Our longtime friend Louie Giglio, founder and leader of the Passion Movement and related conferences, is interviewed online at worshiptogether.com and Worship Musician Magazine. In the discussion Louie talks about how his ministry got started, evolved, and developed into the Passion we know today. A couple of quotes lending insight into the Passion Conferences (the latest of which is coming up in January in Atlanta), from the interview given around the time of Passion ’06:
What we’re trying to do is wed some things together: worship music (which is different from worship, it’s part of worship) and amazingly deep theological teaching. Passion is not about music; Passion is about theology. Most people don’t know that until they get there. They come through the worship door, saying, I’ve got the CD, man. I love Passion. I can’t wait to get to this worship event. They come through the door, and these messages fall on them like a truck. And they’re like, I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t ready for teaching to rock me down at the core of my life. But when you wed any expressions of worship and the teaching of God’s Word, the truth is what sets you free, not the music. Music makes you feel good, but the truth is what sets you free. When you put those two things together and you add to them a call to action, then I think you’re finding a sweet spot for what worship is.
If the call to action is not there, then we’re just soaking up a great experience, and man, give me more, more, more, more. We are consuming worship. The point of worship, though, as far as I can tell from reading the Bible cover to cover, is not for people to consume the worship, but for people to be consumed in the worship for the glory of God.
Here’s my life, Lord, use me any way you want to for your kingdom. If you take that out, then you’re just consuming. We consume these songs so fast: Thank you, that was a great song. Thank you so much, we’re finished with that now. New song, please. People at our churches go, We don’t want to sing that song anymore, that’s old. We want to sing this new song. We’re just consuming the music.
The truth of the matter is, we are supposed to be the consumee, not the consumer. God is the consumer, we’re the consumee. We come into worship and say, Here’s my life. And God says, Thank you, I’m going to take your life and burn it up as an offering for me. When these three are together—worship in music, teaching that rocks kids’ world views, and the expression of how to live it out—then worship is in a zone. If you take any of the three away, then you’re missing it. If you’ve got super-tight theology (and we have incredible mission focus), but there’s not this heart/soul/mind/all-of-me emotion, this engaging, full-on, killer response to God in worship, then we’re missing it. If you have that and social action, but you don’t have any strong teaching for a foundation, then you don’t have it. If you have great music and strong teaching, but don’t have an expression and outlet, then you still don’t have it. I think it’s those three pieces coming together….
…These students sat in Gaylord Arena for 45-minute chunks of teaching from people like John Piper. The guy isn’t talking in fairytale land, he’s unpacking some big-time theology. And they’re sitting there glued to it like they’re watching MTV. And that happened session after session after session after session. When the music starts or ends, it’s no wonder an eruption happens, because truth is unlocking.
This is a phrase that I haven’t published a lot, but Passion’s secret heartbeat is “theologically informed freedom.” We don’t care if kids dance in the aisles or if every hand in the house is raised. We don’t care if people are shouting or if they sing a spontaneous song. Let there be freedom! But l want the freedom to not be emotionally informed or musically informed (like if I play this certain chord progression, I can get everyone’s hands in the air). I want it to be theologically informed. I want truth to smack their lives so hard it unleashes this uncalculated freedom in their lives. When that happens, I have a confident hope that maybe it can continue when the music isn’t on. So my new little thing that I’ve been carrying around lately is, “Let’s turn down the music and turn up the worship.” And that’s from a guy who’s putting out a worship CD tomorrow! I am so for music, but let’s not just keep turning the music up. At some point, let’s turn the music down and see if the worship is still there.