Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Harvest 2009

Better late than never, a few reflections on Spring Harvest Week 3 in Minehead.

  • Good opening night - often these are a bit low key, as the SH team try to allow for people to settle in and get their heads round things, but instead we had an upbeat evening, great talk from Jeff Lucas, and a slightly complex questionnaire to help people work out their learning styles. I came out as a 'Theorist' (alternatives were Reflector, Activist and Pragmatist. Reflectors wanted to change the questions, pragmatists wanted to know why they were filling in a questionnaire, Activists wanted to get on with the rest of the evening and not do the questionnaire at all).
  • Lots of challenging teaching around the theme of Discipleship, including plenty on how we help people to grow as disciples in a local church context, and on discipleship as a whole-life thing, rather than something measured in 'churchy' terms. SH has got more 'catholic' in where it draws teaching and wisdom from, and it was good to see the idea of a Rule of Life being taken seriously.
  • Good childrens programme - our two enjoyed themselves and got stuck into their groups
  • Excellent band for the Big Top, led by Vicky Beeching (who I discovered on Spotify on returning from SH, which was nice). Just as energetic at 9am as 9pm, in what must have been an exhausting week for them.
  • Minehead beach, which has been covered in sand since I last saw it, and is great.
  • More interesting seminars than I could fit in, which is unusual - in recent years the programme has looked all too familiar, with very little which hasn't already been done a couple of times before. It was nice to have lots to chew on.
  • Good seminars by Alastair Burt MP and a guy from LICC, on discipleship and modern culture.
  • The bookstall. I just love all that browsing.
  • Cbeebies on the chalet TV's for when the children needed some downtime.
  • Excellent study notes, as always, with plenty to chew on and challenge
  • Just the whole experience of being there.

Lows (relatively speaking)

  • One or two speakers trying to copy the 'anecdote' style, rather than being authentically themselves. I tuned out of one talk and ended up spending 20 minutes thinking about Peters confession of Christ in Mark 8, which actually turned out to be quite fruitful.
  • Too much marketing of stuff through events which were supposed to be for worship. Put me in mind of Pete Wards critique of 'selling worship'. One event was particularly blatant, and felt very uncomfortable.
  • A lack of seriousness - yes SH should be fun, but if we're supposed to be meeting with God then I'm not sure that stories about the bodily functions of seagulls really help us with that, though perhaps it really spoke to someone. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood that evening.
  • Powerpoint training - some speakers had clearly got the hang of what powerpoint/visuals are for, others hadn't, cramming the screen with as much text as possible, and skipping to the next slide before you had time to digest it.
  • Finnegans fish and chips. Awful. Skegness-goers, it may be perishing cold by the North Sea, but at least you've got Harry Ramsdens.
  • Lack of a decent international speaker. It may be false memory syndrome, but SH used to regularly bring in well known speakers from outside the UK. Having been inspired by Tony Campolo and Don Carson at SH in the past, it would be great to hear Brian MacLaren, Tim Keller, Alan Hirsch, Tom Sine, Bill Hybels, Jackie Pullinger, (insert your own favourite) etc. Or maybe I'm just spoilt. (or, see below, maybe I went to the wrong week!!)

Will post some quotes from the speakers in a few days, if I can decipher my notes.

Not a mention, by the way, of New Word Alive, which parted company with Spring Harvest a couple of years ago. Adrian Warnock has a detailed blog from the event, which gives a flavour of what it was like. I hope the two festivals don't retreat to separate sides of a wall, writing messages in Chalke but no longer communicating.

There were also no major speakers from New Wine, another major evangelical network - possibly because they're all prepping for their leaders conference in a fortnight. It's worryingly easy to pigeon-hole a lot of well-known church leaders into the conference you'd expect to hear them speak at, which isn't healthy. We need to listen to people we aren't necessarily going to agree with.

Other Spring Harvest bloggers
Tom Bullock who was there as an 8-11s leader
Dan Kingsley
David Derbyshire
Sean Stillman
Nigel Wright - reading his blog it sounds like we did get Brian Maclaren, just not when I was there!
Forbidden Fruits Frustrated Writings, going back after a 20 year gap.
Help i work with children who helped lead the 5-7's work at Skeggy

and probably loads more....


  1. David - good reflections, thank you. Hoping to get some of my SH drawings scanned properly today.

  2. Krish Kandiah spoke at both SH and NWA. Some small crossover.

  3. Krish mentioned that there was not enough mention of international mission at NWA. From your report, the same seems to have been the case at SH.

    Just a thought; your list of 'International' speakers who were not at SH was very much tied to the Anglo-Saxon world (as the French call it). Wouldn't International mean getting speakers from the Global South and East?

  4. Eddie - I was thinking as I wrote the list that my 'international' favourites are mostly US or Australia. You're right.

    There's normally a strong international mission stream - the chief exec of Stop the Traffik was a main evening speaker and is on the planning committee, and the main offering usually has an international dimension. I'd say normally SH does have quite a good focus on mission and the wider world, though it wasn't so obvious this year.

  5. By comparison, the New Wine leaders conference, which I'm going to in a couple of weeks, has a real mixture of international speakers. I'm just hoping the Global South speaker (Henry Orombi)would be there whether or not he was part of GAFCON: I want to hear about mission, not politics!