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Re-Enchanting Christianity by Dave Tomlinson »« Spring Harvest 2012: Church Actually

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
  • August 14, 2012 at 11:43 amMatt Wiltshire

    Having been to both I agree it’s an intriguing idea. However I think
    compromise might cause a less than the sum of its parts situation.

    What steps does one take to make an event “less liberal” for example?

  • August 14, 2012 at 12:05 pmDavid Derbyshire

    You could well be right. I think to do this they would need to focus on inviting those who were comfortable enough with both and whose faith fitted a certain criteria. Even if they could agree the criteria trying to do this might just upset too many people on both sides!

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