Mystery Worshipper: Peeb
Church: New Life Community Baptist
Location: Duncan, British Columbia, Canada
Date of visit: Sunday, 2 January 2011, 11:00am
White wooden church with large addition across the back. Beautiful park-like surroundings with the Cowichan River directly behind the property.
They have dozens of ministries all well described on their website. Of special interest are Life Groups – small groups that meet in people's homes "to work out what it means to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ" (quoting from their website). There are two services each Sunday.
Duncan is a small city located on Vancouver Island. It has a quaint downtown featuring a number of heritage and vintage buildings. There is a large First Nations (Canadian aboriginal) population.
The Revd Mark Buchanan, lead pastor; the Revd Rob Filgate, associate pastor. There was also a praise band consisting of piano, two guitars and drums.
What was the name of the service?Family Service
How full was the building?
Full, but it didn't fill up until about 15 minutes into the service, which is the usual drill in Baptist churches. The auditorium seats 500 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We arrived just as the earlier service was letting out, and those leaving greeted us as we were entering. Inside the door, an usher greeted us very warmly and a lady sitting at the visitors table said she believed she had not met us before. We gave our names and said we were from Nanaimo, in the central part of Vancouver Island. She mentioned a friend of hers who had been an associate pastor at our church in Nanaimo. We signed the guest book and then went into the auditorium. There, we were handed a bulletin and welcomed to the church by a gentleman who turned out to be Henry Widderink, the church's administration and finance officer.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable – theatre seats.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very friendly, noisy, with people visiting and talking. A regular Baptist pre-service. The praise team tuned up their instruments and then played and sang some music.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, New Life Church. Happy New Year. Greetings in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None – everything on the screen.
What musical instruments were played?
As mentioned above, piano, two guitars, and various drums.
Did anything distract you?
It was very distracting during the whole service to have the small children running all around the auditorium, laughing, screaming and crying.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was very joyful. Some people raised their hands in praise. I wouldn't call it extremely happy clappy, though.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – Pastor Mark's style was very conversational and approachable. He was also very emotional and committed to his message and to his calling.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was entitled "Is That the Best You've Got?" His text was Luke 10:38-42 (Jesus visits Mary and Martha). How good is "good enough"? If it is just your golf game, then fine, but for the service of the kingdom of God "good enough" is not good enough. If God is only a part of your life, but not the centre, it is not good enough. Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, letting his words sink in, while Martha busied herself in the kitchen. We need both Mary and Martha in the church to create beautiful harmony of our best that we can give to God.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The communion service. The associate pastor presided. He read the words of institution and then broke the loaf so that the congregation could see the symbolism. Then the elders each came forward and took the unleavened bread and wine, and we all went forward to receive communion.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The worship songs. They went on for 35 minutes despite the fact that most of the congregation seemed not to know them. Finally the praise band struck up one song that was familiar, but they rocked it in such a way that we couldn't follow the timing. And all the while, tiny children kept running up and down and screaming in the aisles.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People came up and talked to us. It is a very friendly congregation. No hanging around waiting for someone to speak to you.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
They were selling beautiful home-made muffins to raise money for the Children at Risk school in Mexico. There were several kinds of coffee available, along with home made muffins. Don't know about free trade.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – This is the kind of church to which I would definitely like to belong. All kinds of people attend here and nobody cares who is wearing what, or doing what, etc. They are a very joyful congregation. Many, many young people.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
Pastor Rob's thanksgiving for the emblems at communion.