This year this Christian gathering in tents/caravans (apart from cowards in B&Bs) was held at the Newark & Notts showground. That's north if you're from Watford, south if you're from Durham, and familiar east midlands if, like me, you're from Nottingham.
Weather baking hot again (apart from the thunderstorm). Peatmans are getting a reputation for bringing good weather to NW gatherings. It was brilliant, if a bit exhausting.
Excellent time with church. You can't beat camping for a week with a load of people from church as a way of getting to know everyone much better. Only something like New Wine would provide the incentive to persuade most of them to do it.
Toilets plunged new depths. (quite proud of that tabloid-esque headline) I don't expect luxury, but a mobile wagon with a urinal not visible from outside would be nice. Apparently some people even had hot running water! Luckily there were better loos elsewhere on site.
Teaching patchy. Isn't it always at these things? Well, yes. Graham Cray did very good sessions on eschatology*, and the main morning Bible readings on Ephesians had good moments, although speaker tended to shout a bit too much. (and one morning diverted onto an evangelistic address based on John 19). The evening sessions were very variable, and at one point contained some interesting Christology* that wouldn't have passed at Chalcedon*. With such a large clientele, I just think it's important to seize the opportunity and you need to get those things right.
Chips with everything. could describe the diet on offer from the small number of food vans on-site. They were also let down with regard to an on-site shop, so fresh milk & other perishables were only enjoyed by those with refridgeration or in limited form later on.
The phrase was also once used by a high-church priest complaining about the prevalence of Diocesan* and Deanery* meetings including communion. Despite his theological preferences for communion daily, he felt this slavish adherence demeaned something important. Chips with everything sprang to mind again at New Wine, as lots of meetings seemed to find it hard to resist a 'time of ministry' (ie invocation of the Holy Spirit and offer of prayer/laying-on hands) at the end. I went to one session on bereavement, and the leaders bravely didn't offer such a time, although they did encourage people to stay and talk and pray if they wished. They acknowledged the need for some quiet reflection.
The work of the Spirit isn't a routine or a ritual, and yet, oddly, those very churches which claim to be spontaneous create their own new rituals with 'times of ministry'.
Excellent kids programme. Ok it does seem to involve a lot of revolting games with goo, food, etc. However, our kids love it, and if that means Christianity is a positive experience for them at this age, I'm more than happy. Jonathan (12) went to worship songwriting workshop for his age group, so look out for the album at Soul Survivor in 2012.
Radio. Following an appearance on New Wine Radio at Shepton Mallet 2 years ago on a late night 'grumpy old Christian men' type slot, I had fun with Dunx from our church who was running programmes this time. We did a spoof thought for the day from Reverend Lovejoy (Simpsons). Seemed to go down well with our group. No idea if anyone else was awake/listening/amused.
Pastoral. I always struggled to do this on CYFA Ventures, as I busied myself with the running of things. With no running to do (apart from a hike to the car park and drive to supermarket periodically) it was great to have so many conversations about almost anything. Maybe all this Chaplaining has helped.
Waitrose. Newark's got one. Result.
So, I don't like camping, and I still struggle with the "am I a charismatic or did I make it up" type questions, but it was still a week well spent.
*sorry about the technical theological speak. Kept the length down. Happy to provide a translation on request