My Atlanta Passion '08 Review: Giglio, Chan, Hall, Tomlin, Crowder, and More

First the facts:
- 12 people in a 15 passenger van driving 5 ½ hours to Atlanta, Ga
- Group: Me, Heidi, Timmy, Daniel, Edward, Matt, Aaron, Sydney, Rosanna, Jessica, Katie, and Samantha.
- 9,500 people at Passion ‘08
- Last stop on the US tour.

Now for the highlights:

Friday
We make pretty good time, which is always a highlight for me since I have a George Costanza complex about making good time. We left the church parking lot at 10:45am and arrived at our hotel in Duluth at 4:15pm. When I originally planned this trip I was “hoping” to get 4 or 5 students to go. So when 12 signed up I was thrilled. The only problem was we were only able get 2 hotel rooms so that meant some tight quarters. Luckily our group was split perfectly 6 guys and 6 girls. After a quick check-in and clean up we headed over to the Gwinnett Arena to get in line. The service started at 7:30pm and doors were supposed to open at 6:30pm. We made our way through the crowd and up as close as we could to the doors. Luckily we had another family from our church meeting us there and they were already in line. As the doors opened, we rushed in like our cloths were on fire to get the best possible seats we could find. Fortunately as everyone else ahead of us made their way to the floor we were able to secure some sweet seats on the side closest to the stage. We were 5 rows up in the first section next to the stage. Prime seating!!

As the lights went out around 7:40pm, we were treated to a full orchestra joining Chris Tomlin on Stage. This was the song list from that night:
- Bitter Sweet Symphony - Opening moment
- Let God arise
- Mighty to save
- Sing sing sing
- Holy is the lord
- Your grace is enough
- Hosanna
- How great is our God

Next Louie Giglio came out and spoke for about an hour about what this weekend means and what it means to make the name of Jesus famous. I’ve seen Louie speak a few times now and it was pretty much the same thing I hear every time. Not that it was bad just the same. After Louie finished he introduced David Crowder who hit us with these songs:
- Here is our king
- There is no one like You
- Forever and ever
- For the glory of it all
- Everything glorious

A few things that stood out to me were the energy and excitement in that place. I’ve been to hundreds of Christian concerts but all pale in comparison to what it was like that night in the building. I really can’t do it justice with words. You just had to have been there. Also, it was cool as always to see Crowder break out his keytar.

Afterward, we sat in the parking lot for what seemed like eternity waiting to get out. I hope there aren’t any parking lots in heaven because if there are then Christians are screwed because we are the worst drivers. Someone in our group (cough – Heidi – couch) thought it would be a good idea to go to Chili’s for dinner. At MIDNIGHT?!? So we did and finally returned to our rooms and were in bed about 2am.

Saturday Morning
We woke up bright and early at 7:30 to grab some hotel continental breakfast before heading out. We got to the arena about 8:30am and waited for the doors to open at 9am. Once the doors opened we were feeling kind of crazy so we made a mad dash for the floor seats. With a little luck and some quick maneuvering we managed to get our entire group on the 6th row! I was most pumped about this session because not only was Charlie Hall (currently one of my favorite artist and the man behind the inspiration for shaving my head) going to be leading the music but also Francis Chan (my current favorite speaker) would be bringing the message. Throw in 6th row seating and this morning would be unbeatable. Charlie came out with the following song set:
- Let my life shine
- On Christ the solid rock I stand (hymn)
- Salvation
- The song of the redeemed
- Chain breaker
- We are yours
Francis then came and gave an amazing message. I had told my group that if they didn’t think Francis was one of there top 3 favorite speakers after hearing him then I would give them their money back. All agreed afterward he was. When Francis finished, Charlie hall came back out and wrapped up with these songs:
- Mystery
- Chain Breaker
- Marvelous light

For lunch we headed for the Olive Garden then back to the arena for the afternoon session. The family from our church once again hooked us up with a sweet place in line when we returned.

Saturday Afternoon
This time we were back in our seats beside the stage, again in the 5th row! David Crowder led the music and Louie spoke again. Both did and excellent job. Crowder’s song set looked like this:
- I saw the light
- Never Ending (guitar hero controller)
- Remedy
- We win
- Rescue is coming
- Never let go
- O Praise him

After the session they gave everyone a boxed lunch that honestly was the only lowlight of the trip. They should have just taken the boxes and distributed them to the homeless. There were a ton of boxes left over and most people I saw just picked at their food.

