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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. Chris

    I think College Student hit the nail on the head. This many posts on such a small article just goes to show you that Jesus is working. Whether it makes people angry or argue, we are still talking about Jesus! This is great! So, please continue your arguments against Him. Please! Carry on, because in the end, you are still talking about Jesus. I’m just glad that I don't base my religion solely on proving others' wrong. That's a sad state to be in, in my opinion... Just like Paul said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." You can try to convince me otherwise, but as long as I'm here on earth you’re going to keep hearing about Jesus!

    January 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Jesus is working? Where'd he find the job?

      October 11, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  2. Witness

    "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
    And seeing you will see and not perceive;
    For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
    Their ears are hard of hearing,
    And their eyes they have closed,
    Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
    So that I should heal them."

    January 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  3. Le Timmy

    College kids know so much about nothing. A group of self-absorbed, liberal, tolerant eggheads whose mission in life seems to be evolving into being the thought police. KMA PUNKS!!

    January 14, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Amy

      We're life changers and believers and we're solid and walking with God, We're living for Him and in everything we do we pray and are happy and even in suffering we know we're doing it for God, and I will defend my faith till I die! And I'm at peace with my soul and thankful for every person that went to Passion2011. what do you believe in?

      January 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  4. College Student.

    It is amazing to me that such a small article could get this many comments. That right there should tell you that the name of JESUS is something to take note of. The things is, the heart of Jesus, is to Love. Not push himself on us, but peruse us. And that is the heart of the leaders of this conference. None of them push Jesus on students. It's the students who come from miles to worship our Jesus! Not just with music but with our lives.

    January 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  5. CGF - Passion Attendee

    in response to Peter's comment –
    I was told by a verteran Passion attendee that the lineup of worship leaders weren't revealed until right before the event. I had no idea who was going to lead worship until I got the map and list when I was there. And to be honest, I had never heard of ANY of these speakers until I got to hear them that week. And they blew me away with their wisdom and hearts that are on fire for God, who live to love Him. It was so encouraging, and unless you are physically there, it's hard to understand.

    January 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Margaret Bungard

    I just love how people say that there is no GOD.Did it ever occur to you,how do you breathe,eat sleep drink that latte in the morning.I have that answer,GOD!.I also love how people doubt Jesus.They call him just a Jewish preacher.Well,I am so happy that for more than 2,000 years JESUS is still offending liberals!PRAISE GOD!
    I can't wait to see your faces when YOU see JESUS!

    January 13, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Don

      The answer, Margaret, is your body's autonomic systems. Has nothing to do with some god. Go back to grade-school biology.

      January 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Amy

      And guess what. The most atheist molecular biologist did years of research and found that nothing in your body could have been created from NOTHING. SOMETHING had to create it. and GOD is that creator.

      January 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  7. Andrew

    I was at Passion 2011 and God worked in ways that can't be explained. I'm so excited to carry His name to people who need His love!

    January 13, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  8. brad

    Apparently, Jesus is Saviour in more than one sense. Without Him on which to focus their snide, petty, bitter, angry hate, the enemies of Christianity would surely turn against each other. His enemies should thank Him. He has saved them from each other.

    January 13, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  9. Sher

    I just don't understand why there has to be an argument about all this. We live in a free country,(that is getting to be debatable) and have the choice to believe as we chose. Why can't we just accept each other for who we are, believers in whomever we chose to be, and just get along with love, compassion, and acceptance. One day we will all realize where we truly come from, be it a creator, or whatever scientific theory you chose.

    January 13, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  10. jesusislove

    Are you an atheist, really? A true atheist wouldn't actually talk about atheism. They're actually too busy LIVING OUT their atheism to the fullest implications. So stop punching air, talking about God, Jesus, Bible and their followers. Please go, and live out the pure meaning of godlessness, in the most robust fashion you can imagine.

    January 13, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Don

      Why wouldn't a true atheist talk about atheism?

      January 13, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  11. Jdonaldson

    ooooh...22,000...don't that get that many for Monster truck shows?...the ancient Romans could turn out 70,000 at the Coliseum to watch a lion chase one of them around.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  12. zach

    I'm glad that the event was successful. It means our future might not be filled with gang bangers, pot smokers, brain dead people being unplugged, etcetera.

    January 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      So you think that this entertainment – which is all it was – will somehow prevent gang killings, marijuana use, and "brain dead people being unplugged"? That's pretty grandiose.

      You want brain-dead people kept on life support? Do you know what that kind of thing does to a family? Aside from the massive stress and emotional carnage, it wipes them out financially. Why are Christians so overwelmingly for the war, torture and the death penalty, but then get so wiggy about stuff like that?

      January 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  13. Cletus

    If you call yourself a Christian, yet you hunger for "an authentic encounter with Jesus," you fail.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • frank

      how?

