posted Jul 25, 2016, 12:45 AM by Bethany Austin   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 9:26 AM by Kirsty O'Grady ]
It’s that time of year again, the sun is out, calves are out, gardens are beginning to take shape again, walking into church you are greeted with a drop in temperature (actually that’s true all year, it’s just that it’s pleasant when it’s like this!). But it is not just the weather that marks this season as strange. Take a look around the church and you’ll see. The Sunday morning service music has been led on the organ; this can mean only one thing: Keswick! Take a peek in the south transept; you will see piles of camping equipment from the tower which have been cleaned, counted, and checked; this too can mean only one thing: New wine! Hang around Janice for long enough and you’ll hear all about a mad rush for permission slips before Wednesday; this also can mean only one thing: Soul Survivor!
So why is it that so many of us head various distances across the country to go to these summer conventions, gatherings, and festivals? 
One key thing to notice is that we usually go together, and even when we don’t we meet people there. If you pick up a Bible and start reading from the beginning, you’ll notice that everything is “good” to start off with, but keep reading and you soon arrive at a “not good” (go on, I’ll wait). 
That’s right, Genesis 2:18 has the first “not good” of the Bible with “it is not good for man to be alone”. One key thing that summer gatherings (or in fact any extended time together as a church) do, is to remind us not only of this, but of how good it is to be together. When we come together we are reminded of the goodness of being together. Of our faith’s roots in an actual family who actually lived in the actual middle east, and of our calling to be part of God’s family. It all feels very real when you are seeing your brothers and sisters every single day; this reality, in the arguments and heart to hearts with which extended time replaces polite nods and small talk, brings us closer together, and points us all towards the real God!
It’s a chance to learn from some very well learned people as well. Where else can you get so many people with so much knowledge about God together talk to non-academics like us? We go to these places to hear about God from lots of different angles, and it’s there back in our churches too, as we gather for lunch or tea or cocoa and talk about things we’ve heard in seminars and try to make sense of them as a church.
There’s something incredible about worshipping, singing, praying together as thousands. There’s something so special about singing along to very talented and skilled musicians, and being led by such spirit-soaked leaders. There’s something exciting about seeing people come to faith every day. There’s something comforting about not being in the minority. 
There are so many reasons why we go to summer festivals, but mainly it’s the same reason we do most things: to love, worship, and encounter God.