Why I Love Passion City Church

If you follow me on Twitter or have befriended me on Facebook, then you’ve heard me say this often: I love my church! I am a proud Doorholder at Passion City Church right near the heart of the city of Atlanta. Yesterday was a special day for me and my family. A year ago we stepped into the oval at Passion City for the very first time—God went before us and He met us there. A few weeks ago my pastor, Louie Giglio, told the congregation that he fully intended to give a message entitled “Why I Love Passion City Church,” but later felt compelled to give a message called “Why I Love Jesus.” (The talk was absolutely phenomenal. It will make your heart swell for the Son of God!) In lieu of Louie’s message, I decided to compile my own list of reasons why I love my church.

  1. Jesus is Our Cornerstone

From the moment you walk into the doors until the time you exit the building, you are guaranteed to get nothing but Jesus. Believe it or not, it has become normal for many churches in America to hold services in Jesus’ name where Jesus is not welcome. In many ways the Church has been seduced and distracted from the glorious and liberating truth of the gospel, and has embraced her own self-serving, man-made doctrine. We have taken the opinions and convictions of man and elevated them above the Supremacy of God.

“Follow God over loyalty. If you don’t, it may have you in a place where God is not.” — Canton Jones

Jesus is lifted high at Passion City Church. Among a congregation filled with several well-known people, no one steals the spotlight or glory from the One who deserves it all. We exist for the glory and fame of Jesus Christ. We make it our first priority to pay homage to Him by offering our lives in extravagant worship. I’ll never forget the day someone commented that we are always talking about Jesus at Passion City. At first it sounded absurd that anyone would find that to be a problem, but then I could barely contain my excitement. What an awe-inspiring reputation for my church to have: that all we talk about, sing about, shout about, dance for, serve, and worship is none other than Jesus Christ! I am privileged to be in a house where Jesus is central, exalted, celebrated, and adored.

Who can make the blind to see? | Who holds the keys that set us free? | He paid it all to bring us peace | Jesus, only Jesus | Holy, King Almighty Lord | Saints and angels all adore | I join with them and bow before | Jesus, only Jesus — Matt Redman, “Jesus, Only Jesus” from the forthcoming Passion 2013 album: Let the Future Begin

2. It is a Healthy Church

It is no longer good enough for me to merely be a part of a church community out of obligation or because it caters to my preferential style; I need to be in a place where it is safe to freely worship God, and beneficial to my spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness. Some people may be unfamiliar with this term, so I have taken the liberty of highlighting just a few qualities of a healthy church from a great article I found.

  • [Passion City Church] is a place of blessing and freedom. It is a place people want to go.
  • [Passion City Church] is built on loving God, loving people, and reaching out to the community around and ultimately the world.
Passion City's "Motto"

Passion City’s “Motto”

 

  • The Bible is taught in context.
  • Your personal boundaries are important and respected. You are allowed to make your own decisions and you are not looked down on or judged.
  • Love and grace are subjects often taught. You leave the services feeling with a sense of freedom and affirmation.
  • God leads people there.

These are just a few indicators that showcase the health and wellness that emanates from my church. There is such an overwhelming banner of love and freedom that covers our house. Discovering Passion City was like discovering a brook in the middle of a desert. When we need to be refreshed and refilled with strength and hope, Passion City Church is a house where we are confident that the water of the Word is flowing like rushing water.

3. The Leadership

I don’t think words could accurately describe how much I love and respect Louie Giglio. He is a superb example of what I believe a true pastor should look like. He is secure and confident in his role as the leader of our house; therefore he realizes he has been appointed by God for the purpose of guiding His people closer to His bosom. He and God share the same heartbeat for people and the world. Although he is well-known worldwide, he does not seek any glory for himself. He projects every bit of fame to the majesty of Christ every moment he gets.

louie

Louie is humble and genuine. Shortly after we began attending PCC, Louie taught a series called “Believe” in which he was vulnerable enough to share his battles with depression and anxiety. Out of his stories of weakness, so many people were encouraged and hopeful that Jesus is our only source of strength. Most leaders might stay away from exposing personal struggles, but Louie is confident in a Healer who brought him out of a dark place and is capable of bringing more people out. I was in awe of his openness, and many people were set free because Louie was willing to boast on Christ’s healing reputation than care about marring his own.

