empowered by the spirit for mission

What If Greenbelt And Spring Harvest Merged?

What would it be like if these two major Christian events merged? Spring Harvest tends to attract the evangelical charismatic types whereas Greenbelt emphasises missional living, social justice and a less in your face approach to Christianity. So this got me thinking that result of the merger might be rather CharisMissional.

Greenbeltdid once explore a partnership with Spring Harvest developing a Youth event called Freestate during its financial difficulties in 1999. However was abandoned andGreenbeltmoved to its new site at Cheltenham Racecourse from which it has moved from strength to strength.

How Do Greenbelt And Spring Harvest Differ?

Greenbelt is one of the major Christian Festivals here in the UK. Over the August Bank holiday weekend they have bands, speakers and lots of other activities in the grounds of Cheltenham Racecourse. It’s more of a music or arts festival than a Christian conference as such.

Spring Harvest, on the other hand, is one of our major Christian conferences. It is more focused on teaching and preaching with speakers and times of worship with some big names leading the meetings. It runs in Butlins over the Easter holidays.

I think a big challenge would be that Greenbelt’s faith base is wider than Spring Harvest’s. Although Spring Harvest have appeared over the last few years to embrace more of the social justice element and generally don’t appear as conservative as they have done in the past. They are still really evangelical in their stance and I think they might struggle with Greenbelt’s inclusiveness.

I suspect if this idea were to work some compromises would be necessary. SoGreenbeltmight have to lose some of the more liberal elements and not mind being overwhelmed by the evangelical charismatic element. In return Spring Harvest might have to tolerate some acts and speakers that it would otherwise not have invited. This can present some challenges to evangelical types but the wider perspective can be stimulating and if not overdone might not really be a problem especially to the more discerning.

What Might The Merger Look Like?

The new merged event could be called ‘Green Harvest’ or even better still ‘Springbelt’! I would suggest two half weeks or five days with each one having three full days and the first day starting in the evening and the final day ending in the afternoon. It would be great to do it on a Butlins site with all the facilities including chalets but also have room for extra camping so that each even could cater for about 10,000! They could run over the Spring Bank half term or the first week of the school summer holidays. But one big challenge would be to secure extra space around Butlins. It would be a shame to lose the Butlins facilities but if this wasn’t possible it might mean looking for another venue such as a really big caravan park with plenty of space around it or use a showground.

As a Springbelt week would be bigger than Spring Harvest all the normal Spring Harvest sessions could run but in addition the extra space around Butlins we could bring Greenbelt’s Main Stage and Performance Café in. Having teaching and worship session happening at the same time as the music is something that is already done at festivals such as Creation Fest. What such a merger would bring would be greater choice for Spring Harvesters but less choice for Greenbelters. This might not necessarily be a bad thing for Greenbelters as I’ve often found the choice in Greenbelt’s programme a bit too much.

One week Springbelt could have the Tiny Tea Tent and another week the Chai Chapel and some of the Greenbelt caterers to help Butlins cope with all the extra food needed. One of the stages in Butlins could also be used for Underground – the dedicated hard rock venue and if needed more tents could be erected for other teaching venues for whoever needs it.

We could still have the children’s sessions but if they had less and/or made them more optional and more all age activities and worship then they would be freer to explore the site.

It would be great to see Spring Harvest’s PRAYERhouse and GODSpace merged with Greenbelt’s alternative worship venues providing time for prayer and led worship services over most of the days.

Just some wild speculation. What do you think?

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July 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comments (2)

Molten Mediation at Greenbelt 2011

Molten Meditation was a great way to start Saturday morning at Greenbelt this year. If you want to chill out and seek God at the same time then some of these Molten Meditation tracks are for you. I can imagine these being wonderful ways to de-stress after a busy day or to prepare yourself in a morning.

The London based Molten Meditation team of Robin Vincent and Hannah Claire-Cameron have produced some beautiful computer generated sounds mixed with readings of scriptures.

It was great to start the day listening to some of these tracks with Robin and Hannah doing the voiceovers with some psychedelic visuals playing. After only one or two quick relaxation tips I was away – at some parts only vaguely aware of my surroundings. I’m sure that these tracks would work well in corporate setting as well as at home in your own devotions.

The music is carefully planned to rise and fall appropriately. They got the timing just right giving time to reflect on the verses but not dragging. I did find Hannah’s voice more soothing than Robin’s. Perhaps she was a little more restrained.

I have come across recordings in the genre in stress management and also in Christian settings where this process is sometimes referred to as soaking particularly among charismatic Christians. These can be a valuable way to experience the Holy Spirit. Of course this style of worship also links in strongly to more contemplative traditions. Recordings in this genre can include a number of different approaches to such mediations including muscle relaxation, guided imagery or prayers. Molten Meditations approach is to read passages of scriptures to reflect on.

It really enjoyed it!

Related post: When I spoke in tongues at Greenbelt

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September 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

10 Highlights of my Greenbelt This Year

Greenbelt Festival isn’t just about music. There are lots and lots of other things, some of which are hard to pigeon hole. They may involve music or other types of performances but they also might include an interview or they may be talks illustrated with slides or they could be discussions or conversations over coffee or beer. This list could go on!

