The Table Podcast

Ministering to Millennials

In this episode, Dr. Darrell L. Bock and Louie Giglio discuss ministering to the millennial generation.

Timecodes
00:15
Giglio’s calling to reach young people
07:45
What makes your ministry attractive to millennials?
18:30
Engaging the “messy spaces” of life
23:30
Ministering to a younger generation
26:30
Importance of the creative arts
38:25
How Millennials tend to process information
42:35
Importance of telling stories
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary, and my guest today is Louie Giglio. Welcome, Louie, to The Table.
Louie Giglio
Thank you so much. Privilege to be here.
Darrell Bock
Louie is pastor at Passion Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and childhood friend for Andy Stanley. We’re gonna put all the credentials that matter, right?
Louie Giglio
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
And your life has been given to ministry particularly to young people, and so that’s what our topic is today is to discuss young people, and the first question I always ask someone when we have a topic is so what pulled you into this gig? How did you get started?
Louie Giglio
[Laughs] Yeah, I think like everybody else I had no clue really what the plan was. So I graduated from seminary and I wasn’t really sure what the plan was still.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
That was another generation ago when your options were senior pastor, minister of education, youth pastor, missionary, church administrator, evangelist.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
So pick a box and get in it, and I didn’t –
Darrell Bock
Hopefully that wasn’t in the order you think about them in, but anyway. [Laughter]
Louie Giglio
I didn’t really see which one of those boxes I went in. So I went to grad school following seminary, pursued another degree, and in the meantime while that happened – I went to Baylor University for grad school after seminary, and during that time, God opened a series of doors that plopped me right in the middle of college ministry, which was not one of the boxes that I had been staring out for the last five years of life, thinking if you’re in ministry, it has to be one of those things, and that turned into ten years at Baylor University of walking with college students every day and trying to spur them on in a relationship with Jesus, which ended up, through some transition in my family, leading us to Atlanta, leading us to Passion, and 21 years later, Passion Conferences. So I have no idea, to answer your question, how I got into that gig other than I sat across a table at a summer college retreat for a church in Houston a few days before I went to grad school at Baylor, and a girl was sitting across the table – it wasn’t my wife, although my wife and her were very close friends. She was a sophomore at Baylor, and she’d been a part of our summer ministry in Houston, and she just said very clearly to me – Darrell, she said to me “God’s bringing you to Baylor for a reason.”
Darrell Bock
Hmm.
Louie Giglio
That was it, and as soon as she said it, instantaneously I had clarity on – I thought “I’m gonna go to grad school ’cause Shelley’s got one more year at Baylor. I love church state studies. It’ll be a great degree to pursue” and then it just clarified “Oh, God has put me here for a purpose, and I know what it is right now.” And so I just would say to anybody watching us today that, you know, watch for those clues and maybe don’t spend so much time trying to write out the 15, 20, 25 year plan.
Darrell Bock
[Laughter] Okay, all right. So ditch the yellow pad and just see what God’s doing, huh? Was your time at Baylor connected to the university or was it connected to a church?
Louie Giglio
Neither.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Louie Giglio
So I went there as a grad student, and I already had three summers under my belt doing summer ministry with Baylor students in Houston. It’s how I met my wife, and I dated her for two years while I was finishing seminary in Fort Worth, so I spent every weekend that I was free at Baylor sleeping on some guys’ couch or some guys’ floor –
Darrell Bock
I’ve done that gig. Okay.
Louie Giglio
– of an apartment of a dorm somewhere. So we’d go to football games, we’d go out to dinner with Baylor kids, we went to church on Sunday morning. I knew Baylor like I was a Baylor student, and so by the time I went to grad school there, I understood the school, and I think it’s fair to say I love Baylor. My wife’s a regent at Baylor. I have tremendous respect for the school, but spiritually I think it’s fair to say at that time it was a school that was more about religion and less about a relationship with Jesus.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And that’s where I had seen the awakening come in this summer college ministry I was doing. Kids were coming alive to a relationship with Christ, and I knew that maybe we could see that happen on a macro. So about six of us prayed, started a bible study in the Arbor’s apartment clubhouse on a Monday night. About 40 students showed up, and within two or three years, 1400 students were showing up on Monday night, and we were just an independent student-led movement.
