I’ve just come back from a weekend away at the Black Stump christian music and arts festival near Sydney. It’s the 14th time we’ve been, and as usual, we return tired but satisfied. I won’t bore you with too many details, but one or two interesting thoughts are worth reporting.
What is Black Stump?
“Beyond the black stump” is an old Aussie expression meaning way out back, far from civilisation. The festival isn’t in fact all that far from Sydney, but it is in surviving bushland, and the event basically takes place under canvas, with most attendees camping out in somewhat primitive conditions.
We all go to hear bands, speakers, comedians and other artists, learn at seminars, mix with other christians and simply have a good, but exhausting, time.
Learning and encouragement
One of the best things about Stump is meeting christians from other backgrounds. For example:
- We hung out for a while in the Hip Hop tent, and met people who are part of a hip hop church in Sydney – christians in the hip hop scene ministering to others in that subculture, through events and communication relevant to that culture.
- We also spent some time talking with people from the Christian Surfers organisation, again sharing in a relevant way with a defined subculture.
- We shared in a Bible study of Philippians presented as a ‘dialogue’ featuring Paul (in Rome) and Clement (at Philippi), incorporating the text of the letter, with each reflecting on the circumstances of the matters addressed. The book came alive as a very human and personal letter, rather than simply a Biblical text to study. Wonderfully creative!
- Several Stumpers shared their experiences of ministering to the poor in Australia and slums overseas, supporting refugees in detention in Australia and trying to live sustainably in the city.
- We heard some speakers who shared their different perspectives on how we hear from God, suffering and lament and following Jesus in bringing the kingdom of God on earth.
These interactions with christians from different backgrounds were a real blessing, and something we would miss if we didn’t intentionally go out of the way to experience.
We should all get out more
What more can I say?
Some christians and some churches seem to want to keep everyone within the fold, perhaps afraid that venturing outside the tried and true of their own denomination might lead to questioning of their own particular doctrines and approaches. But surely the potential gains of learning from someone different far outweigh that ‘problem’?
Photo: Jazz-funk band, Soul Beats, playing in the Supper Club