13,000 Gather in Monterey, CA for the 'Spriit West Coast' Concerts

( [email protected] ) Jul 26, 2004 04:13 PM EDT

The second wave of the largest Californian Christian concert, "Spirit West Coast," ended on a high note on July 24, 2004 with over 13,000 gathered on the hilly grounds of Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California. Ever since 1996, the concert has taken place at the sunny California coast where Christian fans migrate every year.

This was the eighth annual 3-day event which featured artists performing some of the most popular Christian music in the hip-hop, vintage rock, ska and punk genres on two main stages.

After performances, the Laguna Seca grass area was overcrowded by fans who seek autographs from their favorite bands and high-profile artists, including the Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Jars of Clay and prolific Christian hit-maker Steven Curtis Chapman. Other Christian artists on the line-up were Kutless, By the Tree, Skillet, Thousand Foot Crutch and a dozen of others.

Speakers highlighting the event with essential messages were the evangelist speakers, Bob Lenz, Miles McPherson and Mike Silva.

According to John Robberson, the head coordinator and the festival's founder/producer, the music celebrated at these concerts, in other words Christian music, are distinguished by their meaningful lyrics. For the new generation, lyrics are the music's defining ingredient which will bring constructive changes.

"The music is not about having a broken heart or bad cops or 'the world sucks,'" Robberson said, "it's about 'your life could be better if you trust God to help you."

Speakers presented many views ranging from different denominations including Lutheran and Pentecostal.

"The purpose of the organization is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ," Robberson said, "and to provide people the opportunity to accept Him as their savior."

Furthermore, Robberson asserted, despite common belief, that the range of ages among those who attend the concerts are not just teens.

In addition to the two large outdoor musical stages, there were on-going activities and shows for other attendees including comedies, lectures, trampolines, rock-climbing walls, a basketball tournament, and even petting zoos and bounce houses for children.

Robberson emphasized that the purposes of the concerts was to challenge and present the message of Christ, avoiding the viewpoint of "converting" others.

"We're not just out here just to do music," Robberson explained, "but to challenge people to grow spiritually. We try and provide encouragement... We have teachings," Robberson said, "but we don't use the word 'convert.' We use the word 'challenge."

Like most concerts, one would expect the booths and vendors serving food for thousands and displaying T-shirts, Christian CDs, "Bush '04" apparel, temporary tattoos and jewelry. Part mall, part invitation to witness, the T-shirts and hats say everything from "I Mosh for Jesus" to "Hardcore Christian," "Religion Is Dead. Jesus Is Not" and, of course, "Jesus Freak."

Robberson encourages such Christian memorabilia as a means in providing support for the artists and speakers, and ultimately, the message of Jesus Christ, at these concerts. The Christian music scene, which is maturing into its 'adulthood' stage for the past 20 years, provides hope for people who always want "always want a positive message" amid the happenings in the world.