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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

6 Things I learned From Passion 2014

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community, Experience, Leadership, Worship

Being an Experience Architect I’ve followed and watched numerous so-called movements come and go over the past 20 years. I love to sit with my inquisitive look and watch closely as they emerge, grow, spread, and take root with different audiences.

I dare say no movement has had any greater impact on me personally than the Passion movement.

6 Things I Learned From Passion 2014

photo via Louie’s instagram feed

This past weekend over 17,000 students ages 18-25 gathered in Houston, Tx for the second weekend of Passion 2014. My sadness, for not being able to attend was quickly turned to joy upon hearing late Friday evening that the whole event would be streamed live for FREE! (They’ll be replaying all 6 sessions today, so in case you missed it, go here to watch.)

Passion’s Conferences have always been a leader in terms of producing awesome experiences, and Houston’s was no different. With dynamic speakers like Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Judah Smith, and lead worshippers like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill, and Christy Nockels, Passion 2014 was an experience that challenged and impacted thousands of lives.

While I have pages of notes, here are some of initial takeaways that I think you’ll be challenged by as well. (I’ve personalized these, but I think you’ll get the idea and in turn personalize them for yourself as well.)

1. Similar to Isaiah, when I see the Father, see the cross, and ultimately experience the gospel, I come to understand that it was MY cross that Christ died on for ME. It was MY death that He died. It was MY shame, MY guilt that He chose to endure to give me the hope of heaven.

Experiencing this gospel takes me to my knees. It’s a point of no return, and gives me the only lens by which everything else makes sense.

2. I often pick the wrong fights. This area is honestly something I’m going to really have to seek the Father in over the coming months. So many times I allow the “shiny objects,” whatever those may be at any given moment to distract me, robbing and stealing my margin, joy, and ultimately my strength.

From a place of peace and rest, I can pierce the darkness carrying the message that I’ve been uniquely created to carry.

3. My position determines the direction of my steps. Too often I say that I know that I am in Christ, but live as though it’s my will and move out into the world in my power. This is backward and ineffective. It’s what contributes to the maddening cycles I experience over and over again.

The simple truth is that I am in Christ. I am a new creation. No longer do I need to waste the emotional and mental bandwidth fretting over things that steal my peace. This again is connected to peace and rest.

4. I am standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before me. Often times I carry the unnecessary weight of believing that I have to figure it all out. This can’t be farther from the truth. The holy discontent that burns in my soul is a means of grace. It’s a vehicle by which I can know the Father in all His glory even more.

My rest here is found in knowing what the Father has called me to, He is the one who is faithful to complete. It’s HIS reputation at stake, not mine. I am not my own. That’s the path to abiding in His perfect peace.

5. I live in a world with a constant barrage of messaging seeking to inform a pervasive sense of entitlement. The brutal reality here is that the only thing I’ve been entitled to is death. And I’m absolutely entitled to that. This isn’t the sort of news we like to discuss much but it should be what leads us to worship. My defensiveness to the reminder of my own brokenness is an indicator of exactly where I still need healing.

No entitlements, no earthly achievements deserve my boasting. The only thing that truly deserves my boasting is the complete and finished work of Christ on the cross for me.

6. Experiencing the gospel does 3 things to me. It stuns me, sears me, and sends me out. I can barely talk about my story of grace without breaking down, not because it’s any better than anyone else’s but because I know the before and after. I know where I’ve come from. I know what life used to look like.

This stunning experience of grace has seared me, marked me, and forever changed me. I am no longer my own. Having been bought with a price, it is now my purest pleasure to be sent out retelling His story.

While these 6 takeaways are just a start to the many notes I made, I could realistically go on and on about Passion and Louie and Shelley Giglio, and the team they’ve assembled to lead the Passion Movement. I’ve been fortunate enough to know many of them for years now and without a doubt they continue to show me what authentic worship and leadership truly looks like.

If you watched the live stream, or were able to attend in person what were your takeaways? I’d love hear them!

If you didn’t but would like to catch the replay, click here and you can watch all 6 sessions for FREE! You don’t want miss it!

NOTE: If this is the first time you’ve visited thejoshcollins [dot] com, then welcome! I’m glad you’re here! It would give me no greater joy than to give you a FREE copy of The Awesome Manifesto just because, well, I want to! You can either click subscribe or enter your best email address below and in a few short moments, you’ll have in your hands (via your screen that is) the most important truth you’ll ever come to know!

Posted on: February 17, 2014

You’ll Be Known By Your Love

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community, Experience, Marriage

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s day. Ok that’s not entirely correct, it’s more hate than love. I think most married men can relate to those feelings. Mostly because the one word that seems to be synonymous with Valentine’s day is the word expectations. In a relationship it’s hard enough to not have expectations and around holidays they certainly seem to get ratcheted up to another level.

