Why Louie Giglio’s new worship definition lacks air

Passion 2013 has just completed with 60,000 college students who gathered in Atlanta. It’s amazing to see the conference continuing to reach so many college students. Carolyn and I attended the first four Passion events – 1997 and 1998 in Austin, 1999 in Fort Worth and 2000 was the first “One Day” in Memphis (we camped out at Shelby Farms with our UAM BCM group).

As I was driving today, KLOVE interviewed Chris Tomlin, and asked about how Louie described worship at the Passion Conference. I’d seen several posts about it, and Tomlin also regurgitated Louie’s “new” definition:

Worship is simply giving God back his breath. (Link)

The KLOVE dj gave a warm-fuzzy little gasp to accentuate the supposed profundity of the definition.

But here’s the problem. God never lost His breath. I am not nit-picking here, and I have a lot of respect for Louie Giglio. However, this new “definition” or description of worship is an exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading depiction of worship.

I think I understand what Louie is trying to communicate. It’s a nice thought. The idea is that God “breathed” life into man (Genesis 2.7), and our worship is somehow returning to God what He’s given us.

However, God is not dependent upon us. He is not out-of-breath, doubled over, panting in heaven. Our worship does not add to God’s worth. That would be as impossible as throwing a lit match onto the Sun, and seeing if it raised its temperature. God is completely and independently glorious.

Our adoration and worship of Him actually brings our hearts into alignment with Him rather than some romanticized idea of our giving God His breath back.

Without having attended Passion this year, I’m not quite sure about the context of the definition. Louie could also be trying to say that when Christians genuinely worship, God’s breath is able to be spread in more places, in more hearts. However, when you have to define or qualify a definition, it probably doesn’t need to be used as a definition. It may be a nice warm-fuzzy, but it’s not helpful.

While many of us somewhat understand what Louie is trying to communicate, let’s not perpetuate a definition that communicates inaccuracies about worship and God’s sufficiency in and of Himself.

I’m grateful for how the Passion movement has inspired thousands of collegians to a deep love, affection and sacrificial obedience to Jesus Christ. The early days of the movement were theologically grounded and revolutionized a generation’s understanding of the glory of God. My prayer is that the movement continues to exalt Christ and His gospel instead of causes and careless phrases.

On this day...


  1. D.Lewis says:
    I don’t think that Louie Giglio is making the point to say that God is ever dependent upon us; I think that his sermon Indescribable clearly shows how incredible powerful and awesome God is. In a similar perspective as the Parable of the Talents, when we reach the end of our lives we give God back the things he gave to us. Just because we give God something it does not mean he insufficient or any less God .
    1. Jeff says:
      D., like I said above, “Without having attended Passion this year, I’m not quite sure about the context of the definition.” So, I’m glad to hear from you – who apparently listened to his sermon that is indeed the case.

      I also said, “However, when you have to define or qualify a definition, it probably doesn’t need to be used as a definition. It may be a nice warm-fuzzy, but it’s not helpful.”

      I think Tomlin (and others who were at Passion) should be careful about taking a statement like that out of context. It truly renders the overall point ineffectual. It needlessly romanticizes the beauty of worship into a statement that isn’t helpful in its clarity.

  2. Aaron says:
    The context of Giglio’s definition was out of Ezekiel 37. His point was that Christ has breathed life into us, that being eternal life, so the only way we can possibly respond is to give God his breath back. It has nothing to do with God having lost his breath. It is in the context of our only logical response to God giving us life is to give our life for him.
    1. Jeff says:
      I understand Louie’s context, but when that single quote is used by others (see how I referenced Chris Tomlin’s use of it in the radio interview above), it’s once-removed from the context and thus confusing and even when repeated as a viable definition for worship, careless.
  3. Chris says:
    this argument sounds a lot like straining a gnat of semantics to swallow a camel of accusation…
    1. Chris says:
      I should have been more thorough – Jeff I appreciated a particular statement in your post. “God is completely and independently glorious.” So good. However, the picture of worship we see in Revelation involves the response of His creation as a culmination of worship. He stands altogether worthy of praise, but our response to His worthiness is the completion of that circle – for all things of OF Him, THROUGH Him, and BACK TO Him.
      1. Jeff says:
        Chris, I completely agree, and I understand your comment as well about straining gnats… I want to be extremely gracious to Louie. His ministry has had a huge impact in my life. However, as Christian leaders, it’s monumentally important that we consider what our analogies and language mean and say what we mean and mean what we say. Sometimes, a beautiful analogy breaks down rather quickly, and those that use it after us are not quick to point out its shortcomings. Then something we’ve said (and in Louie’s case, a lot of what he says) gets repeated out of context as gospel, when actually it was simply meant to amplify an original point.

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