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Festival Victoria?

21 March, 2005 12:53 PM

I've held off on posting about this until the event was over - but today I feel its appropriate to say a few words about it. I hope this doesn't come across as a Rant - but I've been pondering it for a while and wonder if perhaps the Church needs to think through its approach to marketing.... let me explain...

This weekend was 'Festival Victoria' (Victoria is the state I live in).

It sounds like a pretty normal event really - like the 'comedy festival', the 'fashion festival', the 'film festival' - Melbourne has a lot of festivals so 'Festival Victoria' fits in doesn't it.

The question is - what is 'Festival Victoria'?

If you're a semi observant Melbournian you'd have noticed posters plastered all over Melbourne about 'Festival Victoria' for the past few months - there have been radio ads also this past week or so on some of the commercial stations and I suspect there were ads in newspapers and perhaps even on TV. They were all advertising 'Festival Victoria'.

But what is 'Festival Victoria'?

The first ad I saw for it was a poster plastered on the brickwork on the outside of a local cafe with all the other posters there advertising upcoming rock concerts. Right in the middle was an ad for Festival Victoria that advertised a 'Hip Hop' concert with a number of bands. The art work was in red, black and white and it stood out from the posters around it. I didn't take much more notice of the poster than that - not being into Hip Hop.

Then I started seeing ads on the sides of bus stops again in Red and White. With big words like 'IS', 'GET' and 'WHAT' with smaller writing around them advertising Festival Victoria. They had messages on them like 'IS there more to life than this...', 'WHAT if there is life after death?' Underneath these ads was a picture of some guy I didn't recognize who had a name that at first didn't mean anything to me - Franklin Graham. They were promoting some event with music, entertainment and 'featuring Franklin Graham'.

The next I heard about it was on the Radio - a commercial station that plays light rock/pop music. The ad was for 'Festival Victoria' which was an event with bands, famous sports stars (with messages on video clips) and musicians and 'featuring Franklin Graham'. Of course by now I knew what Festival Victoria was because a number of my minister friends had asked me if I was going and had explained that Franklin Graham was actually Billy Graham's son and that the event was a big evangelism weekend - it was a modern day 'Crusade' - a... Festival.

They gave me brochures, pointed me to the website and told me there were ads on the Christian Radio Station advertising it too. I tuned into the Christian radio station to see what they were saying there and heard an ad that was quite different from what was on the commercial stations - it was spelt out much more clearly what the event was - it was something to bring unsaved friends to - there would be preaching, prayer, worship.

I checked out the website and saw similar language being used - 'prayer over Melbourne', 'preaching of the word' etc.

Interesting. I began to ponder the different messages I was hearing and as I did became more and more uncomfortable with was I was seeing and hearing.

Whilst I am totally behind the idea of evangelism and mission - I worry that the marketing and promotion that is being done of this event could be seen as somewhat manipulative and getting people to attend under false pretenses.

As far as I could see on the more public advertising on posters, billboards and radio - there was very little indication that this was a Christian event, that there would be preaching, prayer, worship or a call to faith given. There were a few hints that there might be something a little deeper going on - for instance the radio ad said that the sporting stars appearing on video would tell stories about what they'd found to be helpful for their lives (thats a paraphrase) - but really the statement was open to interpretation.

I mentioned my concerns to one of my minister friends and his defense of the Festival was that it was clear that Franklin Graham was going to be speaking and 'eveyone knows who Franklin Graham is'. The implication was that his name would be enough indication for people to know what the event was about. Of course until someone told me I didn't even know who he was - and I've been hanging out in church for 32 years - I'm not sure any of my non churchy type friends would have any idea.

I questioned the use of the word 'Festival' and was told it was a more relevant word these days than 'Crusade'. I agree - its a more relevant word - but wonder if perhaps its been used to mask what the event really is.

The word Festival does get used a lot in Melbourne - but it usually gets used in conjunction with a word that describes what the event is - 'Film Festival', 'Comedy Festival' to name just two examples. 'Festival Victoria' - what's that say about the event?

