Louie Giglio: Church Splits, Passion, and God's Presence
So theologically, the epiphany came from having grown up with Southern Baptist theology, which ended with a lot of commas and not many periods like, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” For 99 percent of church people, that’s the end of that verse. Maybe one out of 2,000 can quote the next part: “and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” I realized we were all just living in the first part—the idea that “Christ died for you; do you think you can live for Him?” It was the end of every [Christian] camp, right? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that won’t work. It’s a high dive with no water in the pool.
In my pre-Passion days, the theological epiphany was, “Yes, Christ was crucified for sin but was raised to bring life. He is the life that I can’t live.” For me, that was a 180. It changed the whole trajectory of my life.
In 2008, you took Passion events to the world, visiting 17 global cities, and then in 2010 returned to seven of those cities on Passion World Tour 2010. What did you glean about the church from these travels?
I was surprised by the homogeneity of 18-year-old Euro-culture. In the past, we spent a lot of time trying to be culturally sensitive so we could bridge cultural gaps—like sing songs in their language and not be the white people coming to sing songs. But when we would do a song in their language, they would clap as if to say, “OK, that was great. Nice try on the Portuguese. Can we sing it in English now?”
For example, we’d sing a song in Japanese or Chinese or you name it. There’d be this feel-good moment, but zero attitude in the worship. But as soon as we began to sing the same song in English, the room blew up in affection for Jesus. We just shook our heads because it’s really not about the East and the West anymore. I don’t think 18-year-olds are making that distinction or are struggling with saying, “Hey, white man, come to my country, but make sure you adopt my customs and my idioms to make a cultural bridge toward me.” I think what they’re saying is, “Hey!” That’s it—that’s all the stuff that’s between us and them.
I was driving in a car with a 31-year-old pastor in Korea. He didn’t know what Passion was. He only knew me because he’s picking me up at the airport. He’d never heard of Chris Tomlin. He’s just a 31-year-old pastor of a 50,000-member church. I'm going to this event [in Seoul], thinking there’s literally no context here for what we’re doing.
When they introduced me and mentioned Passion, the audience went nuts. When Chris Tomlin was mentioned, the place erupted. These young folks knew what was going on. It showed me that the gap between a 31-year-old and a 20-year-old was a mile wide.