If I didn't know the folks who manage Winterfest, I would have been tempted to think this year's theme was manipulated: Like, they caved to the pressure of the ultra-conservatives. Like, Winterfest was hijacked.
Over the years, I've spent hours and hours with Dudley and the Winterfest group. In years gone bye, I've helped unload the moving truck with the stage gear, I've packed literally tens of thousands of Winterfest tee shirts into the "potato-sacks" for youth groups, I've stuffed the materials into the youth leaders' packets till the midnight hour... and I've eaten many meals with Dudley and his crew after unpacking and setting up. I had the full access backstage passes, I've been in the "green room" eating with Jeff Walling up in the mezzanine!
I've been around the block with the Winterfest inner circle. Okay, as a volunteer, I doubt these guys could pick me out in a crowd. But hey, I felt special :-)
I say all this to say, I know that this year's thematic content was genuine and not something that anyone was pressured into -- but the theme and presentations all seemed so unlike what you'd expect in a "youth rally" of Winterfest proportions. Why? This year was definitely "old school."
How so? Instead of the praise groups like Acapella or Watershed, with mouth-percussionists and several parts being sung, we had one single song leader.... and he had gray hair (gasp)! For crying out loud, Jeff Walling gave a history lesson on the Cane Ridge Revival! And, Patrick Mead didn't use a single video or PowerPoint in his presentation. It was as if this Winterfest was dialed into a different frequency, an Oldies station to be exact.
The 2014 theme of Winterfest was titled "Weave" and it was well done. Basically, "Weave" was the metaphor of a tapestry being woven together with the application the church is made up of all ages... and kids, don't give up on church when it's not as cool as the youth group.
I love Winterfest, and I think it was a great experience this year. I hope the youth (and chaperones too) appreciated the subtle message that was sprinkled throughout the weekend: Church isn't all about you. It's not about you, or your preference. Church is about God, and we need to lead people to Him, and aim for unity along the way. If that seed takes root in our youth, and the next generation can overcome the turmoil this generation has had over "worship wars" then the evening train might not be too late.