20,000 Worshippers Can't Be Wrong

Updated 16:48PM, Friday June 8th, 2012 by Sam Hailes, Christian.co.uk 9 comments seperator

The 2012 Big Church Day Out was the biggest yet, 20,000 people gathered to join with some of the world's best loved Christian bands and artists, worshipping together as one.  At times the rain poured down but nothing could dampen the spirit of celebration.

Matt Redman

(c) Mikey Oldfield

With seven acts being flown in from America and Canada, the two-day celebration at Wiston House, Sussex proved to be excellent value for money.

While many of the artists had travelled thousands of miles to play at the event, The Big Church Day Out, now in its fourth year, remained a decidedly British occasion. With the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations happening in simultaneously in London, delegates entered into the entire nation's party atmosphere with ease.

As well as top music on the main stage, the marketplace, prayer room, Wiston church, UCB stage and tea tent all hosted extra events and artists including Tom & Olly, Cathy Burton, Guvna B and Iona

Saturday's main stage action kicked off with Lou Fellingham’s Phatfish leading worship. Based just a few miles down the road in Brighton, the band attended the day with their families. In an attempt to crush any "rock star" personas Phatfish may carry, Lou Fellingham later revealed her morning had consisted of making sure suncream, wipes and nappies were organised for her children, before jumping on stage with the band!

Mark Hall from Casting Crowns

(c) Mikey Oldfield

Rend Collective Experiment delighted the crowds with their set. Inviting the thousands gathered to worship with them, the Irish lads and lass played their folk version of Be Thou My Vision as well as fan favourite Movements and new song Build Your Kingdom Here.

The middle of the day was handed over to American artists Leeland, NewWorldSon, Phil Wickham, Newsboys and Big Church Day Out veteran Israel Houghton.

Pete Greig and Diane Louise Jordan introduced each act with their usual wit and energy. In between each main stage act the crowd did everything from praying for the Queen to crowd-surfing the event’s mascot Eunice the Ewe.

Worship Central

(c) Josh Hailes

While the audience were largely unfamiliar with Leeland and NewWorldSon’s music, they lapped up the Newsboys high energy performance. But the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for Israel Houghton, as despite the rain, people jumped, danced and sang along to hits including You Are Good and Say So. 

Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Nicki Fletcher along with the Worship Central band drew the evening to a close as the light rain turned heavy.

With Sunday’s program being almost entirely different to the day before, hundreds braved the weather and camped overnight, looking forward to another action packed day.

Despite awakening to a waterlogged campsite, spirits remained high as hundreds trekked back over the hill towards the main stage.

The cold and wet audience were thankful as the sun emerged just in time for a career-defining performance from LZ7. Playing all of their biggest hits and encouraging crowd participation, the band had their audience in the palm of their hand. Lindz West oozed energy both in his music and passionate plea for people to support the band’s evangelistic work. It was a phenomenal effort.

Phil Wickham

(c) Josh Hailes

Muyiwa brought his straight up gospel sound to the event and was very well received before one of the most anticipated acts of the day took to the stage.

'Liturgical post rock' probably isn't everyone's cup of tea but the beauty of the Big Church Day Out is there really is something for everyone. Gungor, fronted by husband and wife team Michael and Lisa Gungor, went down well with hardcore fans but left newcomers to their music a tad perplexed. You can’t fault the band for pushing the boundaries and writing fresh music, but sadly they never quite engaged with the majority of their audience. 

Phil Wickham was back for day two and played another outstanding set. Fresh off the release of Singalong 2 (a free acoustic album available from his website), Phil played a mixture of old and new songs with both a full band and as a solo singer with nothing but an acoustic guitar. Last year, Newsboys debut performance at the event went down so well, they were invited back for a second year. My prediction is history will repeat itself, this time with Phil Wickham.

Casting Crowns were next to play, and a large portion of the crowd sung along to their most well known songs including Courageous and Until The Whole World Hears.

The rain pours down

(c) Mikey Oldfield

Ex Delirious frontman Martin Smith treated the audience to plenty of new songs off his recent EPs. While most of his songs were new, he couldn’t resist throwing in the Delirious classic Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?, much to the delight of the thousands gathered. It was never going to be quite the same as 2009 when Delirious? headlined the first Big Church Day Out, but Smith’s band gave a convincing performance.

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Israel Houghton played another fantastic set before the event closed with Matt Redman leading everyone in worship. The world-renowned worship leader was also supported by LZ7 for a special rendition of their recent chart hit 27 Million. 

