Ever since its foundation in 1979, Spring Harvest has been one of the highlights of the British evangelical calendar. Its ‘Main Event’ is an interdenominational and all-age residential gathering of Bible teaching, (modern) worship, workshops, relaxation and equipping the Church for action.
This event takes place annually over Easter and is now held at the Butlins resorts in Minehead and Skegness. This year there are three weeks at the former place (3-18 April) and two at the latter (6-16 April). Delegates would ordinarily attend for one week.
The first Spring Harvest, at Prestatyn, attracted 2,700 evangelical Christians. Peak attendance appears to have been 80,000 in 1991, since when numbers have dropped, although they are still not far short of 50,000 each year.
Spring Harvest is affiliated to the Evangelical Alliance, which will be working with Christian Research in 2010 on a faith survey among people attending the principal Christian festivals in the UK, including Spring Harvest.
Meanwhile, some insight into those who attend Spring Harvest can be gleaned from an online survey undertaken by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) in March 2009 among past and present attenders of Spring Harvest. There were 2,859 respondents.
Unsurprisingly, those who attend Spring Harvest are religiously committed. 81% have been Christians for more than ten years, against 11% who reply between three and ten years and 2% less than three years. 67% of Spring Harvesters are currently in some kind of church leadership role, mostly (60%) unpaid.
65% of those who frequent Spring Harvest are women and 35% men, similar to the gender imbalance among churchgoers as a whole. Only 7% of delegates are aged 18-25, despite the fact that Spring Harvest was started primarily as an umbrella body for young evangelicals. 10% are aged 26-35, 27% 36-45, 33% 46-55, 18% 56-65 and 5% over 65. The number of over-65s is very low in relation to their proportion in most churches.
44% of Spring Harvesters are in full-time paid employment and 29% work part-time. 7% are students and 12% retired. Denominationally, Anglicans (42%), Baptists (21%), Methodists (8%) and Free Evangelicals (8%) form the biggest contingents.
Besides demographics, most of the questions asked by LICC related to perspectives on and experiences of discipleship within the context of the Apprentice ‘09 event theme. Especially probed were the challenges to discipleship which occur in everyday life, notably at work and in the home, and the extent to which people feel equipped by their churches to deal with these challenges.
The questionnaire and results (including some breaks by gender, age, denomination, length of Christian allegiance and church leadership role) for this 2009 survey will be found at: