I so wish I could share the video stream with you and pinpoint the exact points in the video where everything happened, but they’ve made it private for now. (10th August 2014.) Let’s hope that that will change in the future!
I am so aware that so many of my references to other Christians, or other church movements are overwhelmingly negative. I don’t agree with so and so, I’m totally unimpressed with such and such a movement… Well today, I am happy to give a resounding endorsement to a church movement. I have to quickly add the proviso that I’ve only just come across them, and I would much rather prefer to leave a full two years before giving a definitive analysis of what I think of any church/church movement. However from what I’ve seen so far, I am hugely impressed and I hope and pray that their passion for Christ will increase and more and not get adulterated through the threats posed by success.
The group in question actually is called Passion for Christ Movement, and from the tiny bit I have seen of them, they truly are passionate for Christ.
How I heard about them:
the first time I came across them, as far as I am aware, was when I saw this rendition of the spoken word, which totally blew me away, and talks about how far the church has gone from her Biblical roots. As far as I can, I always carefully assess whatever I hear for scriptural integrity, that is, true groundedness in scripture, and everything she said was truly grounded in scripture, and totally common-sense as well. She addressed many of the issues that I and many other people have identified about the modern church. However, crucially, I did not take a note of the details of who was speaking, or the website or anything. It was at that point just another scintillating item in the flotsam of Facebook life: brilliant and compelling, but ultimately I shared it on my wall from someone else’s post, and forgot about it.
Then a few months later, but still only a couple of months ago, I came across this poetry rendition.
Wow! I was once again completely blown away both by the talent demonstrated and the truth of what she was saying. I was so impressed that I posted it not only on my wall, but also as a post on “Finding Mr Huggie-Wuggie” . This time however, I did take a mental note of the name of the group.
And then someone shared the first post again, and I realised it was from the same group who had also produced the second amazing rendition. It was at this point that I sat up. Really?! However, I still procrastinated a little before actually checking them out.
I think I was so impressed because they specialise in delivering the spoken word, and words are my thing. What they were saying was not only lyrically beautiful, with fantastic delivery, but was also deeply, scripturally, thoroughly true. There was just no way I could help being impressed. So eventually I did indeed check out their website, and I subscribed to their Facebook page…
And then they started advertising their big annual conference, called Rhetoric.
Because the event was held in the States, they are a few hours behind and by the time it started it was already 1.30 am here in the UK – eventually finishing at 7.45 am, UK time! I only happened to be up at all because I had been editing some Huggie-Wuggie posts, determined to finish a certain number that night. Sincerely I really was not going to watch it. However, I thought to myself:
“Look, I am always criticising other Christian movements! Why don’t I at least invest this small effort to support another Christian movement for once, if only just by watching it, especially as this is one movement that I feel that I might be able to wholeheartedly endorse?!”
So I watched it. And oh my goodness, it was SO GOOD! I kinda wish I’d made more of an effort to encourage other people to watch it beforehand. I tried to make up for that by posting interesting snippets from the event on my Facebook wall. It was deeply challenging, and so cool! I thought (not for the first time): “Spiritually speaking (and friendship wise!), I am definitely in the wrong country!”
Unapologetically, achingly cool – but God first.
Man, wow! These people were young, hip – but God first. I’m good with “cool Christianity” – that is, I LOVE “cool Christianity” – but it has to be God first. On the other hand, I am equally happy with “uncool Christianity” – but it still has to be God first. Some Christians equate “being cool” with being “worldly”, ie, not truly living for Christ, and “being uncool” with being holy, but that is totally false both ways. Some of these uncool “Christians” are the most deficient in Christlike character that you could possibly imagine. On the other hand, that does not mean that “cool” immediately equates with “being truly Christlike” either, because that would also be completely false. Being holy is about your heart. Being “cool” is an expression of your external choices, the type of music that you listen to, how you carry your hair, arrange your clothes. These two things do not necessarily inform one another at all. Admittedly the type of music that you listen to can be holy, or not holy, but that is usually an issue of the lyrics, not the genre itself*, or your clothes can be a little too revealing, but that is true of all styles of dressing. As Christians we should know that.
Utter professionalism…but God first.
This is one of the things that annoys me about other churches or Christian movements. It is like you have to choose between being professional, and being truly holy. For a long time, I have been annoyed by churches which are almost excessively “slick”. By this I mean that the presentation and professionalism of their flyers, website etc is elevated to such an extent that it almost becomes the substance of what they offer, and Christ and His truth become sidelined. On the other hand, it also irritates me when you see a church where the website content has not been updated in 5 years, and proudly lists “upcoming events” for (eg) “Spring 2009”. With this particular event I think it is fair to say that the true substance remained Christ and His truth. However it was presented with such compelling and attractive professionalism, and excellence! These are people who have honed their craft to utter brilliance. It was challenging, inspiring, motivating – happy sigh!
