This article is from Issue 55: Jan/Feb 2012

An Accidental Movement

For 15 years, few things have made the spiritual impact of passion. So where is the iconic worship movement heading?

There's a reason why thousands of young people mark their calendars (and scratch together enough cash) to attend Passion events year after year. From the beginning, Passion has always been different. It’s spawned hundreds of worship songs—many of which are sung every Sunday at any given church. But it’s different than a worship concert tour. Passion is also different from other conferences or revivals. Different from other “crusades.” And even different from one year to the next. One year there might be 12 events around the world. One year there might be one centralized event in Atlanta that draws 25,000 people. The next year there might not be an event at all.

It’s not a sensible business model, a smart “ministry strategy” or even logical. But it’s what you get when you have leaders whose most pressing goal is to follow the Spirit.

“I love how Passion has always felt like a movement and not just a good idea or a clever organization,” says worship leader Matt Redman, who has been with Passion for more than a decade. “No two years ever look quite the same. There’s a sense of adventure about the whole thing.”

“The thing for us that has been good and bad is we really are trying to follow the Spirit, so our path isn’t linear,” says Passion founder Louie Giglio. “I have nothing but respect for Urbana, for example, doing a World Missions gathering every three years. I think that’s awesome, but I don’t think that’s in our DNA. We’re not in the ‘conference business,’ but we feel we’re in the movement, and we want that movement to be blown along by the Spirit of God.”

Chris Tomlin, who has been a songwriter with Passion nearly since its inception, admits there have been times when he’s thought to himself: “Why can’t we just do another conference? Why try something new when we already know what works?”

“That’s what I’ve always thought,” Tomlin says. “But I trust God is speaking and leading. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s just increased my faith so much to see God come through in all these ways. I’m glad I’m on this team.”