Ok - I'm probably sounding like I hate the idea of 'Festival Victoria' by now. I don't - I just have some concerns about the way it was marketed. I know of people who went along and enjoyed it, that took friends who had conversion experiences - I think thats great.

We could probably have a good discussion about the place of event evangelism vs relationship evangelism at this point. I personally don't find the big 'event' style fits with my own experience of evangelism - but do acknowledge that it has its place and has obviously had an impact upon many people over the centuries - however I do have a problem with people showing up to an event thinking that its going to be one thing and finding out when they get there that its another.

How many people showed up to the 'Hip Hop event' expecting a night of 'Hip Hop' only to find that as a special extra they actually get a message from a middle aged (and probably very nice) man from another country telling them about Jesus?

Now I'm not wanting to doubt that God can't move through a middle aged man from another country sharing the gospel to a bunch of hip hoppers (is that what you call hip hop fans?) - but I wonder how transparent and genuine it is. I wonder what the cost of such an approach is on the Hip Hoppers who don't respond to the gospel positively - the one's who go home furious about being sucked in possibly a step further away from Christ when they went to the event?

Again - I'm speaking as someone who is passionate about mission and as someone who didn't attend - but as someone who works among people who are skeptical enough about the Church without having to be exposed to this kind of marketing campaign.

Ok - I'm happy to be put back into line here and have others share opinions and experiences of Festival Victoria - am I a looney for thinking this way?

Comments

Page:

I've been concerned about it too. this article and this one frighten me.

The second one says 'Victorian churches have spent $1.8 million on the free event.' The first one said that 10,000 volunteers helped run it. It also said that it was funded by US backers (in addition to the 1.8millioin??)

My goodness - I wonder what would happen if the churches of Australia put $1.8million dollars and 10,000 volunteers into relationship evangelism, or planting small churches that ministered to subcultures (like what LivingRoom does). I wonder what impact that would have in comparison to the 3000 who came to faith on the weekend.

I know I'm comparing things that can't and shouldn't be compared - but I am concerned too.

Ray » 21 March, 2005 1:13 PM

Isn't it interesting how everyone flocks to be part of the next BIG thing. It would be fascinating to find out how many non-believers were actually there.

The marketing did sort of smack of the Amway curiosity approach concept. And don't people hate THAT when they find out.

I like the Katinas and was tempted to go just to see them live - but I decided out of principle to stay away.

kel » 21 March, 2005 3:34 PM

I was dragged along by my wife and kids on Friday night. I wasn't keen to go. I felt the name of the event and the advertising were downright deceptive.
The music artists (Katinas, Nicole C Mullens, Marina Prior) were excellent but too far away to really engage anyone. The grass area was kept clear with the stage down at one end, so the closest you could sit was about 50 m away with large video screens picking up the slack, although the sound was not synched to the vision. Graham spoke plainly and directly then did the altar call, several hundred people responding, which surprised me as everyone around us seemed bored to tears. My 10 year old daughter went forward to "get saved" despite the fact that she is already a self-professed believer. I suspect she was more curious and after freebees than anything else. My wife who accompanied her did a quick survey of people talking to counsellors, who made up around half the people out front and couldn't detect anyone making a first time commitment. Upon checking with a friend who acted as a counsellor, we got a similar report.
Is there something wrong with me? Am i just a party-pooper? My wife said it all when she returned to our seats. She asked me, "Is it just me or is this really, really awful?" Reluctantly, I had to agree. I would love to see the true statistics and be proven wrong, but i can't help but draw the conclusion the we as a church need a good solid look in the mirror...or maybe we have gazed too long...

rivertribemike » 21 March, 2005 8:25 PM

Thanks for your comments Mike,

I just spoke to someone else with similar comments on it. They said they went with 40 friends - all of them churched people. They saw a lot of other friends - all church people - there and on the way home in the car wondered what it had all been in aid of.

I too hope there is more to it than that - but I really wonder 'why'.

I also had chats with another friend who knew people who were counsellors who had been in training for the night for 6 months. They reported similar stories - lots of Christians coming forward and a feeling of disillusionment at the end of the night when they realised how much time, energy and money had been put into an event that was largely for Christians.

