We are already (already!? We shoulda started this last year!) putting together our 2016 calendar and are looking for team members. We need to immediately (if not sooner!) get some folks to join us for Burning Nest, Port Talbot, Wales, May 25-31. We established a strong presence there last year. If you’re following our weird adventures, you may already know that our vision is to plant churches at transformational festivals.
Festival missions is not for everyone. Being immersed in counter culture gatherings can be a shock for many Christians. But if you’re comfortable around weird people – it helps if you’re a little weird yourself! this might be just the thing for you. The only requirement is the ability to love these entirely lovable folks.
The next batch of tickets goes on sale later this month (January), so please respond immediately! Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or FB message me.
This past week, I drove down to NC to be with my friend Jeff, an overseas missionary who has returned to the states. Jeff had a commitment to teach some YWAM students and staff about prophetic ministry and I accompanied him there. The teaching was excellent and on Friday we took about eighteen students and staff to a local community college to do minister prophetic blessings, words of knowledge, etc. They were all amazed at how easy and fun this kind of ministry can be, and at how open people were to receiving it.
This was a great group of people. I was filled with hope for the future of the Body because of them. I watched an introverted, tiny young woman named Gabby approach a large, somewhat scary guy whose body language clearly said, “Stay away!” She and Corey spent a lot of time with him and his demeanor visibly changed. They both prayed with him. I was standing a distance away, watching. The man was obviously appreciative and was smiling broadly when we left him.
As we walked around campus looking for people to minister to, Corey felt we should walk through a parking garage. I thought, well, what the heck? Who knows what could happen in a parking garage? We approached two young woman and asked them if they would like a “free blessing”. One said yes. As we blessed them, we each received words of knowledge for her and for her friend. As it turned out, they were both believers who were discussing how discouraged they each were in their faith. We spent maybe an hour with them. Corey and Gabby had great things to say to them. I was able to walk both of them through some inner healing. It felt like we were with lifelong friends when we, sadly, had to part and go on our way.
We had many other wonderful encounters with people that day, and heard similar great stories from the others who were all walking around in groups of two or three. One could easily write a small book from the events of that one day and it would be really encouraging reading. Maybe we should do that!
Prophetic evangelism is easy, it’s fun and it’s fruitful. Each of these people regularly practiced evangelism, but not quite like this. This is the kind of ministry I do, and if you’re interested in making a difference this way, I can show you how. We’re planning our festival schedule for next year and are looking for team members who might be interested in going with us to one or more festivals. Stay tuned, or contact me. My training style is mostly OJT (on the job).
My friend Jeff is also available to come and teach groups. He is an excellent teacher. If you are a pastor or other leader who would like to see your people on fire for evangelism, he’s your man. Contact me, I can put you in touch
Well, Burning Man 2015 is over. Up until now, I’ve taken that mission a year at a time. There have always been so many unknowns, so much expense and so much work and planning involved that one step at a time seemed to be the best approach. The destruction of the dome in the almost unrelenting high winds is largely the catalyst that has got me thinking more long term about my future there. The dome was really useful on a lot of levels – as kitchen space, a place to hang out, and a place to offer hospitality to others, which often resulted in ministry happening right in our camp in an informal approach (though the ministry was often quite deep).
I went alone this year. That also made me aware of my need to plan and make decisions.
So the dome needs to be replaced with…something. With what? It depends. I don’t expect to go alone again, but last year it was just three of us and the year before, just four. The little 20′ PVC dome was great for us. But what if we want to take a larger team?
So the main thing I need to know, upon which how to plan depends, is, can we get a team to go, and how big of a team?
So this is a preliminary call for team members. We need reasonably healthy people, including some who are good with building and tools. No ministry experience is necessary. We will train you. It isn’t even necessary that you be a Christian. If you want to be a part and contribute to what we’re doing, we have stuff for you to do. We need people who can embody the Ten Principles of Burning Man (Look them up. Self reliance is one of them).
Beyond Burning Man
But Burning Man is not the only thing we do. We have a vision to plant churches at festivals. I’ve written about why this is important in other blog posts, but in a nutshell (a) the world is being changed at these festivals and (b) festival goers are spiritual seekers and are open to spiritual discussions. We potentially established churches at three festivals in the UK this past summer.