Louie never belittles or tears down any person in the church or his leadership team. He supports other ministries and their missions to make Christ famous. He isn’t concerned with membership at PCC. Louie once said that it doesn’t matter if people worship at our church as long as they find someplace where Jesus is lifted high above other names. What a pastor! He is the number one cheerleader for every doorholder in our house. In fact, Louie calls himself a doorholder. Being a pastor with influence all over the world isn’t what drives Louie; he is most satisfied with using his life to bring glory to God by being His servant.

Louie & Shelley Giglio, courtesy of Shelley’s Instagram. Follow them: @louiegiglio @shelleygiglio

Courtesy of Shelley's Instagram

Courtesy of Shelley’s Instagram

Louie is crazy about his wife, Shelley. It’s obvious. If you follow either one of them on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see expressions of their love for each other and their church. It’s so encouraging to know that my pastor loves his wife. He honors her often, and even smiles and blushes when he speaks about her during his talks. One Sunday I sat behind the Giglios during the gathering. During worship I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful my pastor and his wife looked together as they both worshiped Jesus unabashedly, arms completely outstretched. They had already heard these songs in the two gatherings before this one, but they both stood together as man and wife, father and mother of our house in total adoration of Jesus. I know they are in love with each other because they are both crazy about Jesus. Jesus oozes from their speech, He emanates from the music Shelley produces, He echoes from the talks Louie gives, He is glorified by the fruit of Passion Conferences and the 268 Generation, and He is exalted in their marriage and ministry. Both Louie and Shelley are amazing leaders, and the same excellence I see in them is also evident in the entire leadership team and their marriages.

The PCC leadership team praying on the Georgia Dome field in preparation for Passion 2013. Courtesy of Instagram.

The PCC leadership team praying on the Georgia Dome field in preparation for Passion 2013. Courtesy of Instagram.

4. The Community

Passion City is a pretty large church, but we would never call it that. Louie says we are a small tribe, a small part of what God is doing in His global Church. God has blessed us and is leading more and more people to our house. PCC has Community Groups throughout the city that meet regularly where people gather around the Word and pray and cultivate community. Those are a great way to connect with this family. However, I have been fortunate enough to meet some beautiful ladies who have become like sisters to me. It is extremely rare to find a group of ladies who love Jesus, love each other, and love the Word with as much intensity as these ladies I’ve found. I love the accountability and support we provide for one another. We aren’t afraid to confront one another’s insecurities or sins together so that all of us will be whole and victorious. Last week in our Bible study, one of the ladies admitted she didn’t prefer to pray aloud and would rather someone else do it. We all encouraged her and confronted that insecurity until she agreed to pray. When she prayed, we were all amazed at the words that came from her spirit. We know the enemy wants to keep us debilitated by our fears, insecurities, or sin, but I am blessed because I am surrounded by women who won’t let me stay the same—women I met at Passion City Church.

5. God is Here

God’s hand literally led my family to Passion City Church. That Wednesday before we came to PCC, God set us on our exodus journey. We had no idea what church we would attend, but we knew God was moving and we had to follow Him. We had heard about Passion City in passing, so we thought it would be a nice place to visit. That Friday night I went to PCC for their college gathering with my sister and ten other friends. I enjoyed it, but I was anxious to get there that Sunday. When we stepped foot inside of the church, I felt like I was home. I remember thinking, “God is here.” That’s all I needed to know. God was there. He led us away from one place, and He went before us and met us at 515 Garson Drive. I have been reintroduced to God at Passion City Church. Where my image of God had been skewed in the past, now I see His character with clarity. I know He is for me; He is crazy about me; He is jealous for me; and He wants to walk with me. I don’t have to perform to seek His approval. I can rest in His grace and trust that He that is within me is greater than the forces in the world. God is not interested in what I can do for Him as much as I should be enthralled by what He’s already done for me. At Passion City Church, I’ve seen people walk into church calloused and cold, and walk out with tears streaming down their faces. I’ve known people who despised organized church and worship, and are now actively serving on teams and cannot sing loud enough or jump high enough. I’ve seen a man who was once ridden to a wheelchair begin to walk again. None of this can be attributed to Passion City Church because this is only possible because God is good. He’s a wonder. He’s everything. He is God of Passion City Church.