Darrell Bock
So you were a ministry plant that became a church basically? [Laughter]
Louie Giglio
We were a group of friends who started a bible study, and that bible study ultimately died away about five years after we moved. I was there ten years. My father was disabled in Atlanta. My mom was the primary caregiver for him for seven years of disability, and I was seeking to get back to Atlanta to help my mom all those seven years. Seven of the ten years we were at Baylor doing Choice Bible Study my dad was instantly disabled with a brain virus, and so God finally released us 1995 to go to Atlanta to help my mom. My dad died of a heart attack right when we got to Atlanta.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow.
Louie Giglio
And we had just left ten years of ministry behind. The seed was planted in that time, as God sometimes does, for Passion, and then Passion existed for 13 or 14 years before Passion City Church was born. So it was Choice Bible Study first, more of a global campus ministry organization movement second, local church third. So we kinda did everything backwards.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow. Okay.
Louie Giglio
Normally people plan a church, out of the church grows ministry, and from the ministry grows a movement. We had a ministry that turned into a movement that we asked the Lord to help us shrink down into a local expression of faith in Atlanta, Georgia, and we’re nine years into that now. So we sorta navigated that transition.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s fascinating, of course. College campuses have a way of morphing stuff. [Laughter]
Louie Giglio
Well you know, Facebook is phenomenal to me; one of the greatest companies in the world, or at least the most influential companies in the world. Two billion people I think maybe have access to Facebook and growing, and it all started with some college kids, and overnight, boom.
Darrell Bock
They started talking to each other and said “Come here” basically?
Louie Giglio
Well, overnight they started rating the looks of other students on their campus, so that’s how Facebook got started.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Louie Giglio
Some version of that, but eventually they had an internet work of communication. It spread to another campus and another campus and another campus, and you know, Zuckerberg was right there at the heart of it all.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, you’re talking about Facebook. I’m actually talking about how your church grew on campus. Was it through Facebook primarily and communication like that?
Louie Giglio
Well, when we started – oh man, when we started our ministry at Baylor, there were no personal computers, so –
Darrell Bock
Oh, okay.
Louie Giglio
[Laughs] It was a different era.
Darrell Bock
All right. Okay.
Louie Giglio
I do remember the first Apple computer we got in our ministry office, and I thought the world – you know, that _____ _____ in.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I’m thinking don’t go there. [Laughs] It’s a long time ago.
Louie Giglio
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Okay, so you’ve launched Passion – okay, I know one answer to this question, and I’m gonna rule it out before we start, and that is it’s a God thing, which I get. But how do you see what you did and how you go about it that has proved to be attractive to college kids? What is it about the way you approach ministry that makes ministry effective to college kids?
Louie Giglio
Yeah, man, you know, I honestly – I know you already did the disclaimer thing. It was the Lord. I couldn’t write that book.
Darrell Bock
Huh, interesting.
Louie Giglio
I’m actually pretty happy about that. I grew up under Charles Stanley. When Charles Stanley came to be the associate pastor of the church I grew up in, the church had about 3,000 people on a Sunday.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
The Sunday he became the pastor of the church through great travail – I’m talking literal fisticuffs, there were –
Darrell Bock
We are in the Deep South.
Louie Giglio
There were 300 people there. The church went from 3,000 to 300.
Darrell Bock
Uh-huh.
Louie Giglio
I was a seventh grader.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow.
Louie Giglio
So my middle school, high school years I sat on the front row literally and watched God turn 300 people into what is now In Touch Ministries and the influence of Charles Stanley around the world.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Louie Giglio
The church that had 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 people coming on a Sunday. Bought all the property in downtown Atlanta, spawned an international ministry, and I watched that happen. That was my first seminary education.
Darrell Bock
Mm-kay.
Louie Giglio
And what I learned from it was that people are moved and attracted by the preaching of the word of God. The “Here it comes”, no dodging any bullets, but it’s preach with passion, and it’s connected to real life, but it’s not sugar coated in any way.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And I saw the power of the preaching of the Word, and I saw the power of a life of passion. And so the two things that I think are similar in everything I’ve ever been a part of, whether it was Choice Bible Study on the first night at Baylor, or Passion Conference a few weeks ago in Atlanta and D.C., is put the Word front and center, make it about Jesus because the Holy Spirit loves magnifying Jesus, and he leverages His role in the trinity to amplify the story of Jesus. And so if that’s your goal is to amplify Jesus, then you’ve got a lot of wind, no pun intended, in your sail.
Darrell Bock
Yes. Absolutely.
