When I was a teenager I heard about this thing called Big Church Day Out (BCDO), and, honestly, I though it sounded like this naff event for ‘happy clappy Christians’. I had never been part of the ‘cool’ crowd, but this sounded lame even for me. What could be worse than spending a day surrounded by socks and sandals Christians singing Kumbaya?!
I was almost persuaded to go one year when Switchfoot were playing, I was mildly obsessed with them for a couple of years and it was a cheap way to see them live. But I was a stubborn sixteen year old and couldn’t quite bring myself to go.
And then something changed.
I rediscovered my faith two years ago and suddenly it all clicked into place and I wanted to get as involved in the Church as much as I could. I volunteered at as many conferences and festivals as I could and eventually BCDO came up. At the time I was working for Tearfund and the appeal of going was that so many of my friends and colleagues were also attending. I was a team leader for an audience team (one of those annoying people that comes up and asks you for money!), and I loved every minute of it.
I had never worked harder in my life, I had done nearly 60,000 steps in one day and it was beyond shattering, but the atmosphere was fantastic. It was such a great way to meet new people; there’s something about a festival vibe that bonds people and a community is formed (yes I know that’s incredibly cheesy!). My opinion of these people turned from ‘happy clappy Christians’ to powerful people of faith, coming together to serve and worship. BCDO is probably the biggest gathering of Christians in one place in the whole of the UK, and honestly, it was pretty spectacular.
I have such great memories of last year’s event, but as I was volunteering, there was barely a chance to actually enjoy the festival, so this year I bought a ticket and went just for the fun of it. Even though I went on my own, I knew about 60 other people in attendance, and was confident that I’d find people to hang out with. I camped with Tearfund (because once a Tearfunder, always a Tearfunder), and by the end of Friday I had already met a whole load of new people. Over the weekend I got to catch up with old friends and new, and, although I spent some time wandering on my own, I wasn’t bored or lonely once. In the few solitary moments I would wander the site, chat to people in the Bazaar, buy some new books, or just enjoy the music. I finally got to see Switchfoot live, and felt like a child again when I saw Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) strut her stuff on stage. The worship in the evenings, Bethel and Hillsong, was beautiful and some of my favourite moments included listening to Matt Maher around a campfire, and dancing like a mad person to Rend Collective.
If you’ve ever thought about going along to BCDO, I can’t recommend it enough, and volunteering is such a great way to go about it. Personally, I can’t wait for next year to do it all again – I’ll be the happy clappy Christian at the front, though I’ll give the socks and sandals a miss.
If you want to volunteer for any other festivals then Tearfund is such a great charity to do it with, I’ll be doing HTB Focus with them in a few weeks and I already know it’s going to be a great week!
p.s. Apologies for the very cheesy blog, I get excited about these kind of things!