But what I do love, not just about Valentine’s day, but any other day for that matter is loving people. I love communicating and giving someone an experience so they know they are valued, seen, and loved just as they are.

I’ve had many conversations with my single friends who tell me how hard this holiday is for them. They often feel left out, singled out, out-of-place, and without a home.

Without a home! Can you imagine feeling that?

They have told me how even their closest friends tend to gloss over their reality and often times don’t even reach out at all. It’s in these conversations I hear both a tremendous amount of pain and a beautiful amount of opportunity to experience the gospel.

Scripture is pretty clear here, for us who believe.

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:34-45

So you know what would be awesome today?

Instead of withdrawing into a somewhat normal routine with all things familiar, how about you reach out to the person next to you who is feeling left out, singled out, out-of-place, and without a home.

Instead of buying the most expensive gift, or most expensive bouquet of flowers, how about you pick up the phone and call that person, take them to coffee or to a movie.

Even better, organize something with them and your family.

Show them the gospel.

Let them experience the gospel by your love for them.

Include them rather than being another reminder to them that they are different on this holiday.

That would create something truly awesome!

Posted on: February 14, 2014

This Is Where Life Is Found

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Experience

A couple friends of mine, Jeff Goins and Shaun Groves, are currently in Uganda with a great organization called Compassion International. They are part of a group of bloggers working with Compassion to celebrate and tell the story of all that God has done in 5 years of working in that country. (You should follow the whole team on Twitter)

I’ve worked alongside Compassion for years now and sponsor a child myself. If you’re currently not sponsoring one of these awesome kids through Compassion, then now is the perfect opportunity. With this trip, their team has set a goal of sponsoring 400 kids, and you can be a part of making that goal a reality.

Where Life is Found

Photo Credit: reurinkjan via Compfight cc

Thinking about these guys and the experience they are embarking on, led me to remember a trip I made to Tibet many years ago.

I’ll spare you the details, but one of my fondest memories from Tibet was the experience of sitting there atop the highest peak in the village where I was staying. The Tibetan Plateau is often referred to as “The Roof of the World,” so you can imagine the view I had in those sacred moments.

I’ve never forgotten the vision I had atop that mountain. The sky was so clear I could see for miles and miles. There appeared to be tiny villages one after another, scattered all throughout the valley below.

What a truly awesome perspective to behold.

I still refer back to those memories from time to time, and to this day they still teach me a great a lesson.

We were not created to live atop the mountain.

It was obvious to me, sitting there on that peak, where life could be found. On that ledge, I was alone, I was isolated. But I could see all across the valley, one village after another, full of life.

The air was so thin, yet so pure, I easily found myself struggling to catch my breath after the climb. Listening to the team leaders’ wisdom, I made sure to bring some water and a few snacks with me that day. “It’s too dangerous, attempting to climb without the right provisions,” they said. And of course they were right.

Do you know what I found up on that mountain? Nothing. Nothing apart from what I brought up of course.

Aside from the well-worn path other travelers had made, there was nothing but me, the view, and the glory of God. Were I to get thirsty or hungry up there, I would have been in trouble had it not been for the little things I brought with me.

I may have traveled up that mountain with just a few supplies, but I sure did come down with a whole lot more.

My journey has led me to experience numerous valleys since those weeks spent in Tibet. I’ve agonized as I’ve trekked through them, wanting to relive that mountain top experience again. In the silence and in the hard providence of those valleys, I’ve looked back, wanting to once again behold that majestic view.

In some ways, life was simpler there. My vision was cut and dry. Things were segmented and fit in their little pockets better from that angle. On top of that mountain, it was easy to see what’s ahead, down below, and around the bend.

I imagine that’s a bit of what Moses felt, after spending 40 days atop that mountain. I hear him thinking how much he longed to return to that glorious beauty, that marvelous wonder.

But the fact is we were not created to live on the mountain.

In the valley there is life, and in the valley is where your invitation stands before you. (tweet and share)

That invitation doesn’t sit idle though, it’s calling your name. It’s passionately pursuing you. Eldredge speaks of this in The Sacred Romance.

Similar to how my friends left the country and are pursuing those in Uganda, the Father came down in pursuit of you.

How will you answer? How will you respond?

What happens next, sets the course of your life.

Have you had an experience like mine in Tibet? What lessons did it teach you?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: January 29, 2014

What The Church Needs To Learn About Awesome Experiences

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Experience

Here’s what a typical conversation sounds like when I meet someone for the first time and they find out what I do for a living.

Person: “So what exactly is it that you do?”

