Door Holders 2012
I’ve attended Passion Conference before, but only as an observer or guest. But this year I decided to volunteer, primarily because of the investment the Passion organization continues to make in my college-age children. I’m not really sure what I was thinking. It was an impulsive decision I made after midnight while registering one of my daughters online. Before I knew it I had pressed send and I was committed. So, I showed up wearing my hot pink “Door Holder” T-shirt ready to work with a host of volunteers I had never met. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I have to admit, volunteering at Passion changed me,
as a parent,
as a leader,
and as a Christian.
After four days of various volunteer activities, I am more convinced than ever that every leader should volunteer on a Passion team. Here are a few of the reasons.
1. It will change the way you see college students.
I have always wondered why some churches will spend so much time and energy creating environments for kids and teenagers, and yet fail to make those who are college-age a similar priority. I volunteered in a Community Group Room of 4,500 students. I watched Brad Jones and a team of volunteers take whatever time was necessary to ensure they organized every student into a family group of 8 to 10. Every morning and evening, groups connected and discussed what God was doing in their lives. Meeting some of these students up-close solidified my belief that this is a critical season of life. For example, I met—
a senior in college who has a desire to work with organizations planting effective churches
a musician who became a Christian a few months ago and can’t wait to use his technical skills to help a church or ministry
an education major who wants to devote her life to working with special needs kids
a Kansas City girl studying cosmetology who wants to leverage her training to help underprivileged families
a UGA student who is searching for an internship with a non-profit organization because he feels called to invest his life in ministry
Thousands of college students showed up with similar stories, ready to redefine the role of church in our culture. They challenged the stereotypes most of us have about this age group. They came hoping someone would hand them the keys so they could do something significant. If you volunteer at Passion, you will be confronted with an entire generation determined to “BE” the church.
2. It will expand your definition of worship.
I have heard Louie Giglio warn numerous times that it’s easy to become infatuated with experiences of worship and never really get to the heart of worship. Worship is more than an emotion, a feeling, or an event. Louie defined it this way, “Worship is . . . me in His hands and my life in His plan.” Although the music at Passion is some of the best in the world, authentic worship happens when people connect their daily lives to the mission.
I was drawn into the worship at Passion, not simply because I was inspired by what I heard, but because I was moved by what I saw. Worship at Passion wasn’t something programmed at the beginning or end of each session. Worship was something that happened continually throughout the day. Passion leaders don’t just try to establish a context where worship can happen, but instead they strive to establish worship as the context for everything that happens.
3. It will renew your passion as a parent.
I was reminded this week that what happens to my children during their twenties is just as important, if not more important, than what happened when they were ten. That’s just another reason I’m personally grateful for the staff at Passion. My four children are between the ages of 20 and 26. As a parent, I still want the same thing now that I wanted for them when they were first born—a personal and authentic passion for God.
While I was at Passion I found myself wondering about the parents of the college students who were there. I tried to imagine how they would feel if they could see their own sons and daughters responding with a willingness to radically sacrifice anything for God’s mission and glory. I’m sure it would have made some parents nervous, but most parents I know would have been overwhelmed with a renewed sense of hope for their kid’s future. If parents volunteer at Passion, it will prompt them to remember what they are leading their kids to become.
4. It will move you to “do something now.”
“Do Something Now” was one of the primary challenges to those who attended Passion. It was more than a slogan. There were numerous practical ways for students to engage in specific opportunities. The stories of real people around the world who are still victims of modern-day slavery were sobering. But it wasn’t just talk. Students were led to become personally involved in a mission to help people groups worldwide experience freedom.
The last night, I watched my 22-year-old daughter disappear into a crowd of 44,000 college students to light a candle and declare war against sex trade and human trafficking. She later explained to me that she wanted to figure out how to be trained so she could counsel girls in crisis situations. I guess that’s when it started becoming personal for me. There seems to be a chain reaction when people are willing to respond to what God is prompting them to do. It will be impossible to measure the ripple effect that will result from this year’s Passion conference.
5. It will affect how you think about serving.
I‘ve spent most of my life trying to convince people that they need to serve, not because God or the church needs them, but because they need God. Okay, I know it’s hard to imagine that God can do something without your help. But the reality is Passion did not need me to volunteer in order for God to show up. There were plenty of people who could do what I did a lot better than I could do it. But I desperately needed to engage in something that God was doing so my faith could be stretched a little further.
I happen to believe that worship, discipleship, and service are intricately linked together. You can’t really separate them. Show me someone who doesn’t serve, and I will show you someone who is stunted in their spiritual growth and who is confused about the meaning of worship. The point is you need to give people opportunities to serve each other because that’s how God tends to shape our faith. That’s why I will always be grateful for a volunteer leader named Chuck who invited me to be on his team of 12, and for the other 2,000+ volunteers who were visible reminders every day that we all desperately need God.
So volunteer for Passion if you ever get the chance. It will change the way you perceive college students, expand your idea of worship, renew your hope as a parent, move you to do something big and give you a new perspective on serving others.