Darren » 21 March, 2005 9:02 PM

Imagine if it had been called "The Jesus Festival." What does that bring to mind?

Unordered » 21 March, 2005 11:15 PM

Despite the outcomes of Festival Victoria, at least calling it "The Jesus Festival" would be a little more honest...on this score, it's worth reading Andrew Jones' latest blog post: http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2005/03/aussie_invasion.html which features a popular media article about the expansion of Australia's CCC churches into the USA. I don't know what the answer is, but the idea seems to be growing that evangelism is about slick marketing and putting a cool, hip, even emergent veneer over a prosperity gospel, where big and flashy and expensive are seen as indespensible values in communicating Jesus. In the article, the Australian pastor, who sidesteps any discussion of theology, talks about the fact that they targeted Atlanta, largely because of it's "hot economy"

rivertribemike » 22 March, 2005 9:32 AM

I too was extremely skeptical about this event after experiencing the marketing approach - and almost embarrassed to talk about it with my non-church friends, only to have to reveal to them the truth of what the event actually was. There were a lot of questions going around the office & I being the only person with the truth had to fess up that this was in fact a Christian event. I also felt obligated to go, being a youth leader, wanted to give the youth an opportunity to invite their unchurched friends along (1 of which actually came & went forward in the alter call). I also went to I guess have the "crusade" experience (too young for Billy). I also had no idea who Franklin was until the talk of this event. I sat in the arena very skeptical & left feeling even more skeptical. Franklin preached a message that was in no way deceptive - preached the Gospel very simply - but couln't help but think that if I was a non-christian hearing that message, it would've taken a lot more than that to convince me!! However, we are called to preach the Gospel & God "will do the rest". And I guess that's what He did, because there were, to my estimation, a couple thousand people that responded...how, I don't know. But I also consider that at least half of those people were Christians, supporting their friends making a committment. I too, couldn't believe the amount of Christians that were there!! I also asked the question as to whether this was an outreach event or a concert for Christians with a brief message afterwards! I too am disgusted with the amount of money spent on something that was pretty mediocre with all the'hype' that went along with it. I agree that that kinds money could've been better spent. But the deception of the "church" in general throughout the marketing of this event is what disappoints the most - like the church don't already have enough negative things to respond to....

Tracer » 22 March, 2005 10:39 AM

Well, I guess it is up to me to give something akin to the insider account.

Festival Victoria was more than just a one weekend event. For about 8,000 Melburnians it began last October when churches around Melbourne began running five week Christian Life & Witness classes, aiming to equip and encourage Christians to share their faith.

Following these classes, many churches launched Operation Andrew, which encouraged people to pray daily for seven non Christian friends: that we would have opportunities to share our faith with them (this might include inviting them to the festival) and that we would commit to helping them grow as Christians whenever they make a commitment.

Then there came the festival itself, where 92,000 people came together over the weekend and there were about 3,500 first time commitments (according to the reports of the people who went forward on their response cards).

My experience personally was typical of me, initially I was cold, refusing to get involved in the first wave of Christian Life & Witness classes, however I got involved in the second wave, which were good, but no big departure from any standard evangelism training with illustrations and memory tricks to help you remember a simple explanation of the doctrines of sin and salvation.

However, during the festival I helped out processing the response cards which were collected, which was an enormous privelige. While as an event the festival left something to be desired, I was encouraged on several levels:

Firstly, the incredibly emphasis that has been put upon follow up. People filling out response cards would have received customised letters by today and unless they have requested otherwise on the card, their church will be contacted or they will be connected with a local church. For the next six weeks, the festival office is remaining open in order to keep track of the follow up activities of churches, if churches don't follow up the people who have reported commitments, then the festival will ask other churches to do so.

Secondly, the festival flushed out a huge number of churches that until now haven't had much contact with mainstream Melbourne Christianity. My specific role was church research, trying to track down churches that respondents claimed they attended but which weren't on any pre-existing databases. We probably found about 120 new churches over the weekend, mostly ethnic congregations with either traditional protestant or newer Pentecostal roots. Particularly interesting was the fact that these churches are flourishing and multiplying in areas like Sunshine, Springvale and Reservoir where congregations in the traditional protestant denominations (Uniting, Anglican, Baptist) are in decline.

