O2 Kalispell

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Four years ago, in 2011, we hosted an O2 Experience in Kalispell, so wrapping up this tour in the same place was super special. Looking back at how much has changed and all God has done from then until now is astonishing. From the event branding to the execution of the evening to how much our team has grown, and most importantly the lives God has changed (over 4,000 decisions for Christ at O2 since that 2011 event!), it’s staggering what we get to be a part of.

We hosted O2 Kalispell in the historic Liberty Theatre downtown, shutting down the block in front of the venue and filling the street with food vendors, local partner organizations and a fun, street festival style vibe. The coolest thing about this space was seeing people of all ages fill the outside seating to watch the event on a giant LED screen. People filled the chairs, sat on the curb, leaned against building walls and stood to hear the gospel and God’s plan for their sex lives. The Liberty Theatre and our overflow space in the Strand Theatre were also filled.

There are so many incredible churches in the Flathead Valley, and it was great to see their support and encouragement for this event. We saw churches and organizations from several different communities bring groups with them. One of the things we emphasize as we do these events is those who make commitments to Christ get plugged into local churches. It’s encouraging to see the body of Christ working together for His glory.

The vibe of the whole event was high-energy and super fun – a great way to end our summer O2 run. Throughout the course of the three-city Montana tour we saw 160 decisions for Christ and 806 commitments to strength and honor. We love taking the O2 Experience on the road – across the country and someday across the world – but there’s no place like the Last Best Place.

Here’s the Kalispell lookbook:

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O2 Missoula

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The second stop on our summer O2 tour was in Missoula, a college town with a population close to 70,000. Called the Garden City, or Zoo Town, Missoula is situated in a river valley and home to a lively downtown scene. We held the event in a killer location at the Valentine Community Center, positioned right off of a main retail area in the city.

This was the first time we’d ever had an O2 event in Missoula. It’s all part of launching into deeper waters, not knowing how things will go but taking the risk anyway. The same questions are always there: How is this going to go? Will anyone show up? Have we done everything we can do? Thoughts like these fill my mind and the minds of our team as we step out in faith to do these events.

Every time, God shows up and blows us away. This stop was no different. The venue filled almost to capacity and the vibe was full of energy and expectation. We began the night with a clear gospel message. O2 is structured this way – with a gospel message first – because a relationship with Him is the foundation for following His plan for our lives, including our sex lives. The Holy Spirit stirred the hearts of dozens who stood boldly to make commitments for Christ.

We then rolled into intermission full of music, local partner organizations and delicious local food vendors – including a ridiculously good mini donut truck. Then came time to talk sex and romance. According to the Missoula City-County Health Department, STDs are ever-increasing in the 15-24 age demographic and a little over 40% of Missoula high school students have had sex. At the end of the night, we saw more than half of those in attendance stand to make commitments to strength and honor.

We give people the opportunity to share their stories with us and it’s powerful to see how lives are impacted and changed by God’s plan for our sex lives. This story came in from a young man who attended our Missoula event:

“I never fully realized what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Tonight I gave my life to the Lord for the first time and I am so excited to start my walk with God. I have had some struggles with purity in my life. When I was 7 a friend came over and showed me some pornography and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. Tonight I made a commitment to stop and I am really glad I made that decision. I am so stoked on being able to start my purity and walk with Jesus and save myself for my future wife.”

Seeing stories like this spurs me, my wife and our team on. We’re grateful to see lives changed and God bless our efforts. Thank you to everyone who attended our Missoula event or watched online, we’re believing this will have an impact for generations.

Here’s the lookbook for our Missoula stop:

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O2 Billings

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This summer marked the first O2 Experience Montana tour since we began the event in 2004. We’ve held an O2 event in Kalispell before, but never an actual tour through the Treasure State. That all changed this June. We traveled over 900 miles across our massive home state to take the message of life, death, sex and romance on the road to Billings, Missoula and Kalispell.

We kicked off the tour in downtown Billings at the historic Babcock Theatre. Billings is Montana’s largest city with a population of over 100,000 people, and is a center for retail, hotels, conferences and events in the state. It’s nicknamed the “Magic City,” due to its rapid growth from a small railroad town in the late 1800’s to a booming hub for trade and distribution.

Our team, traveling with two trucks hauling 24’ and 32’ trailers, and two vans carrying tour team members, began load in to the venue the day before the event. The Babcock is a vibey old theatre built in 1907. The outside features a killer old school sign and marquee, and the inside of the 750-seat theatre has just as much character.

I had the opportunity to talk about O2 Billings on both TV and radio interviews while we were in town. It’s incredible to see the platforms that open up to help spread the vision and heart behind this event. According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services 46% of teens in the state are sexually active, with 65.9% of male and 62.5% of female high school seniors having had sex. In Yellowstone County alone there have been more than 34,000 births to teen mothers, ages 15-19, over the last few years. There is a need not only across the U.S. for this message about the power connected to purity, but right here in our home state.

