Numbers like 16.6 million. And 78%.
We've shared those numbers a lot, and if you've been around the Passion journey you've probably heard me talk about them. We talk about them because the numbers matter. Especially when every number has a beating heart.
In case you didn't know, census results put the number of college and university students in the US near 16.6 million. That includes full-time, part-time, undergrad and graduate students. But the more stunning number comes from the Freshman Norms, the CRIP survey given each year to tens of thousands of incoming freshman at the nation's two and four year schools. Among other things it asks, "Do you consider yourself to be a born again Christian?"
Sure, it's a loaded question, especially in areas removed from the south. But, Jesus did, in fact, use the words Himself in describing what happens when we are reconnected to God. Staggeringly, every year close to 78% say "No."
Each year 8 of every 10 students in the US say, "NO, I am NOT a born again Christian!"
Of course that number is balanced by the Universitys of Georgia out there that have an abundance of people saying "Yes." (Which is great!) Balanced by the the ocean of campuses where those actively following Jesus is maybe 1-2% of the entire student body.
The first year I saw the results of the CIRP Survey (1985) I was stunned. Working and living on a campus of 11,000. I was suddenly floored with an overwhelming reality that was too big to instantly get my head around. If you do the math and take 78% of 16.6 million your heart will sink like mine did that day. And sadly, as recently as last year the numbers aren't significantly different.
That means tonight millions of students will close their eyes again, not knowing (and possibly never hearing) that they are objects of Divine affection...and that as mysterious as it sounds, the Son of God actually put Himself in harms way so that their messed up lives could be mended and restored in the grace of God.
If you've ever wondered, that's what's driving Passion. Yes, we are moved by the glory of God, and the desire to see His fame come to the campuses of the nation. But there is a direct correlation between these millions of hearts awakening and His name echoing through the courtyards.
We are not pouring our energies into Passion07 just so we can have another fantastic event for believers. Rather so that every student might have a chance to breathe mercy and be embraced by hope. We know another Passion gathering is not the solution. That lies in the kindness of God and the willingness of those who do know Him to live out vibrant faith in open spaces so that one by one the numbers can shift and the anthem can grow louder for His renown.
So we are inviting belivers to come from north, south, east and west. Come representing your campus and city. Come and listen to what He has done. And come believing that you can make a difference... and we can see the tide turn for the sake of millions more.
The City Of Brotherly Love
Yep, it's Philly. We had a great visit to the home of the Liberty Bell and an up close look at some of what's happening on the campuses there. The city is beautiful and diverse, steeped in history and overflowing with colleges and universities. We didn't see them all, but we saw a bunch... you can't go anywhere in Philly without passing at least a dozen schools. We did get to walk on five campuses and would love for you to pray with us for the campuses, ministries and churches in the greater Philadelphia area.
The Owls. Temple has an urban vibe and is one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation.
The Dragons. Cool mascot for Drexel University, a sprawling urban campus with tons of commuters.
The Quakers of Penn...as in The University of Pennsylvania. This Ivy League stalwart was founded by Ben Franklin and is the oldest secular institution of higher learning in North America.
The Hawks and Cats. Villanova and St. Joseph's are small-medium sized Catholic universities with rich traditions.
As we talked with believers in Philly we were encouraged by the emerging church throughout the city and the active presence of His people on many campuses. But we were also faced with the reality that in most cases followers of Christ number less than 5% of the student body, meaning 95% of Philly students could potentially sleep again tonight without a taste of the mercy and rescue of their Creator.
May liberty reach the hearts of all Philly's students. And may His renown echo again in the city of love.
PS-In the spirit of fairness, we've also had folks from our team at UNLV and OSU this fall as we seek to learn more about what's happening across the nation. Go Rebs and Buckeyes!
Where Are We?
Just a quick thanks to you guys who sent videos our way for Passion 07. The time and energy you invested was amazing, and though we haven't had a clear winner, the top three are up for your viewing pleasure on the 268 page. Visit 268geration.com and click View Your Passion Videos under Latest.
Passion 07 Capacity Update!
Well, the phone's been ringing at the Passion House and lots of the questions have been about seating for Passion 07. Rumors are flying around about the dual venue setup and some are saying Passion 07 is already full. The real story is that we are NOT full and that we have room for you and your group. As well, the dual venue system is NOT normal overflow...not even close.
Info will be landing on the Passion site today, but for you Blog readers, here's the scoop. Please help us spread this info! Muchas gracias.
New Updates On Passion 07 Capacity, Seating
As we head toward Passion07 our projected attendance continues to outpace what we have seen the past few years. Because of this growth, we knew early on we could outgrow Philips Arena and began to look for options that would allow us to make space for as many people as possible. As a result, we are excited to be adding a second main session venue directly across from Philips Arena in the Georgia World Congress Center. While it's still possible that we will sell out, the additional venue will allow significant growth in Atlanta.
Here's how the dual venues are going to work:
First, it's important to note the additional venue is not overflow, rather a "live" venue with full production filled with thousands of people. Both venues will have live worship and other live elements. While the main messages will originate in Philips, both arenas will be linked together, making it possible for those leading in each location to communicate with the other. The additional venue will not simply be people sitting in a room watching the whole session on a big screen.
Everyone at Passion will rotate between the two venues. In other words, where you attend main sessions does not depend on when you register. The dual venue approach is something we will all participate in, giving everyone an equal experience in both settings. A wristband will be assigned at registration that designates who rotates when. An effort will be made to keep groups together, but we cannot guarantee everyone will be together for every single session. Yet, at most people will only be in the additional venue for two of the seven main sessions. The bigger picture is this: the additional venue may be the very thing that allows some of your friends to make it to Passion07, so we are asking people to embrace the idea in that spirit, knowing it will be a huge success if we all have the desire to include as many as possible.
What's most important is that we have plenty of room for you. While registration is trending higher than ever before, we have increased our capacity and have lots of space available with three months to go. Beginning in November we will post a weekly update of where we are capacity-wise, and update it even more frequently as we get closer to Passion07. You aren't going to want to miss it!
Following in the spirit of my comments in the last Blog remarks, we are celebrating the release of See The Morning one week after it's debut last Tuesday. It was pretty amazing today as the charts from week one were released. STM landed at the top of the Christian charts AND at #15 on the Billboard Top 200. That's #15 out of every CD out there last week, a bold statement and a lot of songs of hope and light floating around the nation. We're humbled and excited... and we know this is only the beginning.
Thanks for your prayers and support!