Thirdly, on Saturday night three bus loads of youth came in from my church, with about a third of them being unchurched friends of our youth. While I haven't had a chance to learn whether any commitments were made, I do know that the Festival saw larger numbers of our youth than ever before praying commitedly for their unsaved friends and taking the chance of talking with their friends about Jesus, their faith and their church.

As to the advertising - no, it wasn't perfect. I am not a marketing guru, and don't know how I would have advertised it - let's just say that the advertising campaign probably wasn't seen by many people before it was approved.

As to disillusionment - I think we can all get disillusioned by any kind of evangelistic activity. Jesus talks about the seed falling on different kinds of ground, only a little of it falls on productive soil, and the rest of the time we can feel very depressed about all the failures until we find that good soil.

The one unchurched friend of mine who showed enough interest in my faith to respond when I talked about it made a commitment, spent a blazing two months as a Christian, and then decided they were over it. It hasn't put me off sharing with friends since then, nor does the fact that definitely, many of the people who "made commitments" on the weekend really did nothing more than walk down an aisle and out onto a footy oval for a closer look at the stage. The reality is though that I know God uses things like this, and in twenty years there will probably be a small number of people who look back to last weekend as a turning point in their life.

Anyway, let's give it all a go. Whatever type of evangelism it is, if it calls people to make real commitments in their hearts to Christ, then I am for it.

Joel Parsons » 22 March, 2005 5:50 PM

"What we convert people with is what we convert people to."

If people came for a show, it's unlikely that they would commit to anything except possibly returning for the next show...but that assumes the quality was good and the demographic fit was comfortable.

We had something similar in Seattle a year or two ago with Luis Palau, who is apparently the Billy Graham of Latin America (though he speaks great English too). It was like any other festival, but more boring, and also populated almost entirely by Christians. I thought it was deceptively promoted, too - you couldn't tell what it was from the name or the signs. They probably spent a million or two million dollars. We went for the Third Day concert which was included, but left before it was over.

As we were leaving, we were accosted by a number of people asking us if we were right with the Lord (their phrase). I appreciate people being concerned, but having a total stranger ask you a confronting and personal question was uncomfortable, if not downright threatening.

I'm biased, but I can't say I'm a fan of these big events, either.

Justin Baeder » 23 March, 2005 6:53 AM

Great post Darren, and some great discussion.

I too thought the advertising was a little deceptive, if you're gonna run a Christian thing, at least tell people!

I had one of my youth kids who's birthday it was try and organise all of her friends to go (nothing wrong with that) but totally didn't tell them what it was, just 'this big concert thing' Pretty deceptive really. Needless to say I discouraged her from taking that approach.

I know God will have totally worked through such an event, but I too wonder if that was the best use of our time, money and prayers...

Mass evangelism may suit modern thinkers who are willing to accept what some guy they have no relationship with tells them, but most postmodern thinkers I know would have run scampering.

Digger » 23 March, 2005 9:15 AM

Digger, I would say that mass evangelism is probably best suited to those who already know and just need to be challenged to act. Hence it worked well in the 1950s when so many more Australians already had a Christian upbringing, even if their parents didn't go to church many kids were sent to Sunday school back in those days. Hence the large number of people who I know who have become Christians at similar rallies but had very strong nominal Christian (particularly Catholic) upbringings previously, so they understood what the preacher was talking about.

Joel Parsons » 23 March, 2005 2:05 PM

Yeah good post Daz!
I did a post on this before the event a little bit ago.
I didn't know about the advertising thing though, I hate that kinda thing. Living in Ballarat means we didn't get as much media adverts.
And that we (the church) spent 1.8 million on this one event is amazing, how about we spend 1.8 million on the poor and homeless and needy, then people might actually listen to what we have to say.

�johnman� » 23 March, 2005 2:19 PM

I'm up in Brisbane these days, so I was obviously not around to attend. However, some people I know from Melbourne were there. These friends of mine were Christian - they invited some non-Christian family who did not end up going along...I think they were fairly happy with that in the end.

