NORTH AMERICAN CHRISTIAN ARTS, MUSIC AND JUSTICEFESTIVAL:A NEW SPACE IN THE CHRISTIAN LANDSCAPE
A number of leaders engaged in faith and social justice and in fresh expressions of Christianity have over the past two decades attended, led innovative worshipservices and spoken at the Greenbelt Festival in the United Kingdom. Greenbelt is aprogressive Christian music, arts, faith and justice festival that draws 20,000 peopleannually to a highly participatory event, engaging faith in today’s culture.
From conversations that started at Greenbelt, a momentum began to build – callingfor a similar festival in North America. From one such dialogue, a small groupincluding Jim and Joy Wallis and Brian McLaren decided to explore the possibilities.They successfully applied for a grant from Trinity Wall Street to explore the feasibilityof a North American festival.
This report is a result of the Trinity grant to explore the feasibility of a Greenbelt-typefestival in North America where the religious landscape and multi-culturalenvironment is significantly different from that of Britain. A consultant was hired bySojourners, the grant recipient, to facilitate the study and write this report. Much of the work was done with a diverse design team as is detailed below
When we began the feasibility study, having heard stories of how other festivals hadlost money in the first years, we thought the most important thing to focus on was thehard numbers – how many porta-potties will we need, how much will insurance cost,how much will it take to reach our audience through magazines? We thought thesedetails alone would make or break the festival.
What we found is that virtually nothing exists to bring together young adults, whohappen to be Christian, in a way that’s fully engaged in today’s diverse, creativeculture. They yearn for connection with God and with each other. They want to learnhow to engage their faith and social justice work in practical ways. And, they want todeepen their spirituality and get to know others different from them.
Churches aren’t reaching them – only 15% go to church. (see note 3) Traditionalapproaches that
them turn them off. They dislike the inauthenticity of Christian music festivals that exist to entertain and sell music. They yearn for ways toconnect the faith their parents gave them with the needs of the hurting world. Theywant to be totally present with God in a space that, like today’s urban culture, isvibrant and creative.
Feasibility Study | Page 3