So we hope to build a pool of people who are interested in participating in this vision. You may have been part of some leader’s vision in the past where you basically were locked into what that leader’s vision was, but our methodology is different. We want people to join us, and support the vision with their own vision, creativity, and ideas.
If this interests you, we’d like to hear from you. Here is a link where you can get on a list to receive e-mails. You can also follow this blog. I also have a FB page by the same name, My Foolish Mission.
Even if you feel you can’t travel to these festivals, there is a LOT you may be able to do: You can pray! You can help get the word out. There may be things that need to be built, costumes to make, etc. Words of encouragement are really helpful! Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
It was a routine encounter in just about every way. A woman sat before me, troubled by anxiety (I don’t remember what the issue was. I never do). I said, “Let’s ask God what He has to say about it. Do you have a belief in God?”
“I believer there’s something”, she said.
“Are you ok with calling this ‘something’ God?”
So I had her ask God questions about whatever she was troubled by and listen for the answers. And God answered her. He almost always does. Actually, I think He always does, but sometimes people can’t hear.
The answers brought her great relief. It always amuses me that at this stage of the encounter, the person receiving ministry doesn’t think it strange that God is speaking to them, even though they are usually doubtful He will. So, as I’m in the habit of doing, I asked her, “Do you realize you’ve just had a two way conversation with your Creator?”
“God spoke to you because He loves you. And He is more eager to speak with us than we often are to speak with Him”.
Now she knows that “something” is a person with a voice, and that He cares for her. She encountered Him herself. My only role is as a facilitator. No advice. No sales pitch. No clever entreaties. Just her and God, having their own conversation, and I get to be a fly on the wall.
I love this ministry.
“The evangelical church is contributing to the political and social polarization in the nation instead of acting as peacemaker. The church’s responsibility is to be for the political sphere (and the culture) what it cannot be for itself. The church is not to hold those on the left in contempt, neither is it to be co-dependent on those on the right, but rather it is to provide moral/ethical guidance for the whole of the political sphere.”*
Reading this made me happy. Although I tend toward social conservatism, I’ve long been uncomfortable with the evangelical attitude that God is the champion of the political right, that conservatism equals godliness. Lately, I’ve been even more disturbed by the near panic of the Christian right and their insistence on preserving a culture which benefits themselves and their preferred lifestyle. As Christians, we aren’t supposed to be spending our lives making ourselves comfortable. That idea is absolutely antithetical to anything Jesus and the New Testament writers either said or modeled. And yet, the proponents of Christendom have never had a problem justifying such a life.
Once the above quote had sunk in a little, I did kick back against it a little, thinking, this is true, but the same can be said for progressive Christianity. And I believe that applies. But evangelicalism’s jingoism has been running on fumes for much longer and is more entrenched (in a rut, in other words). And for myself and most of those I minister with, we are either evangelical or from evangelical backgrounds, and I have no doubt this is where the cleanup needs to start. Progressive Christianity is at least partly a reaction to evangelical churchianity, and as such, they’re entitled to it.
We can either be missional or we can serve ourselves. Not both. If we want to be missional, we can’t insist the culture conform to our preferences, which were never anything like a perfect reflection of God’s Kingdom anyway. Instead, we need to allow the culture to inform us about how to serve them – in other words, be Christ to them – in a way that’s meaningful to them. It’s no good trying to provide someone with a sense of identity when they haven’t eaten in two days, and it’s no good talking about the hereafter if they’re outraged about the social injustices they see all around them.
“Jesus is waiting for the local church to join him in the culture. Christ is not waiting for the culture to join him at church.”*
Good things are happening! Let’s pay attention so we don’t miss anything!