Their leader – TQ, was so very funny, humble, sensitive, and so clearly grounded in God, and God’s word. Everything he said was funny, but also full of truth. For instance, there was one point where Janette Ikz, who is the poet in the post I shared on “Finding Mr Huggie-Wuggie”, sitting in the audience, rubbed her fiancé’s chest in full view of the camera. Immediately TQ, gently chided her, in that that action was a bit suggestive, a bit too intimate considering that they were not married yet, and reminded her of the need to wait and be strong for the last few months before they get married. And yet he did it in such a way that she could not possibly have been offended, and everyone burst out laughing. It was so funny, but I was deeply touched. So, so impressed!
Everything that everyone said truly struck home. There was one speaker, Matthew Strange, who was talking about the need for humility. He was talking about the fact that even as Christians we can crave attention, especially on social media, and almost worship the adulation and fame that is available online. There were a few things that he said which were so profound that I immediately shared them on my Facebook wall: he spoke about how as Christians it is so possible to be full of the Holy Spirit, (which is good) and yet also full of ourselves at the same time (which is not good!) At this I almost winced. So compellingly true for me, especially as I am someone who is trying to build a followership online. And then he also said that we are each way too small to be the centre of our own universe. Just wow!
And then they asked for money. And they were so direct about it, which I loved. “We are asking for your moneeeee!” I loved that! There was no dancing around, no twisting of Scripture, in fact no scripture references at all – they just asked. A while after this, a speaker spoke about how some supposedly “Christian” ministries suck money from their followers. At this TQ immediately responded, essentially saying “Yeah, that is bad – but we still accept large donations here!” At this I almost fell apart laughing. It was so humorous and so real!
Truly grounded in the Bible
They presented this Christian RnB artist, Christon Gray. Apparently he is quite well-known in the States, and not only in the Christian world. However I know so little about musicians and “artistes” generally, including Christians, that I’d never heard of him before coming across this movement. I’m always a little sceptical whenever I hear that phrase “Christian RnB artist”, because experience has taught me to be a little dubious as to how Christian many of these artists truly are. But then he sang a couple of well-known Christian worship songs, and I was somewhat shocked. He seemed to sing them with sincere feeling rather than those exaggerated flourishes that “Gospel artists” seem to love. And then also the choice of songs indicated to me that this man actually is a Christian. Yeah, and to be honest, like most of them he is not unattractive looking – ha ha! However like with most of them, yeah he also happens to be married, though he is a number of years younger than I am. (That was the first thing I checked – ha ha!) Why do these Americans get married so young?! Ah, the injustice of life!
The actual event was apparently sold out, with 3000+ people. Watching the live stream, there was so much positivity from other people who were also watching it remotely, there was a general yearning that God alone be glorified, there was unity;, people were pouring out so much love and joy and encouragement – wow! The whole thing was simply astounding. I was totally blown away! Not only was it breathtaking, but it also ignited a yearning in my heart. These are the kind of people I would love to be around, to be inspired by, to learn from. This is the kind of Christian community that I crave. This is the kind of thing I’ve dreamt of for so long, and despaired of finding. So many people in one place, loving God, giving one thousand percent to their God, and doing it so attractively! And putting God and His word resoundingly, uncompromisingly first. As I write this I’m thinking…I’m thinking hard!!! 😉
All that said, I have to forcibly drag myself down to earth. As amazing as this movement is, and as impressed as I have been, I would always rather encourage people to pursue God Himself. God Himself is the glory of the universe. You just cannot go wrong when you seek the actual source of beauty and light and life. God is the giver of talent, He is the giver of excellence, the giver of every good thing. What was so beautiful about P4CM was that they so consistently pointed back to God and kept reminding everyone of the need to give the glory to God. And yet this will continue to be their biggest challenge, I’m sure, as they become better and better known.
So please yes, check out P4CM – but pursue God Himself – always God, and God alone. All the glory belongs to God, always God, and God alone. Thank God for talent, and inspiration, and motivation, and encouragement, but it is God that should be thanked.
This is what P4CM were insisting themselves! 😉
*I’d say heavy metal would be an exception to this. Even without actually specifically hearing the lyrics, to me it sounds heavy and dark. However I concede that my thinking this could well be the effect of my Christian conditioning…
…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,…