My Friend Brian Morgante (http://www.myspace.com/brianmorgante) wrote this overview of what went down at the "Taking Back the Streets" Fest in Pilot Mountain, NC on August. 21st and 22nd. He did an excellent job and although it's a lengthy read, I believe it is well worth your time and I can attest to the fact that this was truly a very significant and incredibly special opportunity for those of us present. Thanks Brian! (Note: this picture rules but it's from The Call in DC not TBTS)
There is something new in the air. Something that seems to be stirring in small country towns, large over populated cities, overcrowded venues, and smelly 15 passenger vans. From coast to coast, from churches to bars, from friends to enemies, there is a spirit beginning to stir that cannot be contained, and cannot be denied.
Taking Back the Streets 2008 was scheduled to be a festival modeled closely to anything we may have attended this summer, or the summer prior. A large open space in the middle of no where, campers from around the country, stages with generators under tents, and all of the usual hype, community, worship, fun and ungodly heat that comes with most summer concert festivals. Old friends reacquainted. New friendships stirring under the blaze of the morning sun (or the midnight campfire). One last fun-filled gathering for the summer, and then on with the rest of the year.
At least that's what we all thought upon arrival. God had plans much bigger than our own, much bigger than we could imagine, to create an atmosphere, and let a new spirit and perspective fall that would make us all re-think the meaning behind the name of the festival we were partaking in. There was a vision to be poured out, a revival to be stirred, a hope to be revitalized, and a culture to be restored to its roots and its passion.
On both Thursday and Friday night, the evenings were concluded with a worship set by The Glorious Unseen. All other stages closed up for the night, and all attention focused on bringing everyone on the grounds together for communal worship, prayer, admittance, and restoration. We came expecting, and the Spirit of God came expecting so much more than we could have even begun to imagine. There was an undeniable fact that we would not leave this place unchanged. We would not leave a small campground in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina without a breath of fresh air in our lungs from our Creator. Something was about to explode, and you could feel it all around you.
After a beautiful worship set on the first night, Chad was called to speak a few words, and instead of mere preaching from a pulpit, it became a message brought down to everyone in attendance, as he left the stage, and asked us all to form a tight knit circle around him. Everyone gathered close, friends and strangers alike, we were called to be one body, as we listened intently. We all began to pray together, for one another, for ourselves, for our culture, for our church, and through this intimate time we began to openly make outward confessions to one another in this unified experience. One after another, we would cry out to our Lord, and cry out to our brothers and sisters of those things we grew tiresome within our lives. Begging for forgiveness from our attitudes, our complacency, our addictions, our denial, our hatred, our irresponsibility.
Cries were raised, and some people smiled, as others wept openly. Strangers embraced, while close friends made amends. There was restoration in the air, and there was a spirit of forgiveness all around. We were ready to be filled with something new and beautiful that would transform us into the people that we knew we have been called to be. The people that we know we should be in each and every moment of our existence. Communion was served, and became a body of thanksgiving, singing songs of praise and redemption to our creator in one unified voice, still in our circle, with nothing more than Ben leading from an acoustic guitar and handclaps that rose loud and proud to our Father in heaven, who was smiling down upon us. Praise be to the Lord of forgiveness, the Father of love, and the Redeemer of our souls.
With a rejuvenation flowing through the festival from the night before, spirits were high, and expectant as the festival continued on. Worship was slated again for 10:30 on the main stage, and we were eager to come together once again to give praise to our Father. After a long day of honest and beautiful music, the Spirit was already starting to prepare hearts for what was coming. We knew that tonight was the night we would be changed and challenged in ways we never could have imagined.
Once again, an absolutely beautiful and honest worship set as people really set in to discover the heart of their Savior, really anchor themselves to a spirit that was so graciously arriving to sweep us away on that Friday night. As the music itself began to wind down, Tommy from Sleeping Giant came up and began to pray for the body, and Chad directed that in prayer before worship had begun, God had revealed that we were to go to the top of the hill in which we were at the bottom of, together, as one body, and begin to earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon us in ways we never thought possible. Tonight was the night chains would be broken. Tonight was the night we would dream dreams, and have visions, and feel the undeniable presence of a Spirit that Christ himself promised would be instilled in us. Hands were latched, and we spread into an enormous circle. Leaders were spread out and every individual was prayed for and together with to see a Spirit become prevalent in our lives, and demand a radical change to our lives. As we cried out, His presence reigned down in a way that I, personally, have not seen in ages, but gave all the signs that something big was about to happen, something so much bigger than I feel myself, or anyone there even realized as the night began.
Kids and adults alike, began to sweep across the circle, praying for any and everyone. This was unity. There was no hesitation as strangers spoke into the lives of fellow brothers, and encouraged, discerned, and embraced one another. Relationship through unity made us all closer than we could have ever imagined, and there were no inhibitions as we cried out as one. The focus was the Spirit, and there was an authenticity in the words and tears and laughs and confessions of each and every person present. There were no more shows, or talk of who did amazing that night. There was no more focus on status, or reputation, band or fan, old or young, new faith or seasoned warrior. It was about love, consolation, healing, restoration, uprising, radicalism, movement, and change. We would not leave until we knew one hundred percent that His Spirit had met with us, and had moved through us, radically transforming who and what we were, and who and what we were to become!
There was an invitation to be filled with the Holy Spirit, an invitation that is not usually given to many people you find involved in our culture. A culture that has abandoned conventional church, and people that have come to a festival maybe not evening knowing what the act of being filled with the Spirit entailed. There was an earnest understanding of the power that was about to be unleashed, as it was accepted and welcomed. People eager to learn and understand and be filled stepped forth, as those who have experienced what was going on began to welcome this Spirit to fall, welcome this Spirit to fill these open hearts and minds, these surrendered lives to the power of the Most High. At this point, everything changed, and became so much bigger than we expected!
Gifts were poured out almost instantly, and we began to see outward evidence of what the Spirit was beginning to do within individuals, as well as the body. People were slain in the Spirit, collapsing literally under the full surrender of themselves to the Spirit. Tongues were spoken in an orderly fashion, one at a time, as others openly interpreted the intimate messages to the body. We began to see healing, and words of knowledge and truth spoken out. With such innocence reigning in this obedient body, we saw an authentic move on the Spirit in a large group of people, many of us, for the very first time in our lives. We saw the REAL power of the gifts, and we experienced the most intimate love our human-ness is able to experience.
Hours passed, and there was a rejuvenation poured out upon us through this revival, and as things were winding down emotionally, we knew this was more than hype. We knew this was more than a feel good mountain experience. We knew this wasn't a revitalization that would keep a smile on our face for a mere moment and fade as we all went our separate ways. This was a call of knowledge, a call of responsibility, a call to radical change in our individual lives, homes, churches, towns, cities, communities. With understanding comes the responsibility to grow that. To spread passion from person to person and create a unity in what the Lord is trying to tell us each and every day. We knew without a shadow of a doubt we were given something special, that would be spread to the farthest corners of our country and our world, and new wondrous things instilled within us that would give us a peace and foundation to many of our questioned beliefs. There is no denying we experienced the power of almighty God, and we would return home to instill this new revival to those around us.
Be alert to what is happening. Be a voice of truth and discernment in all that you do and everywhere that you go. There is something new stirring, and God is ready to use the willing to bring forth truth in our culture, in our church body, in our relationships, and in our lives once again. God willing we will be obedient to that small still whisper he is pleading with us to recognize once again. Praise be to Him!