Their reports were similar to some of the others here: music was actually good, Franklin was pretty poor.

Other than that, a number of the people who went forward for the altar call were not just nominal Christians but Christians who felt they should go up anyway (not sure if it was guilt or the mood created by a 'festival'). Moreover, there were, apparently, many who wanted to walk the hallowed turf...of Telstra Dome that is!

If this sort of thing works, then great -- I aint going to stand in the way of God bringing people to him, but it really isn't my cup of tea...anyway, I'd rather go to a food and wine festival with some friends and talk about life with them than go to a Franklin Graham festival!

Steve Chatelier » 23 March, 2005 2:23 PM

Paul said, "by all possible means..... save some...." I didn't know the marketing side of things because I was only listening to light FM (yeah sorry!), but I personally had invited 5 friends to the Victoria Festival, and was happy to see two of them accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour :)

Kitty » 25 March, 2005 12:52 AM

The bottom line for me is this. Often you will hear comments like "I have nothing against these sorts of events", or "there is nothing wrong with these sorts of events but", or "God can use anything, even these sorts of events".

I disagree with these statements and sentiments. I think there IS something profoundly wrong with these sorts of events, for two reasons.

Firstly, we capitulate to popular culture when we outsource any aspect of our own discipleship. When will we begin to collectivley name the lie that is, we can outsourrce any aspect of our discipleship (weather it be our own personal study and theologising to the person delivering the sermon or outsourcing our need to be personally involved in mission and evangelism to some festival organised by people who do not know our friends) in the same way that corporations and businesses depersonalise humanity in the same way?

Outsourcing is driven by a market economy and it reduces people to their transactional value, rather than their inherent value. How many times have I sat through evangelism classes and people are asked to put their hands up in response the following questions "who came to know Jesus through a book, event or friend?" and the answer is often overwhelmingly (over 90% every time I have been involved) through a friend? When we think that we can engage in evangelism and mission in an inpersonal way, we capitulate to popular culture. The end result is dehumanising. There is something wrong from this perspective.

The second reason I think that these sorts of events are wrong is on the issue of imagination. When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. As long as we continue to agree that these substandard and dehumanising events are "ok", we deny the opportunity to engage with our individual and collective imaginations, to dream of alternative and different ways to engage unchurched Australia (feel free to put your own country or town in there).

We become lazy because combined with the idea of outsourcing, our imaginations remain flacid and diminished, again I think an insult to an incredibly creative God.

Can you tell that I gave up cynicism for lent? What an outburst that was!

Stephen Said » 29 March, 2005 11:11 AM

Interesting . . .

I agree with much that has been said, although some of the harshness is totally unnecessary. Please remember that the people who put this event on are Christians doing what they understand to be their best at reaching unchurched Australia. It'd be good if we could resist the urge to be harsh and actually engage these people in a reasonable dialogue about the issues we have. Criticism is only helpful when it is constructive.

That said, a comment I'd like to make about Festival Victoria in addition to these others is that what people were converting to at the festival was not just Christianity. It was the gospel of Jesus Christ plus our perculiar western (American) middle class Christian culture.

As I walked in I was greeted by a musician encouraging the crowd to shout from one side of the dome to the other 'Jesus is Lord.' At this point I was glad I didn't bring any of my cynical non-believing friends. As the night went on there were many more expressions and behaviours that screamed mainstream American Christianity. I found myself wondering if we really thought that this was the gospel of Jesus Christ that people needed to hear.

My greatest concern with Festival Victoria (possibly even greater than the deceptive advertising) was that they wouldn't take culture seriously and we would have American Christianity presented to a non-believing Australian audience. Unfortunately in many ways this is what I witnessed on the Friday night and this will be my feedback to the festival organisers.

