If you had wandered into Passion 2018, you may have thought you were coming into a concert. On January 1-3 Atlanta’s Philips and Infinite Energy Arenas along with Washington DC’s Anthem were loaded with lights, video screens, and high-end sound systems. There were tons of college age students clapping and singing and raising their hands but, if you stayed long enough, you would have noticed that the songs were about God. You would also have heard prayers, Bible readings and encouraging speakers. By this time, you might have thought that this was a church. Passion Conferences are somewhere in between.
The conferences have grown since their inception in 1997 from a few thousand in attendance to tens of thousands. Jonathan Sheehan is the Director of Events and the Passion Global Brand Curator. He tells us the movement started with founder and Director Louie Giglio’s vision to reach 18-25 years olds. “We realize that college students are in a significant point, where you can really shape the trajectory of what their life is going to be like.” In the spirit of Billy Graham’s Youth for Christ rallies in the 1950s, the Passion team wants to reach these young people with the positive message of Jesus.
Jonathan tells us that, in addition to music and teaching, a significant part of Passion is to call young people to action. “We have opportunities for students to engage in causes around the world such as modern day slavery or sponsoring children in other countries where they don’t have access to health care or food or clean water or education. Some kind of call to engage with the last and the least of these around the world.”
It Takes Tech
Rusty Anderson is a Video Producer for Passion. He tells us that in order to reach students, it requires a level of technology — technology with a purpose. “Overall, our goal from a production standpoint, is to create moments and create environments where students can be inspired creatively, because we believe that we worship a God who is the most creative.”
He tells us that in order to reach students, it requires a level of technology — technology with a purpose.
Jonathan tells us that the large screens are especially important in these big venues. It is absolutely necessary to bring the crowd closer. “It allows the attendees to be able to connect with what a speaker or a worship leader is trying to say. The emotion, energy and heart of what they are trying to convey comes across better if they can see that.” So with a tech crew of 164, they provided high-quality sound, video, graphics and lighting within the three massive arenas. This year the crowd numbered around 33,000 in attendance.