I’m oft amazed how few people know about the Soul Survivor summer festivals, or who know about the festivals but don’t know anything further about them as a Church and general Christian organisation. Or who know about them, but ascribe misconceptions to them in the plentiful. Here’s a standard conversation I just made up:
Me: “I just got back from Soul Survivor this year, it was great.”
Them: “Really? Isn’t it a really charismatic event? I thought you were reformed?”
Me: “Well, that’s a remarkably unhelpful dynamic you’ve interposed there. Actually not only can you be reformed and charismatic, but I’d argue that with certain definitions of both in place you should be reformed and charismatic.”
Them: “Sorry, I meant ‘I thought you were conservative, white, and British and thus terrified of any sort of emotional response to the Gospel’.”
Me: “Oh right, yes, well fair enough. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing”
Them: “Also, isn’t there a tendency to over emphasise the massive corporate event as opposed to the daily Christian walk as part of a local church.”
Me: “Gosh, that is a misconception, so much so that I should write a post on my website criticising it.”
Them: “I think that’s what you’re doing now.”
Me: “This is getting too surreal, I shall just trail off this sentence and switch back to full paragraphs…”
Two criticisms of Soul Survivor rebuked then:
They’re raving charismatics who think it’s all about singing songs.
This is actually two criticisms bundled into one, but seeing as that’s how people oft perceive it, it’s how I’ll respond. They are charismatic (in a certain defined sense of it) and they do love singing songs, but neither of these two things is necessarily a bad thing. Sure, if you place spiritual gifts over and above Jesus Christ, then you are made of fail. And if you place the main focus of a corporate meeting on singing songs and not on Jesus, you’ll see a similar colossal amount of failure. Fortunately Soul Survivor, as a festival, love Jesus far more than they love singing songs, or spiritual signs, and while I occasionally wince at some things, they are always all about Jesus.
They encourage an unhealthy spirituality with their emphasis on being very large.
Being a big summer festival, their nature is to be very large, and it would be rather easy to get carried away and go “this is what your spirituality should look like every day”. Of course, the problem with that is your local church is not 10,000 meeting in a large tent twice a day. And that’s an issue that they acknowledge every year from the stage and in seminars. If there’s one thing I’ve heard from the front in the last three or four years, aside from “Jesus is awesome” it’s been “love your local church”.
(full disclosure, I volunteer every year for Soul Survivor running the stewarding stuff, therefore I know lots of the people involved. I also think they’re awesome)