Here’s an interesting thought experiment. If you were seeking to create an ideal environment for a friend who’s interested in finding out more about this whole “Christianity thing” to learn about Jesus, what would you do? If you could craft from scratch your perfect context for someone to encounter the overwhelming love of God for the first time, what would that look like? What would you expose them to? What wouldn’t you?
I guess with so many churches and backgrounds within Catalyst, our instinctive answers to that question might be pretty varied. But even with that said, I reckon I know what you didn’t think. I bet the first thought that came to your mind wasn’t “I’d take them to an agricultural showground in Coventry”. Am I right?
But what if among all the stuff we love about the Catalyst Festival, what if there’s an aspect we’ve missed? What if we had confidence in the Festival as an evangelistic opportunity as well? As a potential game-changer in the lives of those just looking in, or just starting to come around our church community?
When it comes to the Festival, I reckon most us can see the potential if a non-christian friend was to come. It ticks a lot of boxes, right? They’d deepen relationships with our church family. They’d see up close the love between Christians that Jesus spoke of. Considering it’s camping and it’s a long weekend, they’d also see that Christians aren’t perfect and we mess up like everyone else! In main meetings, they’d see God’s people worshipping Him. They’d be in an environment where people are encountering God’s Spirit and they’d be hearing God’s word taught. I think it’s no exaggeration to believe that someone could conceivably make more progress in depth of relationship, depth of knowledge and depth of experience than in a literal month of Sundays.
But it’s the Catalyst Festival, right? I couldn’t bring them along, could I? We couldn’t bring that woman from the toddler group, that CAP client, that struggling friend who needs a weekend away, those three lairy students from our Alpha course, could we? Well what if you could? What if at the Festival there was something specifically for them? What if this year we pulled out the stops to make sure the Festival served well the guest you courageously included?
Well, come May, there’s going to be a new addition to the program. For the first time, the Catalyst Festival “Just Looking” stream will be available. No silver bullet and nothing snazzy, simply one small, stripped-back session each day exploring Jesus for those who don’t know Him. Laid-back, Jesus-heavy, non-pushy discussions to help them in their journey. Maybe you come with them. Maybe you help them explore. Maybe there are pastries. So if you were mulling inviting someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus, then alongside everything else the Festival has to offer, let the Just Looking track boost your confidence to go for it. Who knows what might happen…
Written by Rich Pitt