Pentecost Festival shows off best of the church

London has seen an eclectic mix of events this last week, from swishing to dancing, to singing, to teaching, all in the name of celebrating the very best of the church on its birthday.

Thousands of people have taken part in this year’s Pentecost Festival, a Share Jesus International initiative that has become a firm favourite in the Christian events calendar.

Ten days of celebration culminated in a massive celebration at the O2 Arena last night, hosted by Holy Trinity Brompton, Hillsong and Jesus House.

Worship was led by the Jesus House Choir, Tim Hughes from HTB, and Hillsong’s Joel Houston and Pete Wilson.

Events at this year’s Pentecost Festival included Manga Bible workshops, ethical fashion shows, film screenings and exhibitions on the plight of Dalits in India, and worship and teaching seminars.

Women were treated to beauty therapy and pampering Christian-style at the Waterloo Action Centre, while tourists and locals out and about on the capital’s streets were pleasantly surprised byo dance flash mobs orchestrated by the Christian Dance Fellowship.

An overcast morning on the Saturday gave way to glorious sunshine for the crowds enjoying their lunch on the striped deckchairs in Victoria Embankment Gardens where they enjoyed live music sets by Christian artists David Bindon, DS Pickett, MC Tempo, Claire Welch, Luke Leighfield and Mesij.

Scripture Union offered passers-by prayers and a listening ear in their healing tent, while kids - young and old – enjoyed some good old fashioned fun with their giant Connect4 and Snakes and Ladders mat.

Christian Aid opened its doors to give people a sneak peek into what an international development agency looks like from the inside, and helped women rethink their approach to fashion and clothing with a ‘swishing’ party where they could reduce their carbon footprint by swapping clothes instead of buying new ones.

For Christians looking for a quick grasp on hot issues from a biblical perspective, seminars on new creationism, Jesus in cinema, and church growth in the UK were filled to capacity.

Researcher Peter Brierley challenged Christians to ask themselves where they saw their church five years from now and to come up with a strategy for growth.

He outlined the lessons that could be learned from the black-majority Pentecostal churches, which are growing the fastest in the UK.

These included clear goals and their more “aggressive” efforts to get newcomers involved in the life of the church.

“What priority do we give to the Great Commission?” he asked. “Take a risk and do something different.”

Methodist Church evangelist Jo Cox encouraged people to think about the agenda of moviemakers whenever watching films depicting Jesus.

She explored the depiction of Jesus and Judas in the music video for Lady Gaga’s latest song, “Judas”, saying it was “completely confused” and full of “biblical hooks”, whilst being at the same time “quasi-heresy”.

Referencing the song’s lyrics, she said: “When there aren’t the right connections, you end up with Jesus being my virtue but Judas being the one I cling to.”

She added: “[Lady Gaga’s] working out how to sell her message.”

Environmental scientist Paul Garner offered a defence of new creationism to a packed seminar room. He said that young earth scientists were coming up with good science that is being taken seriously by evolutionary scientists and even getting published in major science journals.

He stressed that evolutionary science was not a ridiculous theory that should be rubbished by Christians, but contended that new creationism offered a better explanation of the evidence and could challenge the “stranglehold on science” held by atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins.

“We are living increasingly in a world where the likes of Richard Dawkins are vocal and being given a platform in society to say that because of science you can no longer believe in ‘this’ and ‘this’ and ‘this’, and it’s just not true, and we’ve got to get that message out,” he said.

Pentecost Festival ends today with special church services across the capital offering a closer look at what Pentecost is all about and prayer meetings being held as part of the Global Day of Prayer today.