Louie Giglio
And I think secondly to try to create an environment where people can interact with God, not on an emotional level, but on an all human level; intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, and that’s worship. It’s corporate worship. It’s informed by truth. It’s anchored in the Word, but it touches the heart and it releases the tongue.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. So it makes the person whole.
Louie Giglio
Make a person whole, it honors God, it creates an atmosphere of powerful, miraculous, supernatural kingdom, and when you couple the preaching of the word with a free expression of worship, and then you give people a purpose that’s greater than themselves, somehow that concoction, if you will, has worked, and there haven’t been any frills or gimmicks along the way. We did ten years of ministry at Baylor. We never served free food. We didn’t do a skit or a drama. We didn’t have a game or an activity in ten years.
Darrell Bock
Uh-huh. Oh man, now, I’m a Young Life person, so you’re stepping all over me. [Laughs]
Louie Giglio
Well, I’m just saying on any given Monday night, I would look up at 1,200, 1,500 college students just sitting there, Bibles open, and I went “They want the truth.”
Darrell Bock
Yeah, they wanted to be fed, and you were feeding them. Yeah. That’s great. That’s a great lesson. I think it’s important. I do sense just in the conversation and hearing you speak that there is a – I’m gonna struggle for the right word. There’s an empathy and a sensitivity to where people are coming from that also seems to be a part of what you’re about. In other words, if I can say it this way, it’s not slamming the truth in someone’s face. It’s actually presenting the truth with an awareness of where the hurts and the needs and, in some cases, the blind spots of people are, if I can say it that way. Is that dimension of ministry an important part of –
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
I’m fishing. [Laughs]
Louie Giglio
Well, I think everyone’s great advantage as a pastor/minister is to be human.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And I certainly qualify for that on – I check all the boxes. I have some strengths. I have a lot of weaknesses. I’ve had some wins and I’ve had a lot of losses.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
I’ve been up to the mountaintop and I’ve been way, way, way down in the dark valley.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
I’ve lost people I love. My family’s walked through some very difficult times and seasons. I’ve experienced what I think A. W. Tozer says; “God can’t use a man greatly unless He wounds him greatly” or “Can’t use him mightily unless he wounds him greatly.” A lot of that doesn’t fit in a lot of people’s theology, but it certainly happened to Jesus that way.
Darrell Bock
It was in the second half –
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
It was the entire second half of the discipleship program Jesus taught the disciples. “You join me, you will get pushed back in pain.”
Louie Giglio
So I think that our best advantage in ministry it to stay very much in touch with our own humanity.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And so it keeps us from being arrogant and proud and coming off like we have got a message for the people, and boy, I’m gonna tell all ya’ll something. It diffuses all that when you walk in going “I don’t even belong up here today.”
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
_____ the grace of God that I’m communicating anything, that I’m alive, that I’m saved. I think that is the framework, but I also think getting out and just observing life. I remember at Baylor I did a series of messages on drinking. Now, I don’t have a big platform to stand on about whether you can or can’t have a glass of wine or it’s terrible to have a beer with the guys. Obviously alcoholism and being drunk are sins, and so that’s clear.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
You have to fine tune down to sorta the “Can I have a beer with the guys?” message. But it was a pretty big epidemic on our campus. Baptist University – I lived on campus, so I spent about eight weekends picking up all the beer cans and bottles out of my own apartment parking lot, putting them in these big, black Hefty trash bags and stashing them in this storage closet. So when I gave the message, I had about eight bags out on the front of the stage at this church we were meeting in, and I said “I know this isn’t a big issue at Baylor” and then I just went to the first bag and shook it and just – pssshhh, all down the stairs went the cans and battles. After eight bags of that, it was an unbelievable sight at the front of this church, and I said “So I know this isn’t a real super relevant issue for those of us here today, but just for the few people that might relate to, let’s talk about it for a little bit together.” Well obviously it was a pretty big amount of gravity in the room at that moment, and I think some of that’s just observing life and being human, and then speaking out of that or speaking the truth into that.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, which raises another issue that I think’s important about ministry particularly to this age group, and that is –
Louie Giglio
I think we might have just shocked a few people by the way. Baylor kids drink. I’m sorry I had to be the one to say that. [Laughs]
Darrell Bock
Yeah, well I’ll let you get the mail, okay? [Laughter] I think what’s underneath this is another thing the kids are wrestling – ’cause they’re wrestling with life – if they want the church to tackle the difficult spaces that kids are negotiating as they move through, and in many cases, many of these kids are negotiating these spaces on their own for the first time. If they’ve come out of some Christian homes that you and I are probably very aware of where patients have tried to be parents but have been perhaps extremely attentive, if I can say it that way. All of a sudden they find themselves having to make decisions they’ve never had to make for themselves before, and they’re wrestling with that, and who they are in the midst of that, and what that means about who they are, and what they’ve been told about what they should and shouldn’t do, and the potential freedoms that they have in being there, et cetera. It seems all that makes for a college ministry that if it doesn’t engage in the challenges of being in that particular situation at that particular age – there’s a disconnect between “Is God engaged with all my life?”
