We are currently experiencing technical issues with some of our video content. If you are unable to access a video, please email [email protected] for help.

The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Never miss a thing!


Festival season advice – by a church leader, for church leaders

A space to be equipped and encouraged…

Whether they’re huge, multi-stage campsites, ‘house parties’ in boarding schools, or something in between, Christian summer festivals and getaways are a key part of many churches’ annual rhythm. And for good reason. If you’re anything like me, gathering with a large group of Christians from different churches, workplaces, and parts of the country feels like a taste of heaven.

I love the opportunity to get away, encounter new ideas, and spend uninterrupted time with God – without having to think about rotas or responsibilities. I love the opportunity to share stories and meals with others knowing there’s all the time in the world to have deep faith conversations. I find I always come away feeling richer – that God has done something in and through me, whether in conversations, the meetings, or prayer.

I’m so grateful to so many leaders (including many of you reading this) who have worked and continue to work hard to help their church family attend these festivals together, so they can focus on God and enjoy life-giving moments. From my own experience, I know this is no small task. It means working late into the evenings preparing talks, shaping family summer plans around your festival commitments, reorganising rotas to cover time away, and the physical feat of packing up equipment, props, and supplies for the event.

At the same time, as leaders we need to be careful to keep festivals in the right perspective. Particularly when we personally enjoy them, it can be tempting to talk as though this is what the whole year’s been building up to – as though we’ve slogged through 50 weeks of ‘ordinary’ church and now finally get the reward of the summer festival. Of course, none of us really think that – but it’s worth considering what message is conveyed from the front. Are we excited for the opportunity to refocus and get re-energised before re-joining the mission God’s given us where we are – or are we leaning towards escapism?

…for a wider purpose

Because as wonderful as these festivals are – they end. We return home and go back to the places where we scatter throughout the week. Each one of us arrives at a street, picks up the day’s work (paid or unpaid), and tackles a mountain of laundry. And this is the key thing: how we come back from festivals is as important as what happens when we’re away.

Scattered across villages, towns, and cities, we come as the body of Christ. The things we’ve learned and the moments when we’ve felt the presence of God aren’t isolated from the rest of our lives; they’re not holy islands in a sea of boring, ordinary stuff. Quite the reverse. The whole point of spending time away as a church is to be re-energised for the places, tasks, and people God has given us. Our mission doesn’t happen at the campsite – it happens in the mundane, God-ordained moments that flow past us week in, week out. In the work we do, the relationships we nurture, the moments when we stand up for justice, the way we shape the culture around us to look more like heaven. When God’s people return from these ‘on fire’ moments, we should be excited for all he’s prepared them to do in their lives.

When we return, we also join back in with the gathered worship of those who’ve remained at home. By choice or necessity, they have stayed – and some will find this reunion hard, as we bounce back full of joy and fresh ideas into their possibly weary normality. Perhaps some will wonder why we aren’t this excited when we come to the end of a ‘normal’ church service. Are these weekly gatherings not good enough? Does God not work in these moments, too? And others will be delighted to hear our stories, filled with fire and inspiration, hopeful that they too will see and feel what we have seen and felt.

So, if you’re one of the ones coming back this summer, from whatever festival, camp, or house party, be ready for re-entry. Look for things to celebrate in the community as you return, remembering it’s the same God we encounter in the valley and on the mountaintop, at the desk and in the celebration. Keep celebrating those weekly gatherings: they may not always be as slick or feel as significant as a week away, but in them God is doing his work in us, shaping us as his people.

And pray that as we scatter into our everyday places, we’ll know God’s presence with us – and that the things he’s shown and taught us in our gathered times would flow out through us to bless the places we’re in and the people we’re with.

Revd Jo Trickey
Church Advocate, LICC


  1. Great advice for those going, and those not.

    By David Cockburn  -  2 Aug 2023
  2. Just as God is present at festivals, God is also present when we return to the ‘normality’ of our jobs. We have the glorious opportunity as we interact with our colleagues at work to hear what God is doing in their lives, just as we heard stories of what God is doing during the festival.

    For those in leadership roles, who upon returning from a festival and are starting their annual strategic planning cycle, have an amazing opportunity to look back and see the hand of God in our department or organization over the past year. We get to hear stories of what God has done, and listen to the dreams God has given our leaders for the new year. (Yes even in organizations that aren’t Christian we can see the hand of God). Then as we develop our plans for the new year, we get to ask the question – how will we encounter God in the new year, what will we see God do through our business?

    By James Bruyn  -  3 Aug 2023

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *