For all the talk surrounding the alleged death of religion, one would assume that interest in spiritual themes is anemic at best. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While the proportion of Americans who count themselves as religiously-unaffiliated is on the rise, there’s still a great deal of interest in exploring faith and religion.
Consider the annual “Passion” conference, which is set to break its own attendance record this year. With 60,000 students and preachers slated to head to Atlanta to take part in the four-day Christian-themed event, it’s impossible to dismiss the ever-intense devotion that many still have to faith and religious structures.
As The Christian Post notes, the event’s purpose is focused around “making Jesus famous and fighting modern-day slavery.” Some of the biggest and most popular orators and faith-based musicians will address and perform for the massive audience at the Georgia Dome, as the collective group invokes faith to contend with complex, modern-day issues. The Post has more about the festivities, which began on Tuesday night and will extend through Friday:
In what will be the largest single Passion gathering in North America since the Passion movement began in 1995, attendees will hear from dynamic Christian speakers including Louie Giglio, John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Judah Smith, and Gary Haugen. Worship through music will also be an integral component of the conference, and lead musicians include Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Charlie Hall, David Crowder, Lecrae, and Jesus Culture.
The majority of conference participants are students and young professionals ages 18-25, along with youth ministry pastors and church leaders attending with their groups. In addition, over 2,500 volunteers – called “Door Holders” – have committed to serve during the conference with everything from registration and ushering to production and logistics.
On the conference’s web site, Pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion movement and a faith leader at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga., notes that the event is intended to “see a generation stake their lives on what matters most.” Naturally, from Giglio’s perspective, this sentiment is centered around a belief in Christianity and its central figure, Jesus Christ.
Here’s a promo for Passion 2013:
“Passion is more than a conference. More than an event. More than a feeling,” the web site proclaims. “Passion is you and me saying goodbye to lesser things and saying yes to the One whose name is above every name.”
So far, the movement has been highly successful. The first conference, held in 1997 in Austin, Texas, included 2,000 people. While large-scale in its own regard, this year’s expected 60,000 shows monumental growth (and 2013 is up quite a bit over 2012’s 42,000 attendee number). In addition to the annual event, there are also tours, regional gatherings and other related outreach mechanisms.
The Passion 2013 conference isn’t just about feel-good sermons and music that will enrich attendees. In addition to these attributes, the event is aimed at ending human trafficking — a horrific phenomenon that traps and exploits millions of people across the globe.
The conference is partnered with numerous anti-slavery groups and, during the 2012 initiative, more than $3.3 million was raised through the event to help stop trafficking. Attendees are also helping the poor and homeless, as they collect towels and socks and donate them to homeless shelters in the South.
You can watch the main sessions of the Passion 2013 conference for free (here’s the schedule) on a special live stream web site that has been setup for those who cannot attend. And be sure to find out more about Passion 2013 here.
(H/T: The Christian Post)