Q&A: Louie Giglio
Giglio, founder of Passion Conferences and record label sixstepsrecords, took Passion on its first overseas tour last fall. He also started a church with Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin in Atlanta. Passion City Church held its first service February 15.
What differences did you notice between American and international Passion conference attendees?
By my observation the world is shrinking. Once you put a room full of 18-year-olds together, you realize how small the world is getting. Our audiences have different skin color or facial features, but they visit the same websites, listen to the same music, wear the same clothes. Homogenization of youth culture is happening at a rapid pace.
What kinds of follow-up discipleship are being done with the attendees?
Our strategy was to do a lot of front end work for this tour. We formed a volunteer team for every city. That team went to the cities months before we arrived. The process was to find anybody breathing who had any desire to reach a campus for Christ. We built relationships with these men and women so when we walked away from someplace like Kiev, we didn't just say, "What an amazing thing!" We walked away knowing these leaders are still here. They can carry on what's going on.
Why are you planting a new church in Atlanta?
In my heart something has been changing and turning for about the last five years. Christ died for the local church. While I've spoken at many of them, and Passion has influenced them around the world, I want to be able to lay down at the feet of Jesus and say I gave it a shot—I tried to build into the local community of faith that he gave his life for, that he loved, and that he believed is the best agent for change in the world.
It's about a man who wants to be obedient to God. It's about me, at 50, hearing the voice of God and saying yes, I will follow that.
How have you recruited the staff for your church?
I've never recruited one person. Most of the people I know and respect are already involved in local churches. All Shelley and I did was start saying to our friends, "This is what God has done in our hearts. We think we're crazy, but we feel like we want to pastor a local community of faith with the DNA of Passion."
Our friends said, "Tell us when and where and we will be there."
With you as the senior pastor, and Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin leading worship, many have been calling this a "superstar church." What's your take on that?
All I say to [criticism] is, well, you'll have to take that up with God. There is some history on the side of God putting gifted people in the same space at the same time. The purpose is not to congregate ability but to foster a movement that will reach the cities of the nation and the world. History is on our side and Jesus is on our side because he is the one who promised to grow the church. I'm not starting anything. Jesus started the church. This is not going to be Louie's church. This is Jesus' church. To the degree that we can let it be his and not ours—then it will be amazing.
What will happen to the Passion conferences? Will they still continue?
Right now we're going to hold it all together as best we can, by the grace of God. God has given us a platform, a footing with university students that we cannot relinquish. It's been a gift of God that somehow we have had the favor to gather people and propel them out for God's kingdom agenda around the world. Passion 2010 will be back in Atlanta. We're expecting somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 university students here from around the world.