Over the first May Bank Holiday weekend Kirsten and I, along with a team of volunteers, went to Eastbourne for a relatively new event called Bible by the Beach, where we serve in leading the work with 14-18 year olds. Bible by the Beach started in 2009 with the aim of providing a weekend of Bible teaching that would be easily accessible for people who live in the south east of England. Since then it has seen 6 fruitful years of strengthening and equipping the church to live for Jesus in 21st century Britain.
Nevertheless, I get the feeling that Bible by the Beach is often underestimated or overlooked as a great option for those seeking to spend time growing in their faith. If you are committed to growing as a Christian and you live south of the Watford Gap (or even if you don’t), you really need to think about getting you and your church along to Bible by the Beach, and here are three reasons why…
Bible by the Beach is committed to growing faith in Christ by faithful Bible teaching
Bible by the Beach is a weekend of Bible teaching about Jesus located in Eastbourne, on the south coast. It is not a beach mission, it is not just for people in Eastbourne, it is not limited to one particular demographic of society. Bible by the Beach exists to see people come to faith in Christ and grow in faith in Christ, and life-changing faithful Bible teaching is the primary means by which this happens at Bible by the Beach.
You might be thinking that there are a number of events, conferences and holidays that do this too, and therefore asking the question ‘what makes Bible by the Beach any different?’ The answer is: it’s no different. Like Word Alive, Keswick and other such events, Bible by the Beach is essentially seeking exactly the same end result as all these other options. In that sense, Bible by the Beach stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the other ‘big name’ events. This is a massive positive and a significant strength of Bible by the Beach, because it shows that the organisers care more about being faithful to Christ and his Word than they do about being a successful event.
That said, Bible by the Beach does have something to offer that these other events do not…
Bible by the Beach is cost effective in terms of both time and money
Unlike Word Alive, Keswick, Spring Harvest and such, Bible by the Beach takes place over the first May Bank Holiday weekend. This means that if you or members of your family are working a typical working week nine-to-five kind of job, then you do not need to take any holiday. Yes, you heard me right the first time. You and your family can have a weekend of Gospel input at Bible by the Beach without it eating into your annual leave (or your children’s school holidays for that matter). Personally, I think this reason alone gives Bible by the Beach a distinct advantage over its Christian-event peers.
But that is not all. Bible by the Beach is a steal at only £90 per adult and £12 (!) per child for the whole weekend. Obviosuly, as an event-only conference, you also have to factor into this your accommodation for the weekend. But this isn’t necessarily budget-breaking. Out of curiosity, I had a look online and worked out how much it would be to go to Bible by the Beach and stay in a 3 star hotel as a family of 4. The total cost, including full event passes? Under £500. Obviously, if you stay in a B+B, in a caravan, or at a camp site then the price then falls even more and brings it into the under £300 price band.
Bible by the Beach is a cost effective option – certainly for your wallet but undoubtedly for your calendar. And remember, this is a weekend where the return on whatever investment you make is intended to be an eternal one.
Bible by the Beach is an event for all ages and stages
Kirsten and I lead the work with 14-18s at Bible by the Beach, along with an invaluable team of volunteers. We’re part of a 50+ team of volunteers who oversee and lead the whole range of youth and children’s work at the event. Obviously, in one sense I have a bias towards commenting positively on the youth and children’s work at Bible by the Beach! However, it also means that I have an insider’s perspective on the work that goes on in this area at Bible by the Beach.
From the mess of hormones in the teenage groups through to the mess of nappies in the infant and preschool group, every group has one overarching aim: to teach and apply the Bible to young hearts and minds so that their faith in Christ would grow… and to have a great time as we do this. It is important to point out here that the leaders of all the youth and children’s groups work hard to make sure that both of these things happen, but in the right order. We value fun… lots of enjoyable, laugh out loud (and sometimes completely silly) fun. But the fun always serves the purpose of building up faith in Christ as we come alongside the young people in our care.
For adults, there is a range of seminar choices to suit most people, and the Bible readings are designed to help people from all backgrounds to dig into God’s word and hear his voice speaking to us. During these times, there is a rich and varied programme of youth and children’s work that exists to achieve the same aim as the main programme but in an age-appropriate way. The youth and children’s work at Bible by the Beach is in no way a child-minding service, it is a rigorous and healthy discipleship programme to help young believers meet Jesus and grow in their faith.
There’s lots more that could be said about Bible by the Beach, such as the beautiful (and nearly always pleasant, if not gorgeously sunny) location of Eastbourne, the integration of gathering with local churches into the event on Sunday, the invaluable yet transparent work of the technical teams, the welcome given by the stewards, the great atmosphere generated by a collective of believers, and so on.
Essentially, though, the only way to get a glimpse of how useful and helpful Bible by the Beach can be for you and your family is to book and come along. Just don’t assume that because Bible by the Beach is a shorter weekend it is any less of an event for it. Indeed, as we have seen, the opposite is true because you get high quality, rich, Gospel content packed into just one Bank Holiday weekend, which is great value for both your time and money.
For more information, head to the biblebythebeach.org website and take a look yourself.