The day of the event we encountered a crazy storm – with flooding across the city shutting down some major roads, leaving our team scrambling to bring outdoor booths inside the venue at the last minute. Despite the intense rain and floods, we saw a few hundred people attend, with many giving their lives to Christ and a majority of attendees making a commitment to strength and honor.

It was a killer kick-off to our Montana tour, here’s a lookbook for the event:

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O2 Montana

 

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I’m excited to announce our summer O2 Experience tour will be in the great state of Montana! We will be hitting Billings, Missoula and returning to Kalispell for the first time since 2011 with a fresh look at life, death, sex and romance this June. If you have a unique sphere of influence in your community and want to help promote these events email partner@o2experience.com for details. If you’re a church or organization and want to get involved, check out o2experience.com for details and be sure to visit the promo pages for each location to download artwork, a promo video, social media images and more to help spread the word!


San Diego // O2 Experience

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Getting to do an O2 event in San Diego was a dream come true. In all the speaking I have done in California, up until this event I have never done anything in SD. Pastor Ray Bentley and Maranatha Chapel were gracious to host the O2 and their staff went all out, not only as hosts, but also in promoting the event. Our team really enjoyed working with the staff at this amazing church.

The final stop on any tour tends to be extra special and San Diego did not disappoint. Seeing a full house in a city where we haven’t really been on the radar before was thrilling, but even more insanely great was watching so many people give their lives to Jesus. The atmosphere in the room was so full of energy and faith and it was great fun preaching to such hungry hearts. I can’t wait to come back to this great city!

We give anyone who wants a chance to share their story in a video box if they have been impacted through the event. Here is one of those stories from this event:

“The O2 Experience inspired me to stay pure and it’s just completely overwhelming to me that I get a second chance. I was raised by non-believers and taught that it was okay to have sex whenever I wanted before I get married. And today I can stand and say, ‘Ya know what? I will stay pure.’ Never in my entire life did I ever think that I’d say I would accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior or that I’d stand for purity.”

Here is the O2 San Diego look book:

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Orange County // O2 Experience

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As we continued to make our way down the California coast we came to Orange County. By this point we were four dates into the tour and were beginning to feel some of the miles. My voice was beginning to feel the toll of so much use and a few people on our team had come down with something. This is almost a guaranteed part of any Skull Church or O2 Experience tour. On our Florida tour last year I lost my voice completely and almost the entire band came down with a cold that made singing each night brutal. Such is life.

The Orange County date was hosted at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. This was a special place for us to get to do ministry as it is the mothership that lead to the 1,500-plus Calvary Chapel churches that have been planted all over the world since. It was here that Pastor Chuck Smith faithfully and simply taught God’s Word for so many years before he went home to Heaven in the fall of 2013. Pastor Brian Brodersen and his wife Cheryl are now leading the charge at this great church. Pastor Brian and I have become friends over the last few years and I respect him greatly.

Outside of Montana there is nowhere I have done more ministry over the years than in Orange County, so it’s always a blast to be back in town. Jennie and I were living here when we sensed God leading us to move to Montana and plant Fresh Life. The ironic thing is that God has opened up even more doors for ministry in Orange County since we left than we had when we lived there. It seems He has a sense of humor. The event was packed and we had to open up an overflow, but managed to get everyone into the facility. It was such a special night. There was a huge response to the invitation and we were able to meet some very cool people who came out.

Here is the Orange County O2 Experience look book.

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Menifee // O2 Experience

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The third stop on our tour of California was Menifee. Menifee is in a part of Southern California known as the Inland Empire (IE) that is growing like crazy. Thirteen years ago I went to Bible College in Temecula, a city that is also a part of the IE. Every time I return I am blown away by how much it has grown and all the new housing developments as urban sprawl continues to create more suburbs – that themselves become giant cities with suburbs of their own.

I have done a lot of preaching in Riverside County, the county which Menifee is in, and I have a lot of love for the people that live there. The event was hosted by Revival Christian Fellowship, a church lead by my good friend Pastor John Miller and his wife Kristy. When I was in Bible College Pastor John taught my Galatians/Ephesians class and we have been friends ever since. He has been an amazing encouragement and support all throughout my ministry. Several years ago he asked us if we would bring the O2 Experience to Revival and we were so stoked to finally come.

Let me say that this was by far the most insane event of the tour. With great church support and the fact that I have done a lot of ministry in the area we expected a good turnout, but it was far beyond what we were expecting. The sanctuary filled to capacity and they began opening up overflow rooms with video feeds, after opening up eight of these rooms people were still coming. They weren’t able to get everyone in and sadly some were turned away, but they made a valiant effort. It was an incredibly energetic night and we saw many come to know Jesus. To make it even more special that day was Clover’s third birthday so at the very end of the night she came out and we had everyone sing happy birthday to her. So. Much. Fun.