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm. Well, I think that that’s where you default back to what we talked about a moment ago. You just teach the word, and as you do that, if you’re not anchored in your four key favorite passages, that you’re trying to really open the Word up to people, what you find is the miracle of the Word. It speaks to all the different facets of our lives.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
It transcends centuries and millennia and just rolls right up into the present tense dilemma of what it is to be alive in our day.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And it speaks across all the issues that people are wrestling with, struggling with, then it shines light into our world, and I think that’s a key component for people who don’t want just some top level theological subjects, but they wanna know “How can I navigate life?”
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I sometimes talk about this in relationship to our work at the center, that what seminaries have tended to do is to do a good job of going from the Bible to life. You know, “Here’s this passage and here’s how it connects to your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not how most people interact with their Bibles. Most people who interact with their Bibles take their life situations and go to the Bible and say “Help me.”
Louie Giglio
Right.
Darrell Bock
That move is not the same kind of move, and it’s not the same kind of reading, and I like to challenge the people that I interact with and particularly the people who are teaching people how to be teachers, we gotta teach our people how to switch hit and be able to go both ways.
Louie Giglio
That’s it.
Darrell Bock
To take this situation, which because its life in a fallen world is messy, and the mess is in front of you. You can talk about what the ideal should look like, and that’s not the space that’s being occupied. Now, how do I live out of that messy place, and, one, first make sense of it, two, figure out how to go about trying to fix it as much as I can, three, deal with the consequences of the choices already made, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and it seems to me real pastoral ministry meets that challenge in a really significant way.
Louie Giglio
Yeah, I think what you’re saying is important though. I think it’s a philosophical shift, and it’s not just about how we approach the Word. It’s about how we approach everything with God.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
I have a life and a set of variables, and when I need input from God, I will find that. I will either go to church, show up, open my Bible, look for a text, enter into a dialogue with a pastor because I need input at this point versus that mentality that says that the Bible doesn’t exist necessarily as a solution to my problems.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
But I try to help this generation understand, and remind myself, church isn’t for me. Church is for good. The great assembly isn’t so that I can get four points that are practical for me this week.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I’m not a consumer coming to a product.
Louie Giglio
Exactly. The great assembly is redeemed voices amplifying a redeemer.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
It’s a recalibration of life, and everything in life, where God again is seen as all sufficient and all worthy and glorious, and the Bible is about God. It’s not about me.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
Heaven exists for the glory of God, not for me. The cross wasn’t all about me. The cross Jesus said when he said in John, “So what should I say? Save me from this hour. No, it was for this hour that I came. Father, glorify your name.”
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Louie Giglio
So we know the cross is about God’s glory. The Word is about God. Church is for God. All of this exists for God, and I think when we have inverted that then of course we’re gonna miss everything in the equation.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm, yeah. The way I like to describe it is that oftentimes when we process what goes on around us in life, the arrow is pointed towards us, and we see everything in terms of how I’m impacted about what’s going on around me. The Bible likes to take that arrow, which is instinctively there, and just shove it in a different direction, and that direction is actually two-fold.
Louie Giglio
[Laughs] Yeah.
Darrell Bock
One is up and the other is out.
Louie Giglio
Yep.
Darrell Bock
So I’m looking to Him, and if I look to Him, and am connected to Him, and I have a solid identity in Him so that I don’t need to be afraid of what’s going on around me – because I think a lot of people react out of fear and a lack of self-acceptance. I’m in a better position to become vulnerable, not just in open before God, but also vulnerable in a way that serves other people, and I become less concerned about how I’m viewed and what I’m doing, ’cause I understand what I’m supposed to be about.