As the crowds departed, organiser of the event and former Delirious keyboard player Tim Jupp asked everyone to "bring a friend next year". According to Jupp, the site is only at half capacity. As an attendee every year I’m pleased to be able to report that the Big Church Day Out keeps on getting better and better. See you next year?


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All pictures (c) Josh Hailes & Mikey Oldfield


Writer, Christian.co.uk


Sam writes news, features and reviews exclusively for Christian.co.uk. The job involves meeting influential and interesting Christians from across the country and beyond. Most importantly, he never talks about himself in the third person.

This article was written and published by Sam Hailes for Christian.co.uk


20,000 Worshippers Can't Be Wrong Discussion

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Claire Musters
Claire Musters said...
June 8th, 2012 at 7:39PM • Reply

It was great - and my kids loved it too! Definitely want to go back next year...

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Luke Hughes-Bunger
Luke Hughes-Bunger said...
June 15th, 2012 at 1:12PM • Reply

Sounds like it was a great day... Just such a shame there wasn't a little more forethought regarding the date. 20,000 christians all together in one place, and not out in their communities for this once-in-a-lifetime "diamond" opportunity to invite people to a church event, like a Jubilee picnic or street party.

So sad that churches and individual Christians were forced to choose between worshipping together, at such a great event, and being involved in the Jubilee celebrations with their local communities.

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Sarah Kelly
Sarah Kelly said...
June 18th, 2012 at 1:10PM • Reply


There was A LOT of forethought that went into the dates. As someone who had to decide (I wouldn't say I was 'forced') what to do with my Jubilee weekend it was an easy choice. Many of my friends came to this event too (Christians and non Christians) and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. We prayed for our country, sang the national anthem, spoke highly of the Queen and this something I have never experienced before. I am pretty sure anyone who was there was not sad not to be at home with their communities because in many cases they were all there together. Especially as we could all do that on Monday or Tuesday as the celebrations were still going on when I got home.

Lets be positive and supportive of this event and excited for its future instead of being such a downer. You weren't there so you were able to do your thing and we did ours and I hope we both understand the importance of knowing when its time to rest and when its time to work the 'field'.

LOVE these photos and fantastic to see someone put such a positive spin on the wet weather :) I LOVED it and cannot wait for next year! Rain or shine it will be amazing.

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baggeeboy said...
June 18th, 2012 at 1:53PM

Enforcement of the walls around Christian ghettos is not something to be positive about. While our communities cry out 'Where's the Church?' our reply is 'In the grounds of a comfortable colonialist stately home building a subculture of our own.'

When we're given on a plate the chance to celebrate with our communities, we instead choose to abandon them and hand out with each other.

This was NOT about the Jubilee. OR about singing the National Anthem or proving our patriotism.

This was about the Church missing another opportunity to connect and celebrate with it's community, putting God at the centre.

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Claire Musters
Claire Musters said...
June 19th, 2012 at 1:02PM

I'm sorry I have to disagree entirely with that. I was able to go along to the BCDO and then enjoyed a street party with my road, of which I had been one of the main organisers and met lots of neighbours I hadn't really know before. We had neighbours, friends from pre-school, church friends and others at our party and it was a brilliant mix - everyone had a fab time. I have to agree with Sarah - there isn't a lot of point of slating the timing of an event (I too had been a little alarmed at the timing, especially as I went to the BCDO partly for work purposes). I was incredibly impressed at how well the event worked, and the fact we basically had the best of both worlds that weekend!

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Mark Atkins
Mark Atkins said...
June 22nd, 2012 at 11:35AM

Arguably there is nothing wrong with fellowship, unity (this was a multi-church/multi-denomination event) or extravagant praise in The Bible. This was one weekend out of the whole year and I'm sure that 99% of the churches or church members who attended BCDO are investing in their communities and reaching out and celebrating with them elsewhere. Of course there is also more that can be done in our communities! Always! Please continue to exhort people to serve their local communities but also do it in wisdom. "Enforcement of the walls around Christian ghettos" about a 48 hour event is a simply foolish and laughable statement to have made.

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Suzanne Coldman
Suzanne Coldman said...
June 20th, 2012 at 6:25PM • Reply

I had never heard of Gungor before BCDO. They were the best band!

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Dave said...
August 1st, 2012 at 10:17AM • Reply

I was a steward and I thought there was a great friendly feel to the day. Despite the tea tent getting drowned in a flash flood - cream teas were restored in due course :-)

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John Dingle
John Dingle said...
September 6th, 2012 at 1:55PM • Reply

"20,000 Worshippers Can't Be Wrong"? This would imply that 20,000 Muslims can't be wrong and that 20,000 Buddhists can't be wrong! Engage brain before writing headline!

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