Here is the O2 Experience Menifee look book:

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Los Angeles // O2 Experience

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This is the second installment in a series of posts about our winter O2 Experience tour. In this post I will be looking back at our Los Angeles event. This was the most intimidating city to take on. LA is no joke. It is a beast of a city. The greater Los Angeles area is so spread out that it’s really difficult to get your arms or mind around. Where New York City was built up in a condensed area, LA was built out. It just goes and goes and goes.

It’s obviously a well known place. Internationally it is iconic and rightly viewed as quintessentially American. No matter where you go in the world, whether it’s Bangkok or Bucharest, people seem to gravitate towards LA when they talk about the United States. It is a center of culture, arts, fashion and entertainment. Someone once said, “as goes New York so goes the nation,” and that’s definitely true, but in many ways LA is just as influential, especially when it comes to sex. Not only is it home to Hollywood but the porn industry is headquartered in the San Fernando Valley as well.

We had the event in the West Side of the city in La Cienega at Core Church LA, a church lead by my friend Pastor Steve Wilburn. They have an amazing location just north of the 10 freeway in the part of town where all the movie studios are. Their building is just a quarter mile south of Beverly Hills and is visible from the 405 freeway. Primo. The cool thing is that when this church was being planted Fresh Life was able to contribute financially. We believed in what they were doing and sowed a seed early in the launch phase. To see the harvest that is coming out of soil we invested in was super special, but to see them return the investment by hosting our event and making a financial contribution to the O2 Experience above and beyond that was just beautiful, Biblical and full circle.

Their brand new building, which they had just recently moved into is beautiful. They have this gorgeous marquee that says, “Jesus Saves” boldly in neon and can be seen from all directions. On the Sunday night of the event there was a line going down the block and stretching around the corner. I have hosted a couple Harvest Crusades at Dodger Stadium and I spoke once at a church in Downey, but as with Santa Barbara I have never preached in the heart of Los Angeles so I wasn’t quite sure what we would see turnout wise. I was blessed and as surprised as anyone to see a standing room only crowd that filled up the venue and an overflow.

They didn’t just show up either, they were an energetic crowd and super fun to spend the evening with. Best of all we saw God do amazing things in many people’s hearts and lives. Watching many stand up and give their hearts to Jesus and knowing that there was joy in the presence of the angels over what was happening in the city of angels gave me chills. Hooray for LA!

Here is the O2 Los Angeles look book:

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Santa Barbara // O2 Experience

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Now that we are back home and the dust has settled I am going to post a series of blogs about the O2 Experience tour of Southern California we just returned from with some reflections from the journey as well as some amazing pictures from each city. Though we have been doing O2 Experience events for 11 years now it is more exhilarating to me than ever. Far from going out, the fire in my heart is burning brightly to bring this fresh perspective on life, death, sex and romance to this generation living on the earth today. Maybe it’s having my oldest daughter creeping closer to her junior high years, or maybe it’s the ever increasing joy I find in my marriage with Jennie as our love deepens like a fine wine over time — but I am absolutely energized by this ministry the Lord has called us to.

This tour kicked off in Santa Barbara, just a few hours north from Los Angeles, and what a beautiful drive! We took the scenic route going up the 1 through Malibu to get to the 101 and enjoyed every minute of it. I had come in to the tour from a preaching trip in England and was working on getting my body-clock off London-town time (with a little help from my friend Ambien) and so my mind was a little cloudy, but the beautiful drive along the coast with the windows down helped wake me up. I have heard people talk up Santa Barbara’s beauty forever but had never been there before and I instantly fell in love. It kind of felt to me like a happy cross between Orange County and Monterey. I also had some of the best salmon tacos I have ever had in my life at a killer mexican restaurant called Los Agaves. Then I saw Rob Lowe (dashing my dreams he didn’t walk up and say, “Hi, I’m Rob Lowe.”)

The church that hosted the event was Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara. Pastor David Guzik and his wife Ingalill, who lead there, have become good friends of Jennie and I and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. Their church along with the others in the area did a fantastic job promoting the event. I was probably the most nervous about this spot on the tour because I have never preached in the city. Besides my Air 1 “60 Seconds of Hope” messages, I’m not on the radio and we don’t have a substantial podcast listener base there either. It could have been a bust. It’s always a step of faith coming to a new city for the first time and this was definitely uncertain going into it.

Getting back into the O2 Experience rhythm takes work, for our tour team the first is generally the most difficult and time consuming getting loaded in and out and for me getting my mind and heart back into the zone of this intense headspace. The event was awesome. By the time the night started the sanctuary was packed to capacity. There was a huge response to the gospel and you could sense God doing deep work in people’s hearts as we talked about sex, dating, romance and marriage. We have been intentional about bringing the demographic up so we can reach more people in their late 20’s without losing the opportunity to reach students and we saw that reflected in this event very well. Loved this time in Santa Barbara and can’t wait to return, and until then those salmon tacos will be in my dreams.

Here is the Santa Barbara O2 Experience lookbook:

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Southern California O2 Tour

Our tour starts next week in Santa Barbara and ends in San Diego! Visit O2experience.com for more info. If you can’t make it the events will be streamed live online. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do! blog_allcities