Dave Walker has already blogged extensively about his experience at Spring Harvest in Skegness, painting a rather mixed picture (!), other bloggers enjoyed it a bit more, like AndyG and the remarkable blog that is Simons Journal (straight into my bookmarks). Meanwhile Adrian Warnock has virtually a moment by moment account of 'New Word Alive', which went separate ways from Spring Harvest for this year, with various interviews with key speakers, MP3's etc.
We went to Minehead for the final week of Spring Harvest 2008, and I had a much better time than I'd expected to. Speaking personally, I have more and more of a struggle with modern worship songs, as I find I'd much prefer to listen to Evanescence and Coldplay than Matt Redman. They are just more my taste in music. So I've struggled a bit with the 'Big Top' worship at Spring Harvest, but as a worship leader Andy Flannagan was superb, creative in an understated way, and led things very well.
The speakers were more of a mixture: SH always has to tread the line between familiar, tried and tested speakers who consistently turn up with the goods (Jeff Lucas, Steve Chalke, Ian Coffey, Gerard Kelly), and bringing in new faces to keep a sense of progress and innovation. All credit to them for giving 2 emerging church pioneers the main speaking slot on 2 different nights - Philip Jinadu (evangelist in Bristol) and Danielle Strickland (Salvation Army church planter from Canada) were refreshing, clear and challenging. Their morning 'zone' was excellent too: I guess having heard more teaching than is good for me, what communicates more and more is real life stories of people putting into practice the stuff they are speaking about. I want to hear about people who pray and get answers, who plant churches and see growth, who uproot to move into needy neighbourhoods, who use their skills and vocations creatively to serve others.
Another good innovation was the open plan cafe in the central 'Skyline' area, which was used for Q&A sessions with the key speaker (Malcolm Duncan of Faithworks) after the morning Bible teaching. A real plus in the programme, giving the chance for real debate to take place, and geniune questions to be wrestled with.
Lots of big questions this year: the theme was 'One Hope', looking at how the bible sees the future, including the future of the planet. There was lots of wrestling with Tom Wrights work on resurrection and 'heaven' (or not) and how we should think about all of that. Lots of good input and resources on the environment and green issues.
Finally, my personal highlight (depite getting picked on one night) was Tim Vine and John Archers late show. Looks like they are now on a national tour, judging by TV's website. Vine holds the world record for most jokes told in an hour (499), and made the perfect end to the day. "So I went outside, and this cup fell from the sky and hit me on the head. Then another one hit the ground beside me. I went back inside and my wife asked 'hows the weather' I said 'Muggy'... Friends of the Earth rang me yesterday and told me to eat less pasta. Apparently we all need to reduce our Carbonara footprint...." and so on.
Going back for more next year, hopefully with a bigger group from our church. Oh yes, and the kids loved it, though they were completely pooped by the end of the week.