Monday, 1 September 2008

Choosing a Christian festival...

Sometime next year I am considering going to a Christian Festival or camp with Esther.

This will be a bit of a holiday and a bit of a time for reflection and being encouraged in our faith.

I enjoy going to the newfrontiers Brighton Conference, and will almost certainly go next year. Esther and I have been together before, and this year I went on my own (with a group from Church) because Esther did not have the leave from work left.

We want to try and do something a bit different, and so I have been researching the options.

Personally speaking, my aim is fairly simple, I want to go and see something new, something outside of the newfrontiers bubble, where different people speak about different issues and bring a different emphasis. I want to enlarge my vision and meet some new people.

So looking through the options and we could go for a "summer camp" option, or one of the "Easter breaks".

Here is my tongue in cheek musings about where I am at with my search.

Grapevine 2009
ticks many of the boxes I am looking for. A large, established christian event, and a different church movement, different speakers and yet many things that would feel very comfortable. £72 seems a bargain too. Godfrey Birtill leading worship is definitely a plus point.

Detling 2009 seems quite interesting, and RT Kendall and Jackie Pullinger on the speaker rostrum for this year sounds very good. John Paul Jackson is an unknown to me. Only the "late booking" prices for last year are online and £129 seems a bit top heavy for camping but I am sure the early bird prices will be cheaper. Eric Delve spoke at the newfrontiers Evangelists Summit this year and was excellent, very very honest and up front. If he is involved I am definitely interested.

Faith Camp is in the Kingdom Faith summer camp, with Colin Urqhart et al. I can't say I have heard of many of the speakers, but that probably says more about me than it does them. What I do know is that friends who go every year think it is absolutely wonderful, and as said friends are a wonderfully mature couple who I aspire to be like, I take that as quite a commendation.

New Wine is very established and our grandparents on one side regularly go. It used to be "Soul Survivor for grown ups" and I know a few of the people involved. Now they have got so big they are going geographic with northern and southern weeks. New Wine at one point was a bastion of the "Vinglican" movement - charismatic Anglicans and vineyard speakers/worship leaders were the mainstay. I assume David and Mary Pytches daughter Debbie (now Wright) being a pastor at Trent Vineyard is one of the connections. I would love to go some time.

Greenbelt is shorter, and having been a couple of times around the turn of the millennium I have certainly enjoyed it in the past. The music line up is always strong, lots of new bands etc, and that is where the bulk of the £77 fee must go towards. Greenbelt has always had a strong social activism edge, and is not afraid to challenge the norms. This has led to one or two issues in the past, with groups like the Nine O'Clock Service being given a profile. I went to one worship time led by "Holy disorder" and I will just say it was one of the strangest things I have ever experienced. This year the fact they had invited a married lesbian christian to do talks would have been enough to give some friends of mine a nosebleed, but that is the strength of Greenbelt - it is an open ended array of speakers from across a spectrum of the body of Christ, and this year big hitters like Joel Edwards, Philip Yancey and Brian McLaren are worth going for.

Spring Harvest is the major player in the "Easter Breaks" category, and I would suggest it is where i made the greatest step forward in "coming to faith" at Spring Harvest when it was at Pwllheli in the early nineties. I have also been to one at Minehead. I like Spring Harvest because on the whole it has been a centrist, positive expression of the UK charismatic evangelical scene. I am tempted, and the half board for £190 option is not bad for a week.

New Word Alive raises all sorts of questions for me. Terry Virgo is speaking and Stuart Townend leading worship, so there are some home comforts! Yet for me it would be a bit like returning to the scene of a crime. It would mean me facing issues left untouched for several years, when, as a student I had a sometimes unhappy existence, for being a charismatic, by the kind of people who wore beige Farah Trousers, brown leather moccasin shoes, and went to "Word Alive"!

I am told that "things have changed" and that there is much more understanding these days, and I really would like to test the water. It appears from a distance that the influence of reformed charismatic scholars like Grudem has had huge influence in making charismatic theology a bit more respected. It seems like the worship of people like Stuart Townend, and the teaching of people like Terry Virgo has done similar. It also seems that when the atonement debate blew up a couple of years back many people realised that we were willing to die next to each other in the trenches defending substitutionary atonement, and maybe we weren't that different after all.

It looks like that option is just over £200 a week half board, which is by no means cheap, but if it is likely to be over £100 a head for camping without food, then I may consider making a real holiday of it. There is also the irony that it means going back to Pwllheli, which is far closer than either Spring Harvest venue, and the place where I really first understood deep in my heart that I wanted to give my life to Christ...

Anyone got any other ideas?


dave bish said...

New Word Alive needs guys like you to come and give it a go. That's a hard and bold step.

Phil said...

What about Greenbelt?

Ash said...

Dave, Detling is amazing. Or at least the 4 times I went it was, haven't been for a few years now. The church I go to back in Essex go most years and it's just an amazing time with new people and with God. I would really recommend it! Ash

DaveW said...

I would agree with Phil, consider Greenbelt