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J.John: We didn’t fill the stadium... but we had a go!

The vision for JustOne, was always ambitious: Gather 40,000 people for the first evangelistic stadium event in over 30 years.

After years of planning and preparation, J.John’s 'JustOne' event took place at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

23,000 people attended and 1,743 responded to the evangelistic message. Sam Hailes talks to J.John to find out more details about what happened and what the future holds for stadium evangelism 

So how did it go on Saturday?

Look, we had a go! That’s the important thing.

These last 20 years wherever we’ve been going around Britain we’ve been filling the largest indoor arenas and cathedrals. We felt it’s the time to step up. I really felt this was something God had asked us to do.

It’s obviously a big stadium. Someone said "oh well, you didn’t fill it". And I said, "well yeah. But nearly 24,000 people came. So it’s a good job we didn’t book the Royal Albert Hall – we would have needed five Royal Albert Halls! And good job we didn’t book the centre court at Wimbledon because that wouldn’t have been big enough either."

So in many ways it was very encouraging and we gather a quarter of a million people watched it on the internet, so that’s encouraging isn’t it?

What stories have you heard from those who attended about the impact of the event?

The stories are flooding in! We’re hearing stories of whole families coming to Christ, making significant steps in their journey of faith and prodigals coming back. All sorts of people from all walks of life. And that was our prayer. That if you were already a Christian you’d have a faith lift. And if you’re not yet, then hopefully Saturday helped you on your journey of faith.

After you spoke, you encouraged people to make a response. What exactly were people responding to?

In any kind of Christian event, even week by week at church we hear the sermon, we’re part of the service but we don’t necessarily make a response. The truth is we should all be making some kind of a response.

I gave people the opportunity 1) to receive Christ for the first time and 2) to recommit their lives to Christ. Actually, for many people recommitting their lives to Christ is almost like coming to Christ for the first time. If you rediscover him after many years that’s beautiful.

But I also encouraged people to investigate Christianity. So a lot of people who may not be in a position to receive Jesus but are actually so intrigued by what they’ve heard, they want to know more. So we encourage people to do one of two courses – Life Explored or Alpha.

Your team say 1,743 people filled out response cards. What will happens to those now?

We had a number of partner churches who worked with us on this. So we’re doing it by geography. Trying to integrate people into the next step is not easy. But we’re going to do our best by working with all the partner churches. Give them a warm welcome into those churches and inquirers courses. So we are snowed under at the moment processing all the responses!

You’re planning another JustOne event at Priestfield stadium in Gillingham next year. That venue has a capacity of 11,000. The capacity of Emirates was 60,000. So is it a case of scaling back?

No not at all. We felt we should start in London so we thought let’s start with an impressive stadium and then take it around the United Kingdom. We want to go to towns and cities. But Gillingham contacted us over a year ago and said we hear you’re doing stuff at the Emirates, we want one! Since Saturday I’ve had numerous enquiries from people all over Britain saying can we do one there.

Now there’s a lot of intrigue and interest and people thinking wouldn’t it be great if we did something like this. Because the last time anything like this took place was three generations ago with Billy Graham and Luis Palau - Mission England.

Have you learned any lessons from putting this on?

Oh, we have learned so much! You’ve got to remember that the people who organised Mission England are all people with great experience but they’re in their 80s or over. So a new generation of people have had to learn how to do it and organise it.

We’ve learned so much, which is great because we can take those lessons into other stadiums around Britain.

For more information about JustOne visit justone.co.uk

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