Tim Jeffries » 31 March, 2005 7:31 PM

I'm glad this discussion is happening here. Thanks people. I, too, did not attend the festival, although there was some pressure to at church. My feeling too, from attending events like this before, is that it is an imposition of US culture. Did you see Leunig's cartoon in the age about the time of the festival, where he linked the evangelistic event, to the Americans invading Iraq? I'm sure a lot of Christians wouldn't take favourably to this image, but it really hit the nail on the head for me in regards to the festival. The idea that we know so much that we can tell people what is good for them and can even impose that on them. I guess it is a strong image, but I think this comes back to theology. If we are wanting to coerce people to take on our own belief system, it is not appropriate evangelism. God invites, persuades, engages, but I'm not sure that is what the festival was about. Some people offered to take my kids, because I had something on on Saturday, when the kids rally was on. I'm really glad that I said no, but to me this is really deceitful. Further to comments on marketing, the kids rally was built up as a "Fun event". Rides, balloons and of course Guy Sebastian were the drawcards. What i heard about how the kids rally went worried me even more. I heard that they were offered a PSII? if they were well behaved!!! There were prizes and going up the front to get your prizes. How did the Christian message get mixed up with this commercialism? And then there was a message and altar call. Of course the kids would associate going up the front with getting something. anyway, glad to get that off my chest. How can we pass this feedback on to the organisers?

Gwyn » 1 April, 2005 9:57 AM

Interesting a lot of your opinions that this thing was over commercialised - having been to countless youth alive type events i really appreciated the fact that there was not the same hype that typifies those events... I thought Graham was great - he just got up there and said "I want you to make a decision about Jesus" - so often preachers at these things try to start with some nice feely story, then promise you influence, power and prestige if you'd just come to Jesus - hardly a reason to respond... no, i really appreciated the fact of that, the fact that the music was not as "in your face" as so many other events...

That said, i was concerned about the number of christians i know who went every day, because it was the "big thing"... and a chance to see Guy sebastian and the other artists free, rather than about giving people an opportunity to meet Jesus....

I too have come around to thinking that mass, bulk evangelism doesnt necessarily work... Obviously evangelism can, but its simply not possible for anyone to say "All a non christian needs to know to make an informed life changing response" in 30 minutes.... I have been involved in a variety of what I call "event evangelism" events and am becoming more and more convinced that at best, it is a tool for christians, who can bring a friend they have built a long term relationship with, and let them hear the message plain and simple from someone else... at worst they can be numbers based, cynical attempts at getting people to make a decision they know nothing about.... that are loved by christians because of the good "christian" music.

I guess my point is, i take a lot more issue with the style and the "american" nature of it all rather than the actual message presented by franklin graham... and i believe that if there were a significant number of people who made decisions which will impact their eternity (surely less than the whole 3000, but, hopefully there were many) then, that event was worthwhile..... You can't buy souls... so whatever they spent was worth it if there were people who came to meet Jesus through it.

heath » 2 April, 2005 7:29 PM

Further to that - it really made me reflect on how we need to do "evangelism" in this aussie culture... maybe thats a more constructive revelation out of the event than "hey, lets bag americans"

heath » 2 April, 2005 7:35 PM

For those who were wondering about the marketing and promotion side of things, I had a mate who was involved a little bit, and the marketing for "secular" media (terrible term I know) was actually outsourced to a normal-mainstream-run-of-the-mill advertising agency.

They actually came back to the organisers with a campaign that was very open about the event being Christian, something along the lines of "Do you want to know about Jesus?" (don't quote me, but that was the general gist).

Anyhoo, the organisers turned this down flat....favouring instead the approach that has sparked all these comments.

Interesting hey?

P.S. I was going to put in my two cents, and then realised it would make a nice addition to my starving blog.....

Cozza » 6 April, 2005 1:16 AM

What a lot of comment Franklin Graham's visit generated! And what a shame that I have to agree with most of you that the event was culturally irrelevant and alarmingly Americanised. My favourite (I jest now) part of the Sunday spectacular - Franklin being presented with that great Aussie icon - the Akubra. I know mine comes in handy when I'm running from the car into church/home/Chadstone (again I jest). At least I'll know what to give Jesus should he visit Melbourne!

Annette Hill » 26 April, 2005 2:56 PM

hmmm.... i hav been a born again christian for a while... wen i was about 16 i took my friends to a youth alive and three got saved. they came to church, but there was no decipleship... they fell away and now they'r scarred from that. It says in the bible to count your costs before building a house... which was a parable for count your costs before becoming a christian.. my friends (and a lot of people at frankie im sure) didnt count the costs. infact had no idea. which of course was my fault to an extent as i wasnt really living in obedience to God and being an example to them. i hav another friend who we have been sharing our faith with. she's read books, the bible, and really researhed. she got saved three weeks ago at a big event.. think it was a youth alive or something similar, and is on fire..

