Contributed by Evin Gladin
The Passion Conference 2016 was a spectacular gathering of 18-25 year olds called the “Jesus Generation,” across three arenas and two states, totaling more than 40,000. Speakers from all over the world drop spiritual truth bombs over the course of three crazy days such as:
- “Come and see, and go and tell. This is your assignment” – Louis Giglio.
- “Don’t strive to stay alive, but to stay in love with God” – John Piper.
- “God didn’t conquer in spite of the darkness, but through it” – Ravi Zacharias
- “There should be a burden on those who walk in freedom to free others” – Chris Cane
The Reverb and Connect ministries partnered to take close to 20 students to the conference, all going in with mixed expectations. One thing was clear after the first night, our expectations got blown out of the water. With powerhouses such as Hillsong, David Crowder, and the Passion band facilitating worship, it was hard not to feel the incredible power of the Lord working. But with a conference of this scale, it’s easy to get lost in the production of it all. To bring it back to the individual level, Passion began and ended each day with a time spent in Community Groups. These were groups of 6-8 people that had never met before the conference, and what started off as a bit of an awkward exchanging of names and numbers, turned into an incredibly impactful way to break down the talks.
What was truly encouraging was watching the students who went on the trip challenged and lift up each other through the course of the conference. Meal time conversations were often about take aways from the talks right before, or how they felt they were being challenged. When asked how she felt God grew her at Passion Anna Beyer said, “I have grown more confident in my faith and have a better idea of my purpose in this world.” Often times though, we can’t be grow in our faith with out some pain of reshaping and healing. Some of the students who went with us experienced that pain as the Lord brought up things from their past, or revealed current burdens to their soul that needed to be cut away. This led to times of vulnerability and impromptu group prayer in parking lots and car rides.
As impactful as our time in Atlanta was, if the truth that was spoken during the conference is allowed to die out with the high that often results from large spiritual gatherings, then what was the point? As Chris Cane said to those that were there, “Passion is about the people who aren’t at Passion.” Our charge as the Jesus Generation is to go and tell to those who we interact with every day. That calling isn’t just for those that went to Passion. Part of the challenge given to the Northstar students was how they can put into action what they learned here in Blacksburg. Luke Luehr responded with, “I definitely feel like what I learned at Passion will be more than relevant for my Northstar small group. I can’t wait to share with them what I have learned and how it can be applied to our everyday lives. In addition, I like many other college students, have a significant number of secular friends. This conference fueled a flame within me to turn them into followers of Christ.” Thankfully we are not called to do this alone. As a community of people who want to Be the Church, this challenge is for you as well. Walk beside us as we continue to try and live out the call to tell of what the Lord has done.