Of the 25,000+ people who went to Wiston House, West Sussex on 28th and 29th May, five campers here report on what they saw, heard and experienced.
I live in Stoke-on-Trent where I'm studying law. I came to Wiston House thinking how much we all love bank holiday weekends - that extra time off work, a chance to relax and enjoy life, or even that time to go on an adventure with the family like many families did on this sunny Sunday. Big Church Day Out was host to dazzling musicians, fabulous face painters, awesome children's workers and of course cool campers, all gathered in their thousands to worship and praise the Lord, as well as enjoy the company of those around them.
Throughout the day, a variety of activities were available. Some fearless individuals tried rock climbing, the fairground umbrella ride, as well as the Ferris wheel. Those who preferred to keep their feet on the ground could try the inflatable obstacle course, archery or even dress up in sumo suits! For the younger campers children's clubs were available, as well as circus acts and a farm to keep them entertained. But the epicentre of Big Church Day Out is, of course, the music.
There were several stages - the Main Stage, the Tearfund Tea Tent, Kingdom Come and even the CSW Airstream Stage and from each music roared, or tinkled, or throbbed in an intoxicating, enveloping blanket of sound. On Main Stage I caught Canada's Newworldson, America's Phil Wickham, and Britain's Matt Redman and the atmosphere during their performances was remarkable. It was exhilarating to see the crowd full of people who love Jesus delighting in worshipping him together. One song performed by Newworldson was a funky retro jazz creation and was truly empowering as the crowd lifted up their voices together. I and, I believe, many others felt in that moment united with our family through Christ.
Later on when Matt Redman arrived on stage the large crowd grew larger. People were dancing and singing, laughing and crying and just enjoying being in the presence of God and being overwhelmed by his Spirit. . . Amazing!
On the last day a camp fire was built and many people gathered round under the light of the stars, people joining together and lifting their voices up to the sky. At that moment a light breeze swept over us; it was as if God himself was joining in with our song. There is nothing in this world, nothing, more powerful than singing with our brothers and sisters in Christ to our loving Lord and selfless Saviour.
The BCDO experience has not only built me up in my faith and helped me feel closer with my wider church family, it has also helped me feel fulfilled in the fullness of Christ.
As a wrinkled gospel music journalist, I've been to hundreds of events and concerts down the years. But Big Church Day Out is like none other - it envelops the senses and lifts the spirit so that the news that next year there will be North and South versions of this God-breathed event has already left me planning visits to both. I have returned from Wiston House exhausted (for a six hour car journey each way is tiring even for a non-driver like myself), grimey (I can seldom face the shower queues), full of new songs and new info (LZ7's new album is HOT; Texas soul bluesman Mike Farris was alone worth the price of BCDO admission), replete (there's something intensely satisfying about breakfasting in a field on bacon and egg butties), empowered (it's a privilege to pray for old friends and new acquaintances) and determined (the revival BCDO imparts to us needs to be passed on to others).
Highlights? So many. There was Tim Hughes' "Here I Am To Worship" ringing crystal clear through the night air so that I found myself stopping during my torchless stumble to my friend's tent to do just that; praying with a young Salvationist on the Cross Rhythms stand in the Bazaar; playing football with some 10-year-olds for a few (very few) minutes; listening to the biting rock guitars and Bowie-like vocals of John Mark McMillan and his band; seeing friends from my church walking in the sunshine so unmistakably happy; being reduced to tears by the sheer power of a new Crowder song ("You came for the criminals and every Pharisee/You came for hypocrites even one like me/You carried sin and shame, the guilt of every man/The weight of all I've done just nailed into your hands"); and after a brief preach from Pete Greig in the middle of Matt Redman's set watching a young man responding to the staggering story of events on that Judean hill and seeing the first moments of the young man's new life. Thank God for Big Church Day Out.
I live in Staffordshire and I work in student ministry. The Big Church Day Out weekend was truly amazing! It was an enormous blessing to me and I'm sure the same can be said for the thousands of people who flocked to this most picturesque part of West Sussex.
I would describe the weekend as a taste of Heaven, as believers from all over the UK (and the world), all different in so many ways but united in Christ, came together as one, to celebrate all that is good and worship the true and living God with great music. I have come to appreciate the variety in all the artists, how they are all using music to give glory to God in so many different styles and genres. Both days consisted of a stellar line up on the Main Stage and the other stages around the site. There must have been something for everyone!
On Saturday I spent most of my time at the Main Stage catching some of Mike Farris' set, For King & Country, TobyMac and Jesus Culture. Each act was of course different and once again I was struck with joy as I witnessed talented musicians using their gifts for the glory of God.
On Sunday I was joined by my friend Kirsty and we spent time exploring the BCDO site. We got to see that there is much more to the BCDO than music alone. The weekend is a time for fun, family, friends, food and fellowship. Overall the BCDO has reminded me of God's goodness and the joy that it is to live for him.
I'm called Tony Harris and sometimes people call me a Special Needs Person. This is the third time I've come to the Big Church Day Out and I'll definitely be coming again next year. It's the best festival I've ever been to. My favourite band is Big Daddy Weave and I hope they come next year.
The best things about this year's Big Church Day out were TobyMac, Crowder and Matt Redman. It was a good atmosphere. The only think I don't like about Big Church Day Out is that there are no disabled showers.
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