I am very rarely at the main-stage as there is so much other stuff. This year I only popped over there to see the circus performance on Saturday lunchtime. Early on Sunday morning I worshipped with the Anglican Franciscans and was in the Tiny Tea Tent during the main-stage communion. But I didn’t feel that I missed out at all as during the weekend I got to break bread twice in other sessions.

There are plenty of things happening including lots of worship. Even though I spent some time with my little girl this year as there wasn’t any dedicated kids work where you could hand her over to be looked after I still managed to get to a lot of events. Here are ten of my highlights of Greenbelt this year.

1. Declaration of Doubt

Rollins and Anderson on was half an hour in the Big Top. It included songs by Anderson interspersed with some of words of wisdom from Pete Rollins. The thrust was to be honest with God about our doubts in our prayers, discussions and contributions in our church communities. Rollins pointed out that the Psalms is much more lament than praise and encouraged us to work towards this balance.

2. Molten Meditation

This an early morning session of spoken words of scripture over beautiful ambient backgrounds that enabled us to soak in the Spirit. Some closed their eyes or gazed over the panoramic view of the site from the fifth floor window but there were some psychedelic patterns on the screen for those that found it helpful. I found Molten Meditation very spiritually refreshing.

3. Visions

Visions service was quite up-tempo and even included some mime and a children’s action song. The Worship Co-operative was packed so the prayer station in a bag worked well drawing out the appropriate item to think, pray or meditate on. Veteran alternative worshippers Visions have been working at including children more so it was no surprise that this was well paced and kept the attention of even the little ones.

4. Boundaries of Church

This was a discussion by Venture FX about pioneering in different situations such as working with the homeless or starting a homegroup on an estate. They didn’t see what they were planting as carbon copies of parent churches but were very open to how people wanted the groups to develop. They were interested in what people thought is non- negotiable and what is up for grabs.

5. The Big Society Debate

The Kitchen is the place for debate and discussions and is sponsored by the Church Urban Fund. Though there is a tendency to by cynical and see this as a cover for cuts there is an opportunity for the church to get involved serving the community. My wife also went to a session on social enterprise at the Kitchen but what was really good was making a contact with the Church Urban Fund about WorkShop our own project.

6. Cave Refectory Road

Not a monk himself Ian Adams sees his reflections and poems about monastic life as just ‘scrumping apples in the monastery garden’. Early monks spent time alone in caves but later developed communities eating together in refectories before they went on the road. These three phases represent three important aspects of spiritual life – our time alone with God, our relationships in our faith community and our missional serving.

7. The Homelessness Debate

Should we give money to an individual begging on the streets? In this debate in the Church Urban Fund’s Kitchen venue there were many more in the crowd on the no side than the yes side and quite a few undecided. As 80 or 90 percent of money given to people on the streets goes on alcohol and drugs does giving money undermine the work of rehabilitation units or is it fine to buy a drink for someone in this situation? What do we make of Proverbs 31:6-7?

8. Beat Eucharist

Rough Edge just blew me away. Their beat eucharist is re-written liturgy and I think some original poetry read very quickly and loudly with a dance beat in the background. At one point a few people read different poetry/liturgy at once to great effect. The whole thing was almost rapped. When we reached the climax it all fell silent and the bread and wine was quickly distributed. Brilliant!

9. Reading the Second Book of God

Romans 1 tells us that creation speaks of God but in our urbanised world we have lost the art of seeing God in nature. Many people do feel closer to God when they go for a walk in the countryside or climb hills or mountains. Bruce Stanley exhorted us to look for God and practically got us reflecting on what aspects of God’s character various slides of nature made us think about.

10. The Game of Life

This installation from mayBe was in the form of a gigantic board game (see photo). You stand in the first space and flip a coin. Heads you move right, tails left. It took you through a number of different episodes until you reached the end to find out which of the many ways you die! It was quite light-hearted but with some interesting developments. I felt it was a bit too cynical of Christianity but still it was very compelling.

These are just my highlights. What were yours?

September 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

When I spoke In Tongues at Greenbelt

At a small session called the Charismatic Contemplative Experiment run by Molten Meditation I went to front and spoke in tongues and interpreted what I said. Now Greenbelt is not known as a gathering of charismatic Christians. But I am a charismatic who sometimes does go to Greenbelt. So when I saw this in the program I was intrigued.

Molten Meditation is Robin Vincent who creates some wonderful ambient tracks and records spoken words of scripture over them. In this session he encouraged us relax while the music played and he spoke. Robin also encouraged us to make contributions such as prophecies or tongues. I felt that there was something from God that I could contribute so I prayed in tongues and interpreted, as I am used to doing in my own church meetings.

This was back in 2008. I did do Robin’s session this year too. And just when looking through Molten Meditation’s website I found Robin’s account of the incident. This is how he described me:

…one guy did come up – he had a bit of a crazy man shuffle to him that made me think “oh crikey – what’s going to happen now” and in my lack of faith i hadn’t put out a microphone or anything. Nonetheless he leaned into my mic and spoke in tongues really softly and beautifully, and then interpreted himself saying about peace and how God’s peace is such food for the soul – even through my nervousness it was very lovely. Unfortunately no one else could hear him.

Yes I was the only one. I had assumed I would be the first of a few contributors but after that, to my embarrassment, everyone remained seated. It was me. Just thought I’d own up Robin!

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September 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)