Every Christian should be in a church where God is allowed to be God. I am thankful that I’ve found that place for me. I tell my dad often that the greatest decision he has ever made for our family was obeying God’s voice when He told us to prepare for our exodus. There is no perfect church anywhere because we are imperfect people. However, Passion City Church is where I needed to be in order to move forward into my destiny with God. I marvel at His wisdom. Before I was born He knew I would need these people, this word, this leadership, this family to prepare me for what He has for me. So, 515 was etched into the pages of my life’s story. I admit that I’m reading these pages slowly because I want to savor each moment. Between you and me, this story is getting good!

pcc

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Prayer: The Place of Encounter

What if the secret to connecting our humdrum, mundane lives to the supernatural pleasantries of God was as simple as saying a prayer? What if the breath of ZOË life could be summoned by prayer? What if prayer is the avenue through which our earthly lives and God’s heavenly kingdom collide?

Could it be this simple?

Prayer is one of the most essential rites in Christianity. Everyone knows Christians pray, or at least we should. But praying is a struggle for many people because we are disconnected from the God we’re praying to. Samuel Bentley and Micah Wood, co-authors of Simple Devotion, observe, “Everyone assumes that everyone prays, but hardly anyone really does… We talk a lot about prayer, but we do very little actual praying.” My pastor, Louie Giglio, adds, “We’re not praying as much as we should be, and we’re not praying the way we ought to.” We know prayer is vital, yet we shy away from the prayer closet because it feels mundane, boring, and inactive compared to other spiritual activities. How, then, do we begin to enter into an intentional prayer life?

Prayer is more than a religious ritual that we cross off our daily spiritual agendas. Prayer is about connecting with God. Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer, says in his study How to Develop a Strong Prayer Life, “Prayer was never meant to be duty-based or merely results-oriented. Rather, it is the place of encounter with God where our spirit is energized as we grow to love Him more.” Our prayer lives would be so radically altered if we were consciously aware that each time we breathe a word to the Lord we are facilitating an environment for encounter with Holy Spirit. We must remind ourselves that our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears, but be mindful that we are engaging with the Sovereign God of all.

Why should we pray? There are many reasons why we should venture into an intentional prayer relationship with the Lord, but I want to focus on the one I consider most valuable.

“Prayer is not a list, it’s not an activity…it’s connectivity.” – Louie Giglio

Prayer is about connecting with God on a personal level. It is more than speaking words into an empty room. It is more than the designated five minutes at the beginning and end of a church service. It is more than the 30-second recitation before every meal. Prayer is an invitation for God’s spirit to intertwine with our own. Bickle calls prayer a place of encounter. Our prayer closets should be burning with a holy flame as a result of consistent, intentional, focused time on communing with God.

My pastor likened intentional prayer to a romantic relationship. We don’t find it bizarre if our loved one texts or calls us once a day to check on us. Neither do we think it strange if they communicate with us several times a day. How many of us ladies love to receive “Just thinking about you” phone calls? How many guys smile when they receive an “I appreciate you” text message? It makes us feel desired, loved, and treasured. More than that, we communicate with our loved one as a way to stay connected with them. Our intentional communication reminds them, “You still mean everything to me.” Likewise, we should be intentional about cultivating connection between our heart and the Father’s heart.

Frequent, intentional, focused prayer is the breeding ground for intimacy with the Lord. Whisper sweet-nothings to Him. Worship Him with your words of passionate love. Prayer is a conversation; He will respond. Let your prayer closet become a chamber of unabashed, unquenchable, fiery adoration. It will surprise you how soon you’ll become addicted to His presence.

Question: What are other ways you maintain intimacy with God?