Brad Jones thinks that just maybe some of those national studies that show millennials are losing faith in God are off base.
He has more than 50,000 reasons to think so.
That’s how many 18- to 25-year-olds are expected to pack the Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for Passion 2017 , a huge faith-based conference that will bring together young Christians from more than 90 nations.
“Maybe the statistics are wrong because it looks like Jesus is doing something big in this generation,” said Jones, global ambassador for Passion conferences and a pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta. “I don’t believe it’s as bad as it seems.
A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that millennials are less likely than older Americans to be religious, although they may believe in God and have spiritual practices. Only about four-in-10 millennials say religion is very important in their lives.
Additional, 27 percent of millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, much lower than 38 percent of baby boomers and 51 percent of the so-called silent and greatest generations.
“College students are at that critical time in life and the decisions you make can affect the trajectory of your life, specifically about your faith,” Jones said. “We want to stand at that crossroads and point people toward what matters most and that, we would say, is the name and glory of Jesus.”
Passion grew out of a Bible study started in Texas two decades ago by Louie and Shelley Giglio as a way to reach college students and their leaders interested in a deeper understanding of Christianity and God. It includes several prominent speakers, including Louie Giglio, lead pastor of Passion City Church; Levi Lusko, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, Christine Caine and Katherine and Jay Wolf. There will also be performances by Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Hillsong UNITED and Crowder.
In 2013, Giglio withdrew from delivering the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony after gay rights activists complained about anti-gay comments the evangelical pastor made in a 1990s sermon.
For the first time, the gathering, which will include 2,500 volunteers, or door holders as they’re called, will open its doors during the night sessions to alumni and those over age 25. Tickets range from $25 to $40.
In previous years, students have given more than $8 million to fight modern-day slavery through “The END IT Movement. Students will also participate in another effort, “Make History Together.” Details will be revealed during the conference.
Attendees are being asked to bring new towels and socks that will be distributed to homeless shelters.
“It’s pretty mindblowing when you think about it,” Jones said. “More than 1,600 universities will be represented. It may be nothing like the ( Chick-fil-A) Peach Bowl. It may be nothing like the Falcons’ game, but it’s probably the most significant event in January that will alter the landscape of people’s lives, families, businesses and countries. Who knows who will be sitting in that arena? We’re not bragging but we believe what happens from Monday to Wednesday is going to be very significant.”
Jan. 2-4 (times vary)
Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center
Current prices range from $189 to$209
Georgia Dome has a clear-bag policy