Mystery Worshipper: Whoopedoo
Church: City Harvest
Date of visit: Sunday, 8 March 2009, 10:00am
They meet in Singapore Expo, a group of ten large multipurpose halls in the eastern part of Singapore, one of the largest and most completely equipped exposition centres in all of Asia. They also have their own church building in Singapore's Jurong West neighbourhood.
This is the church with the largest attendance in Singapore, with reported figures of 28,000 per week on average. They conduct dozens of ministries, outreaches and other activities, all listed on their website. Of special note is their school of theology. There are two English language services on Saturdays and two on Sundays, as well as services in Chinese and Tamil. They also put on special services for children.
Singapore Expo is located close to Changi International Airport and is easily reached by bus or train. Flavours East, a collection of 16 restaurants featuring cuisines ranging from North Indian to Thai to traditional Chinese, is located within. Besides City Harvest, one other megachurch uses Singapore Expo.
The worship leaders were Teo Poh Heng and Annabel Soh. The service minister was executive pastor Derek Dunn. Tan Ye Peng, deputy senior pastor, preached.
What was the name of the service?English Worship Service.
How full was the building?
They met in Singapore Expo's Hall 1, which can hold about 10,000 and was about 85 percent full. The ushers were careful to make sure that each open section was filled to capacity before opening up new sections. The two unused sections were unlit and the cameras carefully avoided capturing them.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The ushers showed me to a seat where the news bulletin was laid out on the chair. The pastor announced a three minute greeting time (with a countdown clock projected on screen) during which people in the congregation were to greet those seated next to them. The person next to me introduced herself, exchanged phone numbers with me, and promised to follow up to get someone to invite me to a cell group. (Which they did promptly within 13 days.)
Was your pew comfortable?
It was a basic padded stackable auditorium chair of the type found at indoor concerts.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The was a lot of buzz with everyone talking to one another or walking into the hall.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
Unfortunately the acoustics where I was seated (right at the side), coupled with the pastor's accent (American/Irish) and the heavy pre-service buzz, made it unintelligible. The only word I recognised was "Hallelujah."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
There weren't any books. The service was captured by (as best as I could see and count) at least six broadcast cameras (including one on a crane) and projected onto eight large screens and four wide screen video monitors for the congregation to view. Lyrics were superimposed.
What musical instruments were played?
Two digital keyboards, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass and percussion. There was a worship leader, eight backup singers, and a choir of over 70 members.
Did anything distract you?
One of the guitar players wore a t-shirt with the word "Nirvana" on it. I couldn't help but wonder whether that was appropriate in a church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Like a really slick professional concert. The songs were sung with heartfelt emotion and energy.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The sermon was like a study of the origin and spelling of various words in the Bible. From this Pastor Tan was able to extrapolate a sermon message.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Hebrew words for both male and female consist of the letters in the word for fire plus one additional letter. Those additional letters form a part of the word for God. In short, a couple must learn to come to agreement to have God come into their midst.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The worship was the best part of the service. There was a very good selection of music with lyrics that declared the glory of God and his church.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
A video was shown asking for volunteers for an upcoming church musical. The acting in the video was corny.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No one really looked at me as everyone made their way out of the hall.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee, just water from a dispenser and a stack of paper cones available to help oneself to a drink.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – The worship was especially uplifting and moving. I felt joined with the whole congregation as they sang with sincerity, genuineness and in unity.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The Hebrew spelling lesson on the words for male, female, fire and God.