      January 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  14. Peter Grothener

    As much as they try to play down the consumer mindset of this conference, it is riddled with it and it's exactly what repels me as a Christ-follower. These students come because it's cool–they worship Tomlin, Giglio, Piper and Beth Moore. The speakers come for "free" but is is sure to boost sales. Kristian Stanfield is convenient coming out with a new CD this week and it's all over passion twitter comments. It's sure to set him up for quite a profit.
    This event –not movement–sets up the local church for failure as the next generation will compare every preacher and true worship leader to the "celebrities" they saw at Passion Conferences. This does not build up body but creates a consumer driven generation only evaluating the next event or worship service and comparing it to the elusive Passion Conference.
    $1.1 million seems like incredible sacrifice until you think of the 22,000 that were there–that's $50 per student. Most paid 2 and 3 times that just to attend the event. True sacrifice would be these students giving up next years registration and sending it to Haiti and getting nothing out of it. As it is, these students got quite a deal from their registration fee and Passion ended up with millions in their pockets–I wonder how much of the registration fee Passion gave away.

    I distress. But still this conference does not help the pandemic issue of materialism and consumerism that is a plague to this generation and keeping them from true worship which expects nothing in return. Theae students paid to be entertained in worship and biblical teaching. And they got it for sure. Nothing but the best. Hope they dont pass the expectation to be wowed onto their small local churches where the budget is less than 1% of the Passion budget.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Josh

      Peter,

      Speaking from relationship, the guys at passion are not after the money.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Peter Grothener

      If they are not after money, then why bring the top celebrities in. How about some average run of the mill pastors and see how many students come. Everyone on here says they didn't care who was on stage...that's baloney. They came because of the line up. If not, then next year get unknown pastors and worship leaders up there and see if you can get 77,000 white christians to pack out the Georgia Dome.

      January 13, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

      With all due respect Peter, it was not just white Christians. My husband met people from Paris, France, an Indonesian young man who flew by himself to Atlanta to attend this conference, and many others from other countries, not of white descent. There were black students there, Asian students there, Brazilian students... My girls met many people of different ethnicities, and they worshipped together and had a great time. Wouldn't it be great if the whole world, people of all colors and races could get along like that in everyday life? They were in one accord, no squabbling, no fighting, no complaining, just sharing a love for Jesus Christ, and for each other. And these "entertainers" are not top celebrities. You don't see their names in lights. How many of the people here have ever heard of John Piper, Francis Chan, Christy Nockels, Michael Gungor or Louis Giglio before this article? Granted, Chris Tomlin is a bigger name, but I paid to see him at our state fair, so anyone who wants to see him can find him in many venues, and at a much cheaper price. Also, I truly believe that the Georgia Dome will be filled to capacity next year. This article also does not mention that Philips Arena was full, and there were about 6000 students watching from the Georgia World Congress Center. People had to be turned away, it was sold out. I believe if they had a facility that would hold 200,000 next year, it would be sold out as well. As for money, you don't just get Philips Arena and Georgia World Congress for four days for nothing, that costs money. The ticket price for these students probably barely, if even, covered that cost. I appreciate the opportunity to share, and I just urge anyone to youtube the Passion 2011, or any of the Passion videos on there, and look at them with an open mind. Thanks, and have a blessed day!

      January 13, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Peter Grothener

      Celebrities–the speakers and worship leaders they had were known well in advance onto website and they are the most popular in these Christian circles. Everyone has heard of Piper, Moore, Chan, Stanley, and Tomlin. Even Platt is the biggest new name out there. This kind of line up only leaves these kids disappointed when they return to their local chUrch that doesnt have a multi million dollar budget or volunteer base to compare to Passion. My beef with Passion is that it fuels the Christian consumer mindset. Students today go to these mega concerferneces and come home to their local church or campus ministry and say "you should have been at Passion. You should do what they do. I don't like this music. It's not as good as Passion. These preachers are not as good as Passion.". The only thing that will keep them pumped up is going back next year. Consumers–all of em.

      January 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  15. YHWH4ME

    Atheists & agnostics reading and commenting on this blog,

    I am always a bit curious about what it is that makes you want to read and comment on an article covering something you don't believe in? Maybe there is something deeper going on here...maybe God is calling you too? Since I used to be one of you, I know it's scary sometimes being on the outside and looking in...there is so much buzz out there that is incorrect and it is really frightening to think that you might be saying "yes" to a cult of some sort. Well, after 28 years on the outside and the last 16 on the inside, I can personally say that I have not yet shaved my head or given away all of my money to a corrupt guy who thinks he's actually God. LOL. What I have experienced has been increasingly more amazing every year...God has become more real to me all the time and has illuminated what is important in life. He has given me an incredible life of purpose, meaning, joy and peace. Not a perfect life, but one that stands in stark contrast to the empty life I had before.

    To all of you who have been harmed in some way by other people who claimed to be Christians, I am so sorry. That is not the way of Christ. He came to demonstrate a new way to live and was adamantly opposed to those in His day who were more interested in religious rituals and rules than in following God.

    Since I spent the first 60% of my life first as an atheist and then an agnostic, I understand how organized religion can look from the outside looking in. Some of the misperceptions are because people bearing the name of Christ really have no clue what they are talking about...it's not about who is right and who is wrong...it's about a God who loves us so much that He made a way for us to know Him personally. All He wants is for you to say yes to Him. That's it. It's not about politics, brainwashing and it certainly isn't about hatred of any sort. It's about a life of beauty and meaning, being one with our Creator.

