One Community, Blackburn, Victoria, Australia


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: One Community
Location: Blackburn, Victoria, Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 22 September 2019, 10:30am

The building

Large complex of almost modern industrial appearance, coloured silver but with bright orange accents. The main auditorium is modern looking, with brown walls, orange chairs, a large stage, and lights hanging from exposed ceiling girders. There are no windows. There is a lovely large warm (it was a cold day!) entry space. There is also a large and popular café.

The church

They have lots of groups for people of all ages, all described on their website. I’ll just mention their money management group, which (quoting from their website) ‘seeks to enable people to use their money wisely.’ There are two contemporary services each Sunday in the auditorium, and a classic service in the much smaller chapel.

The neighborhood

Blackburn, a suburb of Melbourne, was built around an artificial lake. The area was a popular getaway destination in the 19th century and many artists captured the scenic vistas on canvas. Most of present-day Blackburn dates from after World War II. One Community Church is located in a middle to working class neighbourhood.

The cast

The service was led by two young women. The sermon was by a guy who did not appear to be a minister, as he kept talking about his day job.

What was the name of the service?

Contemporary Family Service.

How full was the building?

Full in reception, lounge areas half full inside – but it is quite a large auditorium space (their website says it seats 500). All ages were represented.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

There were several men outside directing traffic. I asked one of them where the entrance door was, and took me to the door and said, ‘Welcome.’

Was your pew comfortable?

Lovely padded modern chair.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Quiet inside the auditorium, buzzy outside.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

‘Welcome. Isn’t it great we have the freedom to worship together today?’

What books did the congregation use during the service?

No books. Everything was projected.

What musical instruments were played?

Keyboards, guitars, trumpet, drums.

Did anything distract you?

These were all positive distractions: The temperature in the room was very comfortable. I didn’t have very many people sitting around me near the front, and so did not feel hemmed in or crowded. No crying babies, no cute neighbours.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Leaning towards happy clappy, I guess. No formal liturgy, and very relaxed eucharist intro. I marveled at how smoothly and seamlessly everything seemed to run. The leaders seemed genuine in their worship.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

25 minutes, including a video.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

5 — Very relaxed, almost prosaic approach, clear and well presented concepts, supported by overhead images and video.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

About the concept of work-ism – letting our daily work/career define and identify us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Praise songs at the beginning.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

Nothing hellish, probably just a little too ‘worship lite’ for me. I'm used to a more traditional liturgy with corporate confession before communion.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

We were told a couple of times in the service that there was a welcome area for visitors, but when I walked outside I could not immediately spot it. Doing the obvious, I walked over to the barista, thinking it was probably close. He confirmed it was, and proceeded to make me a beautiful cappuccino. A name-badged lady came over to me shortly after and introduced herself for a chat. It emerged that we were both mums – I thought she looked a little tired!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Brilliant coffee.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

6 — Everyone was friendly and I enjoyed the music, but I prefer a more traditional service.

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 kind man in the car park and the amazing lounge/entry area.

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