Mystery Worshipper: The Old Man from Scene 24
Church: Life Community Baptist
Location: Horsham, West Sussex, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 22 July 2012, 10:30am
They use a large, bright room at the Business and Enterprise Centre at the Forest Boys' School in Horsham. A modern building, businesslike yet fairly attractive.
The congregation was formed in 1993 as an offshoot of Brighton Road Baptist Church. From their website: they "seek to provide personal support to men, women, young people and children who are looking to find a meaning in today's complex society." They have mid-week life groups, run Sunday children's groups, and conduct extensive prayer activity.
The school is set in a sub-urban estate in Horsham near Millais Girls' School.
I didn't catch the name of the lady who conducted worship, but the Revd Julie Shimizu, minister, preached.
What was the name of the service?Sunday Service.
How full was the building?
About half full, say 40 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A few people said hello as I walked in, and when I took my seat my neighbour said hello also. She turned out to be one of the leaders of the church, a lady named Hilary Smith.
Was your pew comfortable?
Standard plastic chair, which was pretty comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Relaxed and informal, with some chatter.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Let us pray together before we begin."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None - the words to the worship songs were projected onto a wall.
What musical instruments were played?
An electric keyboard, electric guitar, and a pair of bongos!
Did anything distract you?
There was hardly anything to distract me, but if I'm really pushed, I did occasionally admire an impressive beard belonging to Wally Fahrer, one of the leaders.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was fairly happy-clappy, but not in your face. The church seemed to find the perfect pitch between passionate, yet not over enthusiastic.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – I was very impressed with the Revd Mrs Shimizu, as she delivered a confident and engaging sermon. She struck me as someone who was intelligent, unassuming, and passionate for God.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The vine! How we are called to bear fruit. In order to do so, we must remain connected with God. We are in danger of losing connection with God. Seek first the kingdom of God and we will be fruitful.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Several of the leaders introduced themselves to me after the service and they all appeared to be very genuine, warmhearted and very welcoming. The sermon was also very good very engaging. Despite it lasting almost 40 minutes, I wasn't bored or distracted at all.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Very difficult to fault the actual service, but they did meet in the grounds of the school I used to attend. I do not have pleasant memories of my school days!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was quickly scooped up by one of the leaders (Wally) and soon introduced to a couple more. I had a good conversation with all I met as I drank my coffee.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee was OK, but nothing special, served in a decent mug.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – I wouldn't describe myself as a Baptist, but this was such a lovely example of a Baptist church. I'd find it difficult to resist its charms if I was limited for choice.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
It did. I came away feeling I had met a lovely bunch of genuine, unassuming and dedicated Christians who were faithful to God.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The Revd Mrs Shimizu's sermon.