Louie Giglio got his start on college campuses before going on to launch the Passion conferences, events aimed at bringing students together to worship. Even as the founder of Sixsteps Records, home to familiar Passion players David Crowder, Chris Tomlin and Charlie Hall, his heart is still with college students. On the heels of OneDay 2003, a worship event that drew 25,000 students to Sherman, Texas, Giglio took time out from teaching and planning, to talk to songs4worship.com. Here's what he had to say...
S4W.com: How did you get started?
Giglio: My roots are collegiate ministry. I was leading a campus ministry back at Baylor University starting in 1985, and we wanted to incorporate a stronger worship piece than what was happening then. We didn't have a band, we didn't have a lead worshiper or any musicians, so we started where we were, with a desire to lift God up and to magnify him corporately. For the 10 years we were there at Choice Bible Study, I spoke every week and was part of the musical worship as well.
Why the move from music toward more teaching and planning?
I think it was a recognition that other people are more gifted in the leading of worship, musically. My gifting lies more in not just speaking, but the overall big picture of putting the pieces of worship together. All that is worship. I say a lot of times that I feel one of the dangers of the church is that our terminology often becomes theology. I'll go somewhere to speak and someone and will give me the rundown of the night and it will be "we're gonna open with some worship and do some announcements and they you're gonna speak and then we're gonna close with some more worship."
If worship is happening before I speak and after I speak then what is actually happening while I speak? Because I always thought that was worship also. Some people say its semantics, but if you ask the average person in the church to talk about worship, pretty soon they're going to be talking about songs and about music. Unfortunately, in the New Testament there's just not a lot of support for worship around those ideas. Most of the New Testament material about worship has to do with serving and living and not so much to do with singing and playing.
What makes a song or any act for that matter worshipful?
Something becomes worshipful when we do it unto the Lord for the sake of glorifying Him.
How do you explain the powerful connection between music and worship expression?
Music is powerful because it seems to touch the soul in a way the spoken word can but doesn't always. There's something about the rhythm that connects with something internal that God put inside of us. I think that's why the musical expression of worship is so strong, because it immediately engages us on multiple levels. I don't think that's a bad thing. I just feel the danger has come when we've narrowly defined worship in that scope and have failed to really understand that there are many, many other expressions that are just as significant.
What role does prayer play and do you feel it's given its due in worship?
What Passion is known for is worship, but really what we do is gather people for prayer. What we've seen as the most powerful combination is intercession and worship combined as one thing. I think there is a tremendous sense of synergy when we realize that many of the songs we sing are prayers and then we see the role that our corporate intercession plays and we weave all those things together.
What is the role of confession and repentance in worship?
I think they are always inseparable from our journey with God. We're on the backside of Calvary and our forgiveness is complete. There's no more transacting. If I confess, I get forgiven, but Paul says "Be kind to one another. Forgive each other just as God has forgiven you." I don't feel like people get that sometimes. I fee like we're still working a transactional forgiveness system.
What are the essentials you could not do without in worship?
If I'm gonna grab two or three things in a hurry because I know I'm going off for six years to be alone, I'm gonna grab a couple of hymnals and the Word. The Word is the only essential thing and it's not even essential. At the end of the day there's enough revelation of God all around us to foster a truckload of worship.
What has been the greatest challenge you've faced in ministry?
The biggest challenge for me perennially is coming and staying in a place where I can know for sure that I'm doing what God's doing, so I can know why I'm doing what I'm doing. If I don't know why we're starting a label then I'm sunk even if we have a million dollars in the bank. And if I don't know why we're doing Passion then I'm certainly not going to pay the price it takes for a little crew like us to pull something like that off. To come away and say this is what God is doing and we've gotten still enough, quiet enough, focused enough long enough to hear that. It's the greatest challenge. It's easy to come up with great ideas and feel like we've accomplished a lot, and at the end of day realize we weren't doing what God is doing and it's not going to last.
What's the most important thing you want to teach people about worship?
If they get lifestyle worship then I think we've accomplished a tremendous amount. If they see everything they do as a reflection of the character of God, and if they see every opportunity they have as an opportunity to glorify God and to magnify God, then I think we've reset the parameters for the worship discussion.
Why this mission, this message of worship?
Because it's ultimate. Only one thing gets to become ultimate. The challenge is finding out what it is. I feel like, from a quick read of scripture, that God's glory is ultimate and wed to that is our opportunity with our life to be a part of his glory which is what worship is all about. So I feel like worship, in that sense, is the ultimate thing and that's why I've been compelled for a long, long time to try to talk about it teach people about it, participate in it, live it, model it.... I want to be proclaiming that ultimate thing.