Louie Giglio
Absolutely. You know, my dad designed the Chick-fil-A logo in 1964. My dad was a graphic designer. Fast forward to my dad became disabled, did not design, or go to work, or play golf, or drive a car, or dress himself again for the last seven years of his life. Went from being this genius to this disabled, mentally and physically handicapped person, died in 1995 of a heart attack, crashed into my whole move to Atlanta, left me in the dark and in the clouds and in a fog basically. Like we just left all of that to come for this, and now he’s gone, and fast forward up to Passion 2013. Biggest event Passion’s ever done, in a football stadium, 60,000 college students, stage in the center of the field, four days, I’m leading it, underneath the teraplast on top of the field is my dad’s logo from the Chick-fil-A bowl the night before we started.
Darrell Bock
Oh, man.
Louie Giglio
And so when we take the focus off of us, it doesn’t answer all the questions, but it just helps us trust again that God’s in the equation. He’s working a plan.
Darrell Bock
And so I’ve got a real simple question. So you don’t use skits, okay, you don’t use drama, et cetera, et cetera, so you present the Word. The question is so how do you engage? How is it that you go about actually engaging the student and drawing them into the Word?
Louie Giglio
Well, we’re talking across a gamut of life, you know? The question sorta rooted back in 1985, Arbor’s Apartment’s clubhouse, first time we ever gather, all the way up to Passion City Church today; two or three different epochs of time happened in between there. But I think it’s staying alive and having a fire and a passion for Jesus is the way you engage any generation. I think it’s opening your mouth and engaging people, and they have a instantaneous assessment process, especially this younger generation. Very skeptical generation. Not that all of us who are older aren’t, but they have that sixth sense for authentic, for trustworthiness, for the ethos and pathos layer. I think it’s coming across as someone who truly love God, believes in the story of the gospel, not just is telling the story of the gospel, is moved by the power of the cross, and is alive in the spirit to do the things that God has put before us to do, to join in the greater mission of God, to touch and change the world.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
Starting with where we are, our Jerusalem, and then moving out into the corners of society, culture, and earth. And so I don’t know how to answer the question “How do we engage college students?” other than to say we have a reputation. They know that they’re gonna be challenged, moved, encouraged, fed if they come to Passion.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And so they come with that expectation. “I’m gonna be challenged there. I know that. I’m gonna be moved. I’m gonna be encouraged there. I’m gonna be fed there, and I’m gonna look around and realize I’m a part of a greater story” and this is one of the gifts of Passion. It’s not everybody’s calling to gather 30,000, 40,000 people in events and stadiums and arenas. But for whatever reason, it’s part of our calling, and part of our stewardship, and part of our anointing actually to do that.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And so one of the gifts we offer to students is you can walk into this arena from the University of Idaho or Boise State or South Dakota State University or – you name a school that’s not Texas ANM or Auburn or the University of Georgia or Clemson where there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of believers floating around. But you can walk into this arena, you can look around, and say “I’m here representing the Blue Hens of Delaware, and I am not alone. I love this Jesus. I believe in this kingdom, and I felt for the last semester at school, like I must be the only living college student who believes all of this, but I’m not alone” and there’s a power in that.
Darrell Bock
Interesting. Now, how important is music and worship to what you do? You know, I’m actually in the midst of writing a commentary on Ephesians right now. Today my passage was psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” I got filled with the Spirit yesterday, and today I’m singing. And what strikes me in studying that passage is however you talk grammatically about how the two parts are related, which is an interesting discussion that New Testament people have. What’s clear is there’s an environment that surrounds and that catalyzes your ability to be open to the Spirit of God.
Louie Giglio
Well, I would say it this way, and I would guess that our audience by and large would be people on the pastoral side, the preaching, leadership side of the equation. I think this is the most important conversation that we could have because this false dichotomy between preaching and worship, between pastoral leadership and the creative arts in the church; it’s not biblical, nor is it Gospel driven.
Darrell Bock
Yep.
Louie Giglio
Psalm 40 says “I cried out to the Lord. He heard my cry. He lifted me up out of this mire pit” and then what did He do? He did two things. “He set my feet on a rock, and He put a new song in my mouth.”
