Mystery Worshipper: Rebirth2006
Church: Heart of God
Location: Paya Lebar, Singapore
Date of visit: Sunday, 13 February 2011, 3:00pm
The church is in the headquarters building of the Singapore Post, where they rent space on the 12th floor that is accessible by two capsule lifts. The 1,000 seat sanctuary has a unique cross shape and has a bookstore and cafe at the back. On weekdays, it is converted into a youth centre for young people to hang out and study.
About 85 per cent of the people here are under 30 years old. It considers itself as a youth church with about 2,000 attendees at both Saturday and Sunday services.
Paya Lebar means "wide swamp" in Malay, and that's exactly what this region once was. Today the area is undergoing massive redevelopment. In addition to the Singapore Post, there are hundreds of offices, workshops, and small retail outlets. It is accessible by two train lines.
The Revd Tan Seow How, senior pastor.
What was the name of the service?Sunday Service.
How full was the building?
I arrived half an hour early and the room was already three-quarters full with teenagers chatting to their friends.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
About three or four ushers greeted me and chatted to me in a spontaneous manner. I was amazed that they were able to spot a newcomer even though the room held about 1000 people! We also had three minutes after praise and worship to chat to the people around us.
Was your pew comfortable?
We sat on multicolored padded seats that were different for each of the six sections in the room.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Boisterously loud, with many teenagers happily catching up. There were three screens at the front with people's tweets about attending service at this church, which I thought was a very clever and innovative method of virtual communication as compared to verbal.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good afternoon, Church! Let's praise the Lord!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Song lyrics, Bible verses and sermon notes were projected on three screens above the stage, superimposed on colourful computer generated images. Many people were using their phones to jot down sermon notes.
What musical instruments were played?
Two keyboards, three guitars, bass drums, six singers, and a 15 strong choir.
Did anything distract you?
During the singing of upbeat songs, there were many flashing lights, and people were bouncing up and down continuously, which made me a bit giddy.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The music was extremely, extremely loud and noisy, just like being in a rock concert! People were bouncing up and down, raising hands and speaking in tongues.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
About an hour.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Pastor Tan Seow How's sermon was crisp, yet serious. It was a very detailed and well talked through sermon. I was amazed that the teenagers who were attending the service were able to understand what he was speaking about.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The importance of one of the church's core values, unity. There are seven pillars of unity: the Word of God, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, praise and worship, tithing and giving, and ministry. He mentioned several things that people struggle with, and asked us to raise our hands if any of them applied to us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Seeing teenagers being wholeheartedly devoted to the worship of God really touched my heart. I was also touched by the sermon response, where Pastor How asked us to turn around and face the back, encouraging us not to let the worship team, lighting or multimedia be a distraction. Tears welled in my eyes during that very point of the service.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Although it was a very powerful service where people weren't in a rush to go anywhere, I felt that the service dragged on for too long, starting at 3.00pm and ending two and one-half hours later. Way too long for my liking.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
One of the ushers who had talked to me earlier asked me to come to the information counter. There, I filled in a connections card about the church and a survey asking if I had enjoyed the service. The usher told me that he would keep in touch. As a result, I rated the survey very positively.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There were drinks for purchase from a vending machine at the back of the room.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I wasn't already attached to a church in Singapore, I would definitely make this my regular. I felt that many young people were drawn to this church because of their desire to build strong relationships, which has been an incredible attribute of Heart of God Church.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. I was deeply encouraged to see many young people enthusiastic in the worship of God and their determined connection towards other people.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
Being spotted as a newcomer in a 1,000 seat room, and the sermon response through worship.