belief with the rest of the world.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Q

      Drugs are subjected to double-blinded studies to validate their efficacy. Not a particularly good analogy for supporting a purely faith-based claim.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  15. christenedHeart

    Or 22,000 empassion people wanting to help the needy

    January 12, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  16. Reality

    Saving Christians from the Resurrection Con job and therefore no more need to attend Passion conferences:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • FrankC

      Fascinating. 2000 years later "scholars" are determining the truth regarding the reports of the eye witnesses who all (except for John) went to their deaths declaring the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Just think for a minute about what you're saying and believing. No sane person goes to a brutal death KNOWING that what they're claiming is not true. Either all the eye witnesses were completely insane, or He indeed did rise from the dead. Whis is more likely? Seriously; think about it.

      January 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  17. Art

    I hope Pastor Louie was paid a lot and has been paid generously for organizing this and previous events like this all over the world. He deserves it. I doubt he was paid anything from what was given at the Do Something Now event. I trust Pastor Louie answers to a qualified accountability group who genuinely fear God that they will do what is right. That's known as trust. No doubt that the most critical and condemning people here were doubtfully in attendance and therefore lack specific qualification to even offer what they might think is a genuine comment. I also stand amazed that those who proclaim and proselytize atheism hold dear to statements that are equal to or greater in faith then a statement like, "Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death." I draw one logical conclusion – the human condition is spiritually needy regardless of what one believes!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Kaylee

      He did not keep a dime.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  18. JCizzle

    22,000 delusional idiots.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      I am still wondering, since you hate it so much, why do you even bother to care and post?

      January 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  19. Kaylee

    Okay, believer or not, this conference raised over 1 million to help the less fortunate. I don't see any way you can condemn that.
    I attended this conference, anc trust me, Jesus Christ is ALIVE and WORKING.
    And you, yes you, reading this, He loves you. More than you can ever imagine. He doesn't care about your past, He just wants a relationship with you. You can persecute me all you want for believing this, but that's okay. The Bible tells me I'll be persecuted, so by doing do, you're really not doing anything but firhter proving the Bible. 🙂
    Again, God loves you, and I love you too. I'm going to pray for everyone who posted on this. 🙂
    Believe me or not, but one day you WILL admit it.
    Romans 14:11 "One day, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is Lord."
    Later 🙂

    January 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Keri

      Kaylee, I am right there with you sister!! Also, i think you said in a previous post that seeing these comments it makes me want to go spead the name of Jesus to everyone even more!!! Thanks Louie for reminding us of that!!! 🙂 God Bless You Kaylee!
      Love your sister in Christ -Keri

      January 12, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  20. Dave

    How much did ol' pastor Louie keep? I'll bet a LOT more than most would think!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Kaylee

      Do a little research about him. He didn't keep a dime.

      January 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.