My dad got saved wen he was 17... but satan attacked him straight away, saying that if he was a christian then he wouldnt smoke (dad has given that up now in God's strength by the way...) anyway, dad fell away and the only way he made it bak was with friends and support. my boyfriend has a similar story.. he became a christian but was still on drugs about 4 years ago... Two guys came to his church and took him into their home, decipled him and now he's on fire and has been for at least a year, if not 2. he still struggles with every day stuff.. money, consequences from his previous life, however, those guys hav helped him stand on his two feet and there is no way that he will turn away now..

It's decipleship i think that really makes the difference.. or maybe thats just where God has called me... Frankie is a vessel just like us all. and God will use each of us.. im just praying that God'l bring people into each of those person's lives that commited to Jesus that will be there to support them, love them, and help them live for God

Renae » 13 May, 2005 10:26 AM

G'day all,
Some very interesting points of view in this blogg, especially in regards to the marketing side of things. The approach which the organisers took was to invite as many people as they could, from all religions, which I guess was their mode for not explicitly mentioning Jesus. I can't criticise what was actually done over the weekend as I have no idea what would have eventuated in the alternative. I guess what we can do is give praise for the people who met Jesus that weekend back in March.

Being a counsellor leading one of the follow up groups, I can tell you that one young man who went forward at Festival Victoria, formerly a Hindu, came to be baptised last weekend. Most people I know who went forward at Festival Victoria were not enticed to go along by the marketing, but by friends, and that's how these events really work. The marketing is mainly to remind us Christians to get to work and invite our friends along...Sometimes we might see them as mass evangelism events, but really, they work most effectively as friendship evangelism on a large scale.

If you were to ask me if Festival Victoria was a success, I would say most definitely. 820 churches across the city getting together, thousands of volunteers from all denominations and thousands of people commiting or recommiting to Jesus...and for myself it was a time of mass spiritual growth. It wasn't about the music, giving prizes to kids, or checking out Telstra Dome. Sure these things make it fun, but lets remember the Holy Spirit's power in bringing people into a relationship with God through each and every one of us.

Gibbo » 28 May, 2005 9:43 PM

No you are not a Loony mate, but I dont know why you are hung up about a Christian Festival not being upfront about advetising. Most Churches in Victoria were supplied with the advertising material and it was up to them who they made the the material available to. Many many secular festivals advertises how heir festivals were family oriented and were safe. but many of them had people using drugs, violence and other nasty things that usually follow many secular music festivals. Do these people need to advertise that such things will occur at their festivals. Do nice Christians who choose to go to these festivals need to be hung-up about these evils happening because the organisers did not advertise them clearly? I dont think so. Festivla Victoria was a free event and everyone was invited, Guy Sebastian was there performing, many no-Christians went because of that, other non-Christians went because it was a free music festival. Dont be so hung -up about nothing, enjoy life!!!

Len » 24 June, 2005 2:22 PM

Hello from New York City. I was refreshed to read comments by thoughtful people here.

Christianity as it's practiced in the United States is a very different religion to the one I grew up with (England then Canada). While there are of course many compassionate and strong people of faith here, for the vast majority Christianity appears to be a political and social statement bundled with many other opinions.

If someone is a Southern Baptist, say, the chances are overwhelming that he is pro-war, pro-death penalty, against social services, against government subsidized health care and education and, of course, a Republican. I sat in a man's house this year who told me, "I believe in God and guns." (Come to think of it, this same person asked me how to move to Australia, because it was all white people.)

New York is definitely a haven still and there are other pockets of resistance I'm sure but it's pretty harsh out here.

Let me end on a happier note and direct you to an American Christian site and magazine, Sojourners, I guess a little political on the other side from looking at the front page, but some really fine writing and decent humans there.

Tom R » 1 October, 2005 5:21 PM

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