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
This is the result of salvation. We get a foundation and we get an anthem.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And everyone has an anthem. Everyone on planet Earth has an anthem. Worship and music are not an offshoot for the church. It’s the expression of the entire world.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
It’s just we have a redeemed song, and a song of hope, and a great foundation. So I didn’t say it in chapel today here, but it’s good to say it here. The senior pastor is the worship leader of every church.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
There may be a guy with a guitar that has that title, but the senior pastor is the lead worshipper of the church, and so heaven is about worship. This is clear from the revelation of John. All through the Epistles we see woven through the story. When we take one step back and look at what we’re reading, we see the songs of praise of the church, and so this is the way it works in life, and so at Passion, I would say, to answer your question, worship is integral in everything that we do because there is no way to separate the gospel from worship.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I think that that’s the thing that strikes me in having done this work and this passage very, very recently is is the recognition of the relationship between what it means to be filled with the Spirit in the environment that is associated with it, which is this – you talked earlier about the spotlight, in effect, being on God. Well, good worship is the spotlight being on God, and expressing that from the heart, reaffirming and reestablishing that connection that drives us spiritually, et cetera, and I guess I’ve been in churches where I’ve seen the worship almost disconnected from the message of the Word or almost treated as either a prelude – oftentimes as a prelude to the Word, but not valued as important in and of itself, or even seen to connect to what comes later, and I go “There’s a loss of something here when that’s the approach as opposed to really wrestling with –” in fact, when I preach, if I get the opportunity, I really like to be asked “What music should go with what you’re doing?” because to me, the music is, in one sense, a part of the sermon.
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm.
Darrell Bock
It’s introducing the theme, and what you want people thinking about as they come into what you’re talking about, and if you integrate those, it just seems to me to make more sense.
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm. If I wasn’t sitting here with you right now, literally I would be sitting at another table with our worship pastors, our creatives, our production people, talking about our gatherings coming up on Sunday at Passion City. I think it’s just helpful for the pastor to overcome – if he has any shortcomings or insecurities about music or the arts – to try to climb over that wall and to just go sit down at the table with these young artisans, these creatives, and forge a relationship and a friendship, help them (a) bolster their theological perspective on what they’re doing, and then for him to feel more connected to the flow of what God’s Spirit is doing in and through the church. The songs travel further than the messages.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
We sang a song in chapel this morning that just won a Grammy Sunday night that was written a year ago an another continent that has been sung now in every church in the world in one year’s time.
Darrell Bock
Yep.
Louie Giglio
“What A Beautiful Name”
Darrell Bock
Yep.
Louie Giglio
A great anthem ad theologically very strong.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
So it’s a win-win. It’s a heartfelt, you wanna pump your first in the air, you wanna shout, you feel God’s moving in the assembly, and a confession of this kind of – a declaration of the victory of God. So there’s every layer being tapped into there, and if the pastor is looking over his notes for the seventh time, or scanning the crowd for who’s here today, it’s telegraphing to the church “This isn’t important to me.”
Darrell Bock
Right. Right.
Louie Giglio
“What’s important to me is that they’ll finish this, and then I can do the thing that’s the most important thing, which is preach my message.”
Darrell Bock
Right.
Louie Giglio
And as a preacher, I would just say it simply this way. Your message isn’t the most important thing. The Word of God is the central thing. Jesus is the central thing. But your sermon may or may not be the central thing, and I tell you, people get healed in our church during the worship. When I say the worship, I mean the music, because I hope my sermon is worship. They get encouraged. They get convicted. People get saved during the music.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
People’s testimony is “I came to church, and during the singing, something happened to me.” Isn’t that powerful?
Darrell Bock
That is powerful, and you know, I think about it – I’m someone who’s not musically trained. I mean, my mom wanted me to play piano. I hated it. Mm-kay? I did one recital in my life, “Peter and the Wolf.” Okay?
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
So I’m not musically inclined at all. You know, I can’t play the guitar or anything else. I might be able to beat on drums, but I’ve never tried it. So I’m as musically handicapped as anyone in the room, but what I am and what everybody – everyone sings. Everyone can sing. Everyone can be drawn into music whether they can play it or not.
Louie Giglio
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
So my thinking as someone who speaks in relationship to the music is wrestling with this coherence of what’s happening in the worship hour for people, and frankly with as digital, visual, and visceral as this generation is, that’s important in touching the whole person.
Louie Giglio
Absolutely, and I think that we miss the mark when we get stuck down in our outlines.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And people aren’t coming in to church – I mean, it’s hard for me to really swallow, but we know that people forget 90 percent of what they hear within 24 hours. I mean, the best lesson for anyone like me in my line of work is to go to my own team – not Joe working at the bank.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah.