* From “Following Jesus To Burning Man”, Kerry D. McRoberts
On Monday, May the 15th, Phil and I arrived in our rented van full of building materials plus a large tent, to be used for ministry, in a beautiful green valley less than ten minutes from the south Wales steel mill city of Port Talbot. This was to be the site of Burning Nest, a Burning Man inspired festival, and this would be its third year. It was obviously going to be very different from Burning Man, which is held in a completely barren desert where you have to bring everything you will need to survive for a week, two hours from the nearest city. Here, there were bunks to sleep in, running water, flush toilets, hot showers, wifi, green grass and lush trees. Five hundred people would attend this four day event as opposed to the seventy thousand that spent a week in the Nevada desert last year. We were here several days early to help with set-up and to build our interactive art project, and to minister in dream interpretation and inner healing to the festival goers.
We helped where we could, building geodesic domes, etc., and built our “Told Booth”. It was a toll booth on a bridge in which people were invited to write things they had been “told” which had taken a toll on their lives. People were curious about it, which resulted in us meeting people and having lots of conversations. They were excited to hear that, on Sunday, the last day of the festival, we would burn it and all the things they had written would go up in smoke.
On Thursday, Hope Deifell and Dee Cunniffe arrived. They are both gifted and experienced in prophetic ministry, including dream interpretation and healing. They had brought all kinds of material for decorating the ministry tent; bolts of colorful cloth, lighting, etc., and got to work making the tent into a beautiful, peaceful place. By this time, the Told Booth was operational and people were writing things on the walls. Heartbreaking things. Hurtful things people had said to them. Exposing secret hurts to the light of day brings healing. Several times, knowing that I was connected with the Told Booth, people would just tell me things they had been told. Some of these, I was able to minister to on the spot; others I invited to come to the ministry tent, and some of them did.
The ministry tent was immediately busy. Even though there were only three of us ministering, we often needed to have two encounters going at the same time because people would just walk in. There were several very powerful encounters. As usual, we watched years of hurt and trauma fall from people’s shoulders as they were changed before our eyes. We were able to share Jesus with nearly every one. No one objected. They were open to all that we had to say. Many expressed a desire to know Jesus, and we gave them all that they were able to receive at that time, encouraging them to continue getting to know him. A couple of them chose to ask Jesus into their lives.
Several of the encounters were very intense. One in particular was a young man who, just as he was about to get his freedom, would retreat into himself. I feared we would fail him. We were all praying intently, but we seemed to be losing the battle. I felt helpless. The way we approach this kind of ministry is to walk the person through the process to freedom, but they must do it themselves through an act of their own will in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and he kept shrinking back at the key moment. Suddenly, it was as if a fire were lit inside him. He took authority over his torment, spoke truth to defeat the lies in his life, and he was free! We were all crying!
Another, middle aged man had anger buried so deep that he wasn’t able to ever BE angry, even when it was appropriate. We located the source of the anger; he had been picked on relentlessly in school. I had him pretend that I was all the kids who had hurt him, and had him tell me all the things he would like to have told those kids. As he started, his voice got louder and louder. He got really angry! People outside were looking. It was pretty scary. But he got free. He was a different man after that. He didn’t even look the same.
Everywhere around the festival site, we heard people talking about the things we were doing. They loved the Booth and they loved us for bringing it. People who received ministry from us went and got their friends and brought them to us. Wherever we went, people would ask us when they could have an encounter. We were rock stars! We would explain that it was only through God that we were able to do what we did.
On Sunday, we burned the Told Booth. We had a large crowd. They watched the hurtful words go up in smoke as they cheered. It was a huge fire! This was a really cathartic thing to happen to this community of festival goers who had come looking for transformative and/or spiritual experiences. We had succeeded in providing just that for a great many of them.
But this was not intended to be a one time event. We believe in the long haul, in investing ourselves the communities to which we are sent. Going to Nest was also a reconnaissance mission, and plans for how to best serve this community began to form immediately and will continue to develop. This is true for each of the festivals we attend. We intend to return next year, with a larger team of eight to ten. We want to provide a spiritual oasis where people can encounter Jesus to the degree that they choose. That requires creativity and sensitivity to the people and to the Holy Spirit, and we have the experience to do it. This is what we do. We want to be a visible presence that is accessible to festival goers right where they can be reached.