Me: “Well, I’m a Communicator and an Experience Architect.”

Person: “So what exactly is it that you do?”

Me: (Insert friendly laugh) “Basically, for the last 15 years I’ve been traveling all over the world working with churches, entertainers, speakers, and all sorts of other live entertainment, creating awesome experiences.”

Person: “OH, WOW! That sounds so exciting.”

Me: “Thanks, I consider myself extremely blessed.”

Person: “So like, who have you worked for? Anyone famous?”

Me: (Responds with a kind laugh and smile) “Sure, I’ve worked with (drops a name like Snoop drops a mic) and (someone else for good measure) and tons of other people.”

From here it just gets weird, but I think you get the point.

Now all that may come off like I think I’m a big deal or something like that, but trust me, I’m not. I’m the farthest thing from it. To be honest with you, I’m a guy with more burned bridges and failures in my past than most.

But I am a man who’s experienced the gospel firsthand, and has no hope but to rely on it daily if not minute by minute. In addition to that, it’s my passion to create opportunities to lead others in experiencing this great gospel for themselves. And I gain no more joy than doing that inside the church.

What The Church Needs To Learn About Awesome Experiences

Photo Credit: whittmedia via Compfight cc

Except there is only one problem these days. Rarely is the church interested in creating awesome experiences.

Of course there are some exceptions, I’ve worked with them and actually been on staff at one of them as well, but for the most part, churches in America are telling a story that says they really aren’t interested in creating better experiences. They have created a narrative that says mediocrity is ok, somehow having disconnected from the pleasure God receives from the excellence we bring (worship).

If you don’t buy into that or believe that, you’re being a little naive, just look at some simple statistics.

You do know a “National Back to Church Sunday” has been created, right? Why would such a thing need to exist if not to address a larger issue? But I digress.

Obviously this subject is too big to completely cover in a single post, but I do want to shine a light on 3 of the biggest things the church needs to learn here.

1. The church misunderstands what worship truly is. I believe the one thing the church would agree on, would be that worship is much more than any weekend gathering. But this is obviously the case because the church continues to create weekend environments based solely on tradition, using language that doesn’t fit with what the bible describes as authentic worship.

“God’s heart is not touched by tradition in worship, but by passion and commitment.” – Rick Warren

I’m not saying tradition is bad, not at all, many times tradition is what leads us to create sacred spaces where by we can experience the gospel. But when tradition becomes more important and is the vehicle that silences input from the body, then clearly we miss the point.

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29:13 

2. Experiences are what shape our reality, and create lasting impact in our lives. Having been created in the image of our Creator, our brains are wired to process life through our felt experiences. Neuroplasticity explains how our brains make connections, storing and recalling memories through our experiences.

“We need to experience God rather than fill in the blanks about God.” – Chris McAlister

Relevant Magazine recently did a story on Louie Giglio and Passion. If you’re not familiar with the Passion movement, you’re missing out on something that has dramatically shaped the church’s culture over the last 17 years. Passion has a very strong reputation for always producing some of the most excellent, awesome experiences the modern church has ever witnessed. In the article, they specifically talk about Passion ’99 as still to this day being one of the best and most talked about events. I happened to be there, and can tell you firsthand, that I’ve never been the same since that experience.

“I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.” Genesis 30:27

3. Emotions aren’t everything but they are more than nothing. Many times the spiritually elite relegate emotion as being something to shove aside, but the beauty of our emotions and how we experience them is often times the primer for how the Father is drawing us and wooing us unto Him. By pressing in to these divinely created emotions, we can find comfort and healing through our felt experiences.

“Our problem…..is that we do not realize that there is no genuine worship where feelings for God are not quickened. There is not true worship where the heart is far from God. But the heart’s approach to God happens in the quickening of our feelings for God. Therefore, where feelings are dead, so is worship.” – John Piper

This of course doesn’t give license to manipulate emotion in a vain attempt to provoke the Spirit, but rather by coming alongside it when creating atmospheres of sacred space, the church can come to know more of who God is.

“Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children — this was his pleasure and purpose.” Ephesians 1:5

Regardless of what flavor (denomination) church you attend or cling to, there’s no doubt we could all agree that if the studies and surveys prove anything to be true, then the church needs to take a long hard look at how it’s gathering are created and executed.

I firmly believe that if you’re not actively looking at how to create better experiences in your church, then you’re missing out on fulfilling the mission of the church.

Have you ever had a bad experience attending church or visiting a church?

Share in the comments below!

By the way, if you’re interested in talking more about this and want to work with me to create a better experience for your church or event, shoot me an email at josh [at] thejoshcollins [dot] com.

Posted on: January 15, 2014

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Josh Collins
Franklin, TN
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