God

Jun 28, 2016 by Josh de Keijzer

Is Nick Hall the New ‘Billy Graham’ For Today?

It’s hard to say what’s more compelling about Nick Hall, the founder of Pulse and visionary behind Together 2016: the fact that he, like Billy Graham before him, is reaching millions of young people with a fresh and contemporary articulation of the gospel or the fact that he is soft-spoken and humble. As he speaks to me on the phone—our original face-to-face conversation through Skype had to be canceled due to bad coffee shop wifi—I don’t encounter a big ego but a man passionate to reach the current generation with the gospel of Christ. He prefers to talk about his team of friends and co-workers who are building a vast network of organizations and leaders to fulfill that passion.

Yet, over the past 10 years, Nick has reached 2.5 million young people in person and seen more than 525,000 of them respond to the Gospel. His work will culminate in Together 2016, a great event that will take place on July 16th when about one million Christians from all backgrounds will gather in Washington D.C. to unite around Jesus. Toward this end, Nick has recently published a book called ‘Reset’ in which people are invited to reset their lives with Jesus. Time for an interview with the man behind Together 2016.

this is not a political event. This is a Jesus event. We really want to unite and really believe that whether you are a democrat, republican, independent, or whatever, there is a hope that is offered and there is a message that is needed.

Nick, you come across as very driven. Apparently, you’ve had this urge to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ from an early age. Are you the new ‘Billy Graham’?
“Ha ha ha! It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if that is what God has in mind, I guess. I just want to be faithful to God’s call in my life for this day and generation. Yes, I do look up to Billy Graham. He mentors through his life and I traveled with the Billy Graham team for about 10 years. I do believe our generation really needs voices like Billy Graham who just keep it on the main thing. For so many years people have tried to get him to talk about a hundred other issues and he always brought it back to the cross and the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is my passion to have only one thing to talk about and that is Christ.”

With your organization Pulse you are organizing this huge event ‘Together 2016’ that is to take place on July 16th. Can you tell me a little more about this and who all is involved?
“We at Pulse are the ones behind it in terms of launching it, casting the vision, and trying to get leadership involved. But all in all, there are more than 375 organizations that have dropped their logos and re-arranged their schedules to come together for this event. It’s a huge deal. There are thousands of churches that have joined us. Together 2016 is an initiative to rally our nation around the hope found in Christ. We believe God cares for us and wants to move in our day. All in all we are hoping for one million people on the National Mall in Washington D.C.”

With this being an election year, is there going to be a political message at Together 2016?
“No, this is not a political event. This is a Jesus-event. We really want to unite and really believe that whether you are a democrat, republican, independent, or whatever, there is a hope that is offered and there is a message that is needed. So we just come here to pray for our own lives, pray for our nation. It isn’t really about any particular issue or agenda because the only agenda is Jesus. We are not coming for what we are against, but for what He is for. We believe Christ offers life, love, and a model of friendship that entails loving your enemies. Jesus can change everything.”

How do you expect one million people to unite in a country that is extremely polarized politically and culturally? People are shouting at each other from across the barricades of entrenched positions but hardly anyone is listening to arguments of the opposition.
“Yeah, I think you are spot on. Division is everywhere. Politics, the economy, race, religion, and even our causes divide us. But it is in the midst of that that we really see that there is a longing in people’s hearts to come together. I especially think that younger leaders desire models that show that we can gather with folks that we disagree with on many issues. We can find common ground. We can work together for the common good. Jesus is an example of leadership. Even Gandhi, together with so many famous dignitaries and leaders throughout history, looked to Jesus’ life as an example.”

Nick Hall and Pulse, though solidly evangelical, show clear signs of being attuned to the postmodern age in which we live. At Together 2016 doctrinal boundaries are de-emphasized in favor of Christ as the welcoming center for all.

When you say you want to unite people around Jesus, what kind of unity do you have in mind? Is it a unity around 'your version' of Jesus? Is your take on the world still the condition for unity, as is so often the case?
“I totally get what you mean. No, there’s nothing like an explicit statement of faith. We are not trying to tell who gets in or who stays out. Our desire is, without compromising the Jesus of the Scriptures, to point to his words, life, and example. Ultimately Jesus sets the table and it is very clear from Scripture that Jesus welcomes everyone. If we don’t have this openness but become defined by our judgments we are missing the point of the message of the gospel. We simply believe that Jesus offers a reset to each and everyone.”

So if a group of LGBT Christians would show up they’d be welcome too?
“Yes! Totally welcome!”

Nick Hall and Pulse, though solidly evangelical, show clear signs of being attuned to the postmodern age in which we live. At Together 2016 doctrinal boundaries are de-emphasized in favor of Christ as the welcoming center for all. That Nick is serious about this ecumenical open-mindedness, is clear from the fact that he has managed to get pope Francis to agree to extend an invitation to all Christians in the United States to attend Together 2016.

The sensitivity to Millennials shows in the incredible line-up of artists and speakers Pulse has been able to schedule. Confirmed speakers and artists include: Hillsong United, Francis Chan, Lecrae, Nick Hall, Passion, Crowder, Kirk Franklin, Ravi Zacharias, Jeremy Camp, Andy Mineo, Michael W. Smith, Lauren Daigle, Christine Caine, Mark Batterson, Matthew West, Jo Saxton, Mike Kelsey, Casting Crowns, John K. Jenkins, Sr., Josh McDowell, Laurel Bunker, Tedashii, Tasha Cobbs, Lacey Sturm, York Moore, Trip Lee, Sammy Rodriguez, Ronnie Floyd, Reid Saunders, Bob Lenz, Jose Zayas, Jennie Allen, Nabeel Qureshi, and Josh Brewer.

The encounter with Jesus is not like a magical wand you can wave. We carry our past with us, but it no longer needs to define us. We can bring it out to the light of God’s grace and there God is able to begin that reset process with us.

Your line-up is pretty insane. Plenty of people will be interested. But how well are you on track to getting the one million?
“It’s going to be interesting. We have over 300,000 that are registered and the parks are already anticipating over 400,000 people. So the movement is really gaining momentum. We also just announced that the pope is going to do an official invitation which in turn is opening many other doors of dialogue and invitation. The needs of our day are bigger than the things that divide us so we think the time is now. We are praying for a generation that would model Jesus to the world.”

Your message is that Jesus changes everything. How is it that Jesus offers a reset?
“Ten years ago we were students at a university. There were so many struggling with substance abuse, self-harm, depression, and suicide. We then started to reach out to students on campus and people started changing. The students I was working with said they were praying for a reset for our generation. I said: “What do you mean?” They responded by saying that when you reset a computer or a video game, it simply starts working again. We started playing with this concept and discovered that ‘reset’ also means that errors get cleared and that it gets the system working again toward its intended purpose.”

“Jesus came to offer the ultimate reset, the ultimate new beginning. He called it the new birth in his conversation with Nicodemus, but there are many other terms used for this change in our culture. No matter what you are facing or going through, Jesus literally changes everything. He changed history, He changed me, He changed you, and He can change our generation. My book 'Reset’ tells the story of that reset movement and on July 16th we hope to pray for that same reset for our entire nation.”

Does that mean that Jesus makes everything ok with one push of a button? I mean, we have scars, we have a past, we go through suffering…
The encounter with Jesus is not like a magical wand you can wave. We carry our past with us, but it no longer needs to define us. We can bring it out to the light of God’s grace and there God is able to begin that reset process with us.

Nick is for real and so is his message. Get his book "Reset: Jesus Changes Everything" and check the Pulse and the Together 2016 websites. Be part of the movement and book your ticket to Washington D.C. on July 16th today.



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