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Student-focused minister to join 2018 Winter Jam

By Sarah Whitman, Times Columnist

Nick Hall travels the world preaching "Jesus."

But he avoids the word "evangelical." Labels can turn people off to the Gospel, he says.

Hall, 35, founded the student-focused ministry Pulse as a junior at North Dakota State University. What started as a campus movement in 2004, quickly grew to reach students across state lines. Today, Pulse is one of the largest ministries of its kind worldwide. Hallís book Reset: Jesus Changes Everything calls youth to put God first and share the word.

Hall appears on the 2018 Winter Jam tour, which hits Tampa Jan. 13. The tour, headlined by Skillet, features Christian music acts KB, Kari Jobe, Building 429 and Newsong. Tickets are $15 at the door. Doors open at 5 p.m. at the Amalie Arena.

I talked to Hall about touring, family life and living for Jesus in the United States today.

Q: How did you land on Winter Jam? What message do you bring to the tour?

A: I was on the tour three years in a row about three years ago. So now Iím coming back. Iím excited to be a part of it again. My message is about taking a step closer to Jesus. Whether youíve never had a relationship with Jesus or youíve been a believer for a long time, itís about taking that next step, about growth. Every step closer to Jesus is a step closer to people who need Jesus.

Q: Do you speak about the division happening in the United States?

A: I led a youth movement team that was part of rallying a group together to gather at the National Mall in July 2016. Hundreds of thousands gathered. It was about bringing people of different backgrounds together to present a love for Jesus, friendship and a shared sense of community.

I think we need to love our neighbor despite our differences. To pray for our enemies. To pray for each other. If youíre not doing that, you are part of the problem. Jesus changes everything, our hearts and our minds. Jesus welcomes us one and all.

Q: The word "evangelical" does stir a controversy these days. What is good and bad about being an evangelical today?

A: The word is so divisive. It creates distance between people. Even the word "Christian" can tend to have baggage attached to it. I think words used to describe people are only useful when they point to a true definition. "Evangelical" is supposed to mean this person believes in the Bible and believes in Jesus, but it has become so loaded politically. I want to help people find a relationship with an everlasting God, with Jesus.

If those words donít help achieve that, then I am not that. This younger generation isnít as interested in labels or even institutions. But they are interested in Jesus.

Q: Why did you choose to focus your ministry on students?

A: Well, my ministry started as my English paper as a student. I wrote about reaching students for Jesus. And then we started with trying to reach our friends. And we had an impact. We said, hey we are going to try and walk this out. I wanted to be part of something that makes a difference. Young people are so hungry. They are open and looking for things to make a difference. I really do believe these kids now are our future.

Q: Winter Jam is a music tour. Any particular artists inspire you?

A: KB is cutting edge. He is really a prophetic voice in our day. He is somebody on the front lines trying to flesh this out, what it means to follow Jesus in a world of need. Skillet, they play in clubs and non-religious settings. They are actively out trying to build relationships with people. Kari Jobe is one of the best worship artists there is today. When she sings, you encounter God. Itís really a great tour.

For more information on Nick Hall visit pulsemovement.com.

For information on Winter Jam 2018, visit florida.thejoyfm.com/events/box-office/winter-jam-2018/.