This post is part of the June 8 Synchroblog that carries the Pentecost theme: Faith, Feasts and Foreshadowing. There is a tradition of synchroblogs (or grid blogs) among Christian bloggers and you can read an old grid-blog post from 2005, as well as a Pentecostal poem I wrote called The Sound of Dust.
But for today, I want to add the other "F" word which is, of course, Festival - the place where all three words come together.
I have just returned from Dresden, Germany where I was speaking at a large protestant festival called Kirchentag [Church Day]. Over 100,000 people participated and there were times where it seemed the whole city had become a stage for the church's activities and stunts and spectacles. It seemed like a foreshadowing of what is to come and also an echo of festivals in Biblical times where faith, feasting and foreshadowing the Kingdom played significant roles.
I am a big fan of festivals. I probably attend about 3 or 4 every year. Some of them I sponsor from a distance. I think they represent a holistic and sustainable way of having the wider church meet together more affordably and more visibly than Christian conferences that usually take place in hotels or conference centers.
Heres some thoughts on that subject, dug out from previous blog posts and comments on this blog over the years.
"When Jesus was in a hurry to get down to Jerusalem for the festival, which speaker did he most want to hear? Which author did he hunt down to autograph a copy of their latest book? Or were the Biblical festivals - all of them, in fact - so far removed from our consumeristic expectations of festivals and conferences that we cant even imagine people walking days to be at a week long event to reenact the history of God's corporate goodness to his people without trying to pry out something for ourselves." TSK, Comments, (edited to make me sound more eloquent)
"One of the culprits [unsustainable Christian events in a recession], are these extravagant Christian conferences (PreacherFests) where participants are asked to pay an exorbitant admission price to go and hear their favorite speaker. Add to that a flight, meals, and a hotel room and there's not much change from A THOUSAND from which to buy the speaker's book to support this weird cottage industry. Thats a heckofalot! Its also out of reach for many young struggling missional entrepreneurs and it sets an unsustainable example for the rest of the world who try to mimic the West . . . As a rule, I like festivals more than conferences, as I said in a recent post called Festivals as a Way Forward, because they are much cheaper, leave a smaller carbon footprint and are not dependent on one or two Superstar Christian Celebrities who insist on fancy hotels and a hefty honorarium at the end - thus raising the price of admission and reducing accessibility to the people who really need to be there." TSK, Recession: The Carnival is Over
"I am NOT saying lets do the same thing we have been doing and pay speakers less. I am saying lets move away from celebrity based speaker-fests towards something that is relational, communal, sustainable, accessible and worthwhile. Using homes, kitchens, couches, campgrounds may sound terribly invasive to some who would rather pop into a Sheraton and go home again but a conference should and is an opportunity to experience church on a deep level. The recession might just open the door for this to happen." TSK, Comments
In the comments,