Louie Giglio
Not Sally who’s running the IT company. When I go around to my own team on a Thursday and say “Can you give me the key text from last Sunday? Can you give me one point? I had four. Can you just give me one? Do you remember the main axiom of the message?” you get a lot of blank stares back. And so what we have to realize is this is an inch by inch progression. It’s a slow growth process, and everything sensory helps the process.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And it doesn’t dilute the Word, obviously. We’re not trying to turn this thing into a multimedia presentation, but if there is some multimedia that helps you make your point, why not?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And so I think that for me, I preach differently than a lot of my friends who are very outline driven, and some even manuscript driven. I try to paint a picture for people that they can remember. Like I remember going to the church, and I don’t remember all the words, but I remember the painting that got painted, and if we can do that consistently over time and then get people tethered into the Word in more of a small group setting or a daily journey setting, I think we’re gonna win, but it just helps when the pastor is leading the charge in that, and he hasn’t divested to a couple worship guys, or worship girls, worship team down here and said “I’ll just go and do the message, and ya’ll do whatever” because (a) there’s a worship diet that’s important. So we can’t sing all the same kinda songs with the same message. We gotta serve a meat and a vegetable and a dessert’s nice sometimes and maybe even something green on the plate.
Darrell Bock
And it isn’t like people don’t have different tastes out there in terms of music. [Laughs] Yeah.
Louie Giglio
You know, so it’s that – what are we – are all these songs about “I feel good ’cause God loves me?” Is that the whole day? Or do we get any ballast in the boat today about something true about the character of God? So the diet is important, the theme is important, the continuity’s important, the continuity of the whole gathering is important. We’re trying to do the same thing here today. We’re trying to say one thing today, and if we get on the same page to do that, I think we serve the people.
Darrell Bock
You know, another thing that strikes me in digging through your example about the content of the sermon is I do think that one thing that people do catch even if they can’t regurgitate the specific content of the sermon is they get the pastors’ heart.
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm.
Darrell Bock
They get who the pastor is as a person. So if you’ve got a Paul driving preacher, if you can get it that way, just, you know –
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
That’s one thing, and if you get a person – they get that because that is almost unconsciously processed, if I can say it that way. And so they can tell the person who’s scripted from the pulpit versus the person who – “That person is talking to us from their heart.”
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm.
Darrell Bock
And again, although I think there might be some differences across generations, I think that’s a characteristic the younger generation is a little more sensitive to because they have been, again, so visual and so digital, and they process so much of their life thought what they have seen and through what they have heard versus what they have read, and I like to tell people the difference between my generation and the generation that follow me is I grew up processing information thinking through outlines and structure. A younger person grew up processing information on a webpage.
Louie Giglio
Mm-hmm, a story.
Darrell Bock
A story, a picture, okay? Which means that you don’t go to a webpage – “Okay, that’s the first thing I can click. That’s the second thing I can click. That’s the third thing I can click. That’s the fourth thing I can click.”
Louie Giglio
[Laughs] And therefore, if you click all four of those things, your summary is this that and the other.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah, exactly. No, you have a myriad of choices, and you can go in any direction you want. And I’ve tried to say our teaching needs to wrestle with the fact that information has been processed in a completely different way. I’m not saying right or wrong. I’m not putting right or wrong over that at all; different. And in the midst of that difference is another way of communicating, and sometimes that way of communicating gets it spaces and places that the outline does not touch.
Louie Giglio
Wow. That’s brilliant. Yeah, that’s great.
Darrell Bock
And so I think that sometimes we forget that, and so when I find myself defending the younger generation – which I do a lot. I travel a lot and the standard question I get – when I’m in an audience over 45 and I open it up, I know that one question I will get during the time is “What’s wrong with the younger generation?”
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
Okay? All right? So I pull out my hair and I get more and more of my hairline.
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
‘Cause what I wanna do is I wanna – you know, I teach this age group, and I go “I’m not sensing the problems that you’re sensing. I may have some concerns, but the heart is in the right place, and the desires’ in the right place, and they just wanna leaner, but they learn differently than what we’re used to.”
