Elevation Worship, Rend Collective, Hillsong Young & Free - it's another amazing lineup at Britain's annual BIG CHURCH DAY OUT. Chris Mountford spoke to Tim Jupp.
May 25th and 26th are the dates that many people have had in their diaries for months now. For then 25,000+ people will be making the journey to the palatial grounds of Wiston House, West Sussex for the amazing Big Church Day Out. I'll be taking my family there but had the opportunity before the grip to speak to BDCO's founder and organiser about this most extraordinary of events.
Chris: Tell us about Big Church Day Out 2019.
Tim: "This year it's going to be our 11th event. We can't quite believe how many years we've had already. With everything consolidated at our one sight in Sussex we're really expecting a huge crowd this year. We're going to have two days where all ages come together and have two great days of celebration."
Chris: What in particular are you looking forward to about this year's event?
Tim: "I think I always look forward to the stories afterwards. You can't put your finger on, or prescribe, what God's going to do. There's so many people there, and so many things happen, that you're never aware until the stories start trickling in afterwards. You think, 'This is exciting.' People bring their friends - non-Christians; there's stuff going on with families. So I do look forward to those stories of what God did in people's lives while they were at the event."
Chris: What's the idea of Big Church Day Out? Has it changed over the years?
Tim: "No, the narrative has always been just to create a space for the whole Church to come together. So Big Church Day Out isn't a movement or an organisation you can join. All we do is we create space for the one movement we really love, which is the Church. We create a space, and we say to everyone, 'What will this look like if we spend a couple of days together hanging out, feasting together, worshipping together, praying together, knowing that we're part of something bigger than just our own experience or expression of Church?'"
Chris: Is it a challenge to incorporate all those different expressions of Church and to represent everything?
Tim: "Yeah. We don't represent everyone in that sense. We just want to give the space for people to come and be together. What I love about the Church is that it's so diverse in its different expressions. Our role in that is to create a space that feels inclusive, and everyone feels welcomed whatever expression of Church they come from."
Chris: Who have you got at this year's event?
Tim: "We've got some great artists this year - some first-timers like Elevation Worship. It's the first time they've ever been in the UK, and we're excited they chose to come to the Big Church Day Out. We've got Hillsong Young & Free for the first time. We've got two amazing gospel artists, Sinach and Tye Tribbett. Pat Barrett is back with us; he's been with us once before. I think he's one of the biggest up-and-coming worship leaders in the world today. We've got Tauren Wells who's never been before; we've got We Are Messengers. Check out these people on YouTube. We've got some old favourites like Rend Collective, LZ7; John Mark McMillan's back with us, Andy Mineo's back with us. The list goes on and on - something like 50 bands and soloists all together."
Chris: And you provide a space for lesser-known independent bands and performers.
Tim: "Yeah, we've got the singer/songwriter stage, which we put in a few years ago. Loads of the requests we had from people to come and play were from singer/songwriters, and we didn't really have a space for them so we created a space just for them. There's loads of people on that stage. We've got Steph Macleod, Bianca Rose, Atlas Rhodes, Tom McConnell, Daughters Of Davis."
Chris: Why did you decide to end the Big Church Day Out North event and concentrate on the single site in West Sussex?
Tim: "We put in a huge amount of work over several years of touring, building relationships in the north, and really have always wanting to do a second event in that part of the world. But having done two years, we just couldn't make it work. Even our event in the south is massively donor-funded, so you can imagine if that's the case in the south, with almost twice the crowd, we just didn't hit enough numbers in the north. It left too much need of funding. I think, really, we had to protect the whole of Big Church Day Out. Had we carried on a third year it probably would've meant the end of the whole thing. Sadly and regrettably we had to press pause on the North event, and put our focus back on the south. We've seen people come from all over the country. We've got people who come from Scotland, from mainland Europe. So I just say, 'Don't let it stop you coming that there's only one event. It's still worth a trip.' And for those people in the north who only ever came to that one: 'Come and experience the southern event with twice the size of crowd. It's really something spectacular.' So I encourage everyone to come down."
Chris: What have you learnt about God in the 11 years of organising Big Church Day Out?
Tim: "You have to learn to really give it all back to God. With something like Big Church Day Out - particularly at this time, a week to go, 10 days to go - there's so much that could go wrong you could worry about. You just have to know that God's got your back. Time and time again I'm amazed at seeing how God goes before us and prepares a way. I think I've learnt over this time that the best any of us can do is to be obedient to what he's called us to do and just do the best we can with what he puts in our hands. Every year we say to God, 'We'll do the best we can with what you've given us, and give it to you,' and see what God does. Even with Big Church Day Out, at the end of the day it is only an event, and events don't last forever. I think we've got many, many years left with the Big Church Day Out, but our hope really is in the Church, and the Church is going nowhere. What I've learnt is, because our hope's in the Church and not ultimately in events, when we do these events we have a lot of fun with them and do some crazy things. We've had an amazing ride and loved every minute of it."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.