DEL MAR, Calif. Outside the glow of concert lights and beyond earshot of the main stage at Spirit West Coast, a small army of volunteers uses the lure of the music festival to minister to hundreds of music lovers from across California, Nevada and Arizona.
It's an aspect of the festival that Producer Jon Robberson finds especially rewarding.
"Regardless of the music style, the message of Jesus and His love permeates the music at Spirit West Coast," the festival's Web site boasts. "The message of faith in Christ is delivered in many other ways, always with the paramount purpose of impacting people with the gospel of Jesus Christ."
This year, that message of faith will be delivered May 23 to 25 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
One of the ways Robberson and his crew encourage ministry is with the nightly lineup of speakers and comedians.
Local treasure Dr. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, is a gifted speaker and preacher who has undergone his own transformation this past year after his wife, Carol, was diagnosed last summer with cancer. Carol is now in remission, and Garlow has become a driving force behind a new coalition of pastors committed to saving traditional marriage in California.
Shawn Mitchell, another prominent San Diego pastor, will also take the stage. Mitchell is the founding pastor of New Venture Christian Fellowship, an Oceanside church that ministers to thousands each week. Mitchell has also served as chaplain for the San Diego Chargers for 26 years. As a speaker, Mitchell has represented the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. His speaking engagements have led him to at least 18 countries over the past two decades.
David Nasser, a nationally recognized speaker whose message targets today's high-tech generation, will also headline. Nasser, who appears at revivals, citywide rallies, camps and school assemblies, speaks to about 700,000 annually. His ministry, David Nasser Outreach, specializes in mentoring and consulting.
Young adult twins Alex and Brett Harris are the founders of TheRebelution.com, one of the fastest growing Christian teen Web sites on the information highway. They also write, with their work published on Focus on the Family's online publication, Boundless Webzine. They are the main speakers for The Rebelution Tour. Many friends of Spirit West Coast are familiar with their older brother, Josh, the bestselling author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," "Boy Meets Girl," and "Sex is Not the Problem."
In addition this year's festival features some significant industry names including highly respected musicians Phil Joel, formerly of the Newsboys, and Todd Agnew, a deep-voiced crooner with lyrics that singe the heart. Agnew has become a crowd favorite because of his casual, sometimes-barefoot style and humble approach to worship. Since leaving the Newsboys, Joel has established his own ministry, Deliberate People, with his wife, Heather. He has also written books for children.
Rounding out the speaker's list is Aurelio Barreto, the founder of C28, a Southern California chain of youth-oriented Christian clothing, will bring his vast experience of starting a multimillion-dollar company, but walking away to pursue things of the Lord. Named for Colossians 2:8, there are now six stores with four additional franchise locations. The store also sells the popular Not of This World line of clothes and stickers.
Matt Pitt is an Alabama-based evangelist who started a church ministry with a handful of people in his basement. After outgrowing his home location and several other sites, The Basement Church now draws about 5,000 people a week, with small groups operating around the country. Through his dynamic Whosoever Ministries Pitt also speaks at school assemblies and produces popular human videos.
Those ministering with a comedic twist will be entertainers Bob Smiley, Taylor Mason, Ron McGehee and Rich Praytor.
The vast setting of the Del Mar Fairgrounds offer plenty of other personal ministry times, including altar calls, a group water baptism, evangelism training, new believers' classes, morning devotions and a prayer tent where volunteers intercede hourly for the festival and its thousands of visitors. According to SWC officials, nearly 4,000 people have committed their lives to the Lord through the Del Mar and Monterey festivals.
Because of its commitment to the family and fans of all ages, special attention is given to the children with their own area featuring special guests who entertain with puppetry, singing, illusion, juggling, all to share about the Lord. The festival also boasts numerous inflatables for children and teens.
To ensure ongoing ministry long after the festival, SWC also provides an exhibit hall where vendors will sell books, CDs, clothing, jewelry and other goodies. Several Christian colleges and nonprofits will also share information about their ministries.
Tickets for the festival are already on sale. Full-event wristband tickets are $103 until March 31. Junior tickets for ages 6 to 12 are $52. Group tickets, with 15 or more people, are discounted to $98.
One-day wristband tickets are $52 until March 31. Junior tickets for ages 6 to 12 are $34. Group tickets, with 15 or more people, are discounted to $49. Beginning April 1, the price of tickets will increase for full-event tickets from $ to $12. Military discounts are available. Gate tickets will also be higher.
A limited amount of reserved grandstand and VIP terrace tickets are also available. For more information on festival tickets, including service charges, and camping accommodations, visit www.spiritwestcoast.org or call (831) 443-5399.