    A true Christ follower would never attach strings to a gift of money or assistance to another person. A thorough understanding of God's word makes it clear that we are called to love others in practical ways whether they believe what we believe or not. This is how God operates. He isn't interested in forcing people to love and follow Him, He wants us to come because we desire Him. Certainly there are those out there who try to use assistance as a carrot but this is not right and we (Christ followers) must help correct this.

    To all of you who are reading and commenting on this blog who claim to be Christ followers, you are not being persecuted because someone else chooses to express their opinion about what you believe. That is a very long way from persecution. Remember that Christ was most patient and loving with those who were outside the faith.

    I was a volunteer at Passion 2011 and even though I have known Christ for many years, I felt a bit like the grinch whose heart grew exponentially throughout the conference...watching thousands of you college students rush down escalators and stand in lines for hours to donate what you had to help others have a better life. You are amazing. I have never seen such a large group of people, much less young people, who were so loving and so appreciative. I was one of the people directing you to exits and escalators and you really are beautiful. A true representative of what it means to love and follow God.

    Remember...He has called us out of darkness! Into light so glorious! You truly are a chosen generation.

    Grace and peace to all!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Proud mom of 2 attendees and wife of a volunteer Passion 2011

      I went to post and the page scrolled right as I clicked, and accidentally hit the Report Abuse button... Guess the devil didn't want me to post. So sorry. I see no way to contact anyone about it, so I am posting it here. Thank you for volunteering, and your words were beautifully written! God bless you, and hope that you will be back in ATL next year. After my husband volunteered, I cannot wait to go next year, and nothing but death will keep me from it! Have a blessed 2011!

      January 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Don

      Yeah, you were only an atheist until your parents brainwashed you at an early age, YHWH4ME. Please don't lie (which yes, is what you're doing) and say that it wasn't like that. I've seen too many christians who didn't go to church for a year say that was their "atheist" period. So please: don't lie.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Brandon

    Many things that have been posted have been misguided and I would like to clear up.
    1. This conference is not about huddling together and keeping Jesus to ourselves, It is about making Christ famous, it in a sense is a "pep-rally" i guess, but the goal of this conference is to give students a chance to worship Christ and learn more about Christ and how to grow closer to Him in relationship. This also gives college aged people a chance to give money towards many different organizations who are fighting for those who are afflicted with hunger,thirst, slavery, and many other afflictions.
    2. No one is saying that 2011 is the year of Christ's return (or end of the earth), or any other year for that matter, He will come like a thief in the night, no one will know the time or day.
    SIDE NOTE: It seems that somehow Christians having a gathering in the name of Christ is offensive? It seems that the same people who are against this happening are for "equality" and have a quote "liberal" view... shouldn't that imply that they would be tolerant of the way in which all people worship..or choose not to worship.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  17. Witness

    To Molly, Kaylee, Keri and all the attendees, from all who volunteered – you're so welcome! It was a joy to serve. Your excitement for the for the Lord and deepening desire to follow His will for your life just glowed from you all. You filled our tanks beyond measure. The best way to show your appreciation for our service is to pass on what you've received to family, friends and any who are needy and heavy laden.
    Continue to lift up Ft. Worth in prayer.

    You ARE that Chosen Generation!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  18. Kalos

    <--- Thinks that a lot of the arguments against Christianity posted by trollers on this thread are pretty tired.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  19. Mr. Sniffles

    Adolf Hitler filled stadiums too, and all the attendees there came out with their faith reaffirmed and enlarged.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Lucas

      Comparing God and Hitler... smh. They are in two TOTALLY different ballparks. Hitler was mentally unstable, and God, He is THE ONE who created us... He is all-knowing, omnipresent, and just wants a relationship with you. that's all He wants.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      So does your favorite sports team! Your point, Sir?

      January 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Naziism – a deluded ideology that resulted in war, torture, imprisonment, oppression, and misery.

      Religion – a deluded ideology that resulted in war, torture, imprisonment, oppression, and misery.

      Sports – No ideology, war, torture, or oppression. No mosery unless your team loses, and imprisonment only if you get drunk and rowdy. Not the same.

      Nuremberg Rallies – A mass event where followers become enraptured with their messiah. The enraptured state will psychologically enable followers to commit atrocities in the name of the ideology.

      Passion conference – A mass event where followers become enraptured with their messiah. The enraptured state has often historically psychologically enabled followers to commit atrocities in the name of the ideology.

      Hitler got a much better turnout.

      January 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  20. Anna

    To all you arguing your point, your opinions, your belief.
    Truth will always be debated and no good argument is going to change your mind. You will believe what you want to believe.
    So, if the best way for you to spend your time is trying to dispove Jesus or organizations, you're wasting it, because all your words won't change what Jesus(yes Jesus-that name that is so offensive to you!) did in our lives. Because it wasn't by the words of men!

    Jesus is alive in us.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
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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.