CP: Do you think young people are leveraging their power or the advantages that they have to affect change in different areas, or do you think they could be more active in certain areas?
Giglio: I think that they want to. I think that when you're 20, in some ways you're not really sure what to leverage and you're not really sure what your lane is in life. I think when you're 19, 20, the main focus is on really believing that God has a lane for you to run, that He has a purpose for you to live in and for you to try and discover what that is. That process is normally an investigation where we try something, try something else, take a trip, experience a different opportunity. I don't think most of these younger people are quite sure yet what is my influence going to be. I think where they are, they're active, they're serving globally, they're taking advantage of opportunities. We've seen them engaged with a number of causes… They are ready and willing to step in at any moment to make a difference in other people's lives.
CP: What was the vision you had for Passion when it started 17 years ago, and how has that vision changed or grown over the years?
Giglio: The vision 17 years ago was to see an awakening come to the 17 million university students in America at the time. We know, given some statistics, that the vast number of those 17 million do not have a relationship with Jesus. For us, we believe life is found when we come to know that we're created for God and by God, that's where life is found, that's where meaning and purpose is found. We want to see that message of hope and life in Christ come to the students of this nation, and we want to see Jesus lifted up in this country. We started with that vision.
I had spent 10 years on a college campus before Passion started. I've interacted with college students every single day for a decade, and I understood how important, how critical those years and what I call the university window are. The trajectory for our life to a large degree is set in that window when we're at a university. Our career paths are shaped, our key friendships and alliances are shaped. You look 5, 6, 10, 15 years later, that's where our direction is set.
That moment is also where a lot of people question faith — "Is this my faith? Is this my parents' faith? Is this just the church I grew up in? Do I really believe all this stuff?" I just feel like it's a critical place. Our next generation of leaders are all incubating in that university moment, so I want to stand there. I want to stand in that moment, at that crossroad where people are asking the question, making the decision, setting the course. I want to stay in that moment and be able to say to people, "Before you make whatever decision you're gonna make, consider Jesus." …
I just feel like being in that moment is where we want to be, so after 10 years of being on a campus, we opened our first Passion event with a vision to take that message to the whole nation. Seventeen years later, we're still here and honestly, that's a little bit of a humbling surprise for all of us. We never intended to be doing Passion conferences 17 years later. But as it turns out, every four years a new group of college students come through the doors ... so here we are and God is still raising His favor on us and we're still saying yes to Him as He leads us on.
Read part two of CP's interview with Louie Giglio, in which the Christian minister defines leadership, shares his thoughts on dropping out of President Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration ceremony, and discusses taking the Passion movement to an Arab country for the first time: Louie Giglio on True Leadership, Dropping Obama Inauguration, First-Ever Passion Visit to Arab Country (Part 2) .