Maybe you’d like to join us 🙂
IF YOU’VE NEVER READ MY BLOG before, you might not know that I am a missionary to Transformational Festivals. I spoken before about how these festivals, which number in the several hundreds or thousands world wide, are influencing the larger society. I’ve spoken about how spiritually hungry festival goers tend to be. Going to festivals has been for me a series of surprises and un-learning about people in general, about ministry and evangelism, and about Jesus. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about Jesus from people whom you will likely never see in church and whose behavior, dress, language, etc., would never be tolerated in most of them.
AND THAT LEADS ME TO talking about the one thing that has haunted me for eight years about festival peeps, and that is the percentage of them who have been wounded in church. It’s more than half. Now, I’m not interested in laying blame here. But along with that fact is this one: that almost none of these people are averse to talking about Jesus. You can see the hurt or anger in their eyes as they talk about church; but they very often feel some sort of affinity, even affection, for Jesus. True, they often have misconceptions about him (or are the misconceptions mine?). In any case, ministering at festivals is easy, IF! you’ve unlearned enough stuff.
ANYWAY, as our vision of festival missions grows, it has occurred to Phil, my partner in these crazy endeavors, that we need to create “church” at these various festivals, church which returns every year, which people can count on to be there for them. In true missiological fashion, these “churches” would not look like the familiar Western churches, but would be adapted to the culture they are presented to serve. We’ve been doing this awhile and consider ourselves to be very much the same as the people we go to serve; we identify with them fully. They are our people. We are them. This is the stuff successful missions are made of.
IN EIGHTEEN DAYS, we leave for Iceland. We don’t have a real plan for what we’ll do there, but that’s not unusual and is never a problem; quite the opposite. Then we go to Wales for Burning Nest (a Burning Man inspired festival) where we’ll be joined by Hope Deifell of North Carolina, and Dee, who lives near London, England. Then a philosophy festival at Hay on Wye, Wales, followed by the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge.
Would you like to help? We could use lots of prayer, particularly for health issues we are battling. If you’d like to contribute, it’s tax deductible. Just follow the link. Let us know it’s for festival missions.
Thanks for reading!
Heading to Iceland where we will get into some really organic outreach, then our small team to Wales for the Burning Nest festival followed by a philosophy festival, also in Wales, then Phil and I head to Stonehenge for the summer solstice celebration. We expect to touch literally hundreds of lives.
21 days left!
If you’ve been following my FB posts or my blog you know that my co-troublemaker, Phil, and I are headed overseas for some ministry/outreach. What you might not know is, Phil is sick! Well, we’re both “sick”, or so people tell us, but that’s not what I mean. I know what you’re thinking. He’s in-the-hospital sick. We trust he’s getting well and will recover completely, but he’s going to need a total of 6 weeks of IV antibiotics and that 6 week period will be finished maybe 48 hours before we leave for Iceland!
(Yes, that’s an emoticon)
Needless to say, this creates a few problems vis a vis the upcoming trip, not to mention some for Phil personally.
We need prayer!!! Specifically for Phil’s health. A few miracles are needed. The infection needs to be completely gone. He needs protection from any sort of reaction to antibiotics. Phil’s physical heart needs a miraculous healing. Those are numero uno.
Of secondary importance, but crucial to this trip, we need God to take care of quite a few details that we neither have the time or the resources to deal with. I won’t bore you with a list of them (I can’t even foresee all of them!). Some of them will be surprises when they occur, to me anyway.
With Phil unable to devote as much time to this project as he otherwise would have, our fund raising efforts are hampered. We have the airline tickets. We have the festival tickets, camping reservations, etc. paid for. I personally have (almost) enough money put aside to cover bills while I’m gone. I thought about breaking down anticipated expenses for this letter, but that seems antithetical to the level of faith this requires us to walk in. That being said, the fact is, we do need money!
I feel like we need those who have been such loving supporters (and those who might want to be) of Phil and The Gathering to rejoice with us, raising a hilarious cry to heaven for all He is going to do to make these outreaches successful, because this is bigger than just the immediate outreaches this summer. We’re trying to start trouble — oops, I mean, a movement! We’re trying to start a movement here!