Louie Giglio
I couldn’t agree more. I grew up in a very outline driven world, and I have a logically processing mind anyway. So it was the perfect storm for me listening to Charles Stanley give an expository message three times a week for over a decade of my life. Incredible.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
But when I look at the difference between our 9:30 gathering at Passion City, which is a lot of people who are in our age zone, people with a lot of experience in church, and then I look at the 5:00PM gathering which is heavily hundreds and hundreds of 18 to 25 year olds in all the rows I see right in front of me. They’re not looking for the outline in their journal. If you look at their journals on Instagram and see what they wrote at the end of your lecture, it’s a flow chart drawing that’s artistic, and it’s big word, small print under it with a big arrow that curves over here to the big conclusion, and then a little bit of a sketch drawing, and then your four points over here. And they’re literally artistically interpreting the message.
Darrell Bock
In some cases, they’ve put it in their own words, and it wasn’t anything you said, but it’s something that trigged in them.
Louie Giglio
[Inaudible comment] And the next thing you know, no kidding, they got a tattoo of something you said in an image that they created.
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Louie Giglio
We used one of the student’s images at my talk at Passion. I did a series on Acts. I talked about the flaming arrow, who we are. We stole off of Instagram a girl’s flaming arrow that she had drawn in her Bible, and we recreated it for our art for the series and I used it at the conference this year, and the thing that you’ll see down – if you go the hashtag, is a lot of the image of this flaming arrow.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And yes, it does have some words on it and some arrows, and a whole message underneath it, but it’s the imagery that’s powerful. Jesus was a master at that, and God Almighty is a master of it. He put us in a universe. Why’d he put us in this giant cosmos? ‘Cause He knew we needed imagery.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
And so it’s not disrespectful to the text to create an image and a picture that people can’t forget.
Darrell Bock
Or tell stories.
Louie Giglio
Amen.
Darrell Bock
You know, I sometimes here the – “Well, this generation likes stories and we want doctrine” and I’m sitting here going “If you look at the inspired word of God, I think you will see a lot of narrative between covers.”
Louie Giglio
[Laughs] Yeah.
Darrell Bock
You know? And that’s because story is subtle in a way that oftentimes doctrine is not, and stories seep in in a way that doctrine does not.
Louie Giglio
Wow, that’s great. That’s great. And if you’ve got a doctrinally sound story, now you’re winning.
Darrell Bock
Exactly. Exactly right. And that’s what the scripture is.
Louie Giglio
‘Cause the doctrine is seeping in.
Darrell Bock
Exactly. That’s what the scripture is. The scripture are doctrinally sound stories that present the dilemmas of life like the ones we find ourselves in. Most of those characters aren’t perfect, and boom, you’re – and so I think there’s something attractive about unfolding the world of God to an age group that is narrative sensitive out of a Bible that is a lot of narrative.
Louie Giglio
I couldn’t agree more, and I think that just for myself – I’m almost 60, and anybody in my age zone, it’s good for us to make it one of our ambitions this year to try to become better communicators to new generation listeners.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Louie Giglio
That’s a good goal, versus saying “You know, I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t even know if I wanna do that, and I’ve only got a few more years anyway. Why bother?” I think our longevity and contribution to the future kingdom work of God is to learn to continually evolve as generational communicators.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. In fact, you’re going where I wanted to end up on this, which is I may not have a choice. [Laughter] Okay? Because in 10, 15 years, I’m out of here, and the church will be what’s coming up next.
Louie Giglio
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
So I better invest in what’s coming up next. Not necessarily to replicate exactly who I am, but hopefully to replicate the values that need to be present so they can be who they are in the way God has them.
Louie Giglio
Yeah. Absolutely.
Darrell Bock
Well Louie, I really do appreciate you taking the time to be in with us and be a part of this. This has been –
Louie Giglio
It’s been a treat for me. I wish you talked a lot more at the end of it.
Darrell Bock
Oh, no, no, no.
Louie Giglio
If I come back, will you talk the whole time?
Darrell Bock
No, we’ll just –
Louie Giglio
[Laughs]
Darrell Bock
We need to do this on occasion, just kinda update and keep it rolling, ’cause this has been fun.
Louie Giglio
Let’s do it.
Darrell Bock
And we wish you all the best at Passion. Thank you for your association with us.
Louie Giglio
I love it.
Darrell Bock
And we thank you for being a part of The Table, and we hope to see you again soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Louie Giglio
Louie Giglio is Pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA, and the Founder of Passion Conferences, a movement gathering collegiate-aged young people since 1997 in events across the US and around the globe. In 2008, Louie and his wife, Shelley, led the team that planted Passion City Church, a local community of faith with the DNA of the Passion movement. Their desire is to inspire this generation to live for what matters most.
Classic
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Religion
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