Aaron, Timmy, and I decided to hang out at the door while the rest of our group went to the van to rest. While sitting at the door I noticed this one Hispanic college kid sitting next to me by himself. Feeling sorry for not including him in our conversations I introduced myself. He said he was from NC and I shared that I was too! He them said he was from Winston-Salem which blew me away Since Winston is less then 10 miles from our church. Just knowing that this random meeting could of happened any other day of the week back home but instead we meet 5 hours and 300 miles away from our home made our hour and a half wait at those doors worth every minute of it. Very cool. The other cool thing was the kid’s name was Jesus.

Saturday Night
When the doors opened for the last session, fun really began. Our plan was for Aaron and Timmy to go to the floor to get seats and I would hold some on the side as a back up. That’s when the whole plan fell apart. I’m not sure what happened to Timmy (well actually I do but I’ll get to that in a minute) but only Aaron and I got to the seats. Aaron was able to “secure” 11 seats on the 7th row and so I held 5 seats on the 2nd. That would cover our 12 and the family of 4. When the rest of our group showed up I gave them the 5 I saved and made my way down to Aaron. By the time I got there a group of girls had broke the unwritten Passion rule and broke our “holding” of the seats. You see Passion was allowing people to save seats for their group for up to 10 min. Aaron was livid. These girls had taken 7 of our 11 seats. After calming him down and getting in touch with the rest of our group, we had to, for the first time, sit separately from each other. Which leads me back to Timmy. I’m still not sure what happened but Timmy ended up in the upper deck with Edward and Matt. Where after the concert he was given a note by a girl using the classic Christian concert pick-up line, “I like the way you worship.” I can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, back to the session. It opened with a series of words running on the screen in complete silence. Then Charlie hall came out and led and acoustic set which featured:
- Mystery
- Marvelous light
- Let my light shine
- Chain Breaker

Next Louie came back out to wrap things up with some more powerful and challenging words. When he was finished Chris Tomlin came back out and led us in worship with the following songs:
- Everlasting God
- Hosana
- Sing sing sing
- God of this City
- Amazing Grace
- Let God arise
- ?? A new song he just wrote last week
- Our God reigns
- Sing sing sing

As we got back to our hotel rooms we decided to have a “debriefing” about what we had experienced that weekend. I asked the group one question, “What did God say to you?”. As we went around the group and shared it was all I could do to hold back the tears as one by one hearts were open and some very deep, honest, and personal thoughts were shared.

The next morning as we gathered around some tables in the hotel dinning area, we noticed several familiar faces. It then became obvious that all the bands were staying at our hotel!! As we sat and hung out watching band members come and go, in walks the man himself, Charlie hall. As Charlie walks by us to get some breakfast our group was abuzz with, “Did you see him? It’s Charlie hall”. Then after getting his food and walking back toward us I knew I had to speak up. I had to tell him tat he was my inspiration for shaving my head. So has he walked by I said, “Hey Charlie, I got a story for ya.” He said, “Lay it on me”. After I finished my story and we shared a good chuckle. He chose to hang out with our group and spend the rest of his breakfast chatting and getting to know our group. It was an awesome way to end our weekend.

By the time we arrived home, my college students had decided to begin a weekly small group, serve at a local mission, and aim for going to Mexico city this fall to help with the Passion world tour stop there.

My Thoughts
I’ve been in full time ministry now for almost 12 years. I’ve done it all: children’s ministry, youth ministry, college ministry, mission trips, church planting, and everything else you can imagine. I’ve been to countless conferences, retreats, concerts, and spiritual renewal weekends. But nothing, I mean nothing, comes close to what I experienced this past weekend. As powerful and moving as the opening night was it only got better. It’s taken me all week to write this review not because of time but because I could not put into words what happened. I still can’t. God is so big and yet He loves us so much!

Charlie Hall sang a new song that will be on his upcoming cd called “Chain Breaker”. For me that was the theme of my weekend. God didn’t just break my chains he shattered them. The chorus of the song goes like this:

Chorus
Chain breaker
Heart Savior
Jesus the great Redeemer
Life changer
Liberator
Jesus the great Redeemer
Bridge:
You are free
You are free
Yea, the Son has set you free
Drop your chains sons and daughters
Come and run in liberty

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