Mystery Worshipper: Rebirth2006
Location: Aljunied, Singapore
Date of visit: Saturday, 12 February 2011, 5:00pm
LifeUnited holds its service in an inner city warehouse building in a district called Aljunied to the east of the central business district in Singapore. The building looks like it was built in the 1970s and has two cargo lifts and a passenger lift to transport parishioners to a rented room on the fifth floor, where services are held.
LifeUnited was founded on 1 February 2011 and had its inaugural worship service on my first visit. The church was founded by senior pastor Darren Tan and his wife Angela, who together spent more than 20 years at another church, City Harvest Church. They had a vision to start a church to serve the young.
Aljunied is an industrial and residential district in Singapore, also known as Geylang. It is served by a train station of the same name, as well as many bus routes. Geylang is also known as an infamous red light district in Singapore.
Senior pastor Darren Tan was the preacher. Royston Tan and Jamie Lai were worship leaders.
What was the name of the service?LifeUnited Inaugural Worship Service.
How full was the building?
For the first service, I was amazed at how many people there were. The 100 seat sanctuary was packed full, and the foyer was turned into an overflow space where the service was recorded and broadcast using an iPhone!
Did anyone welcome you personally?
When I entered the building, there were many ushers who greeted the people who were arriving.
Was your pew comfortable?
We had those chairs that resemble classroom chairs, but they were relatively comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was extremely noisy, with people chatting in excitement, expectancy and anticipation.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to our first ever service!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Song lyrics were projected on the screen over computer generated imagery, whilst sermon points were projected using PowerPoint. Scriptural references were not projected, but it was refreshing to see people looking them up in their Bibles or on their phones!
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, two guitars, and an electronic drum kit.
Did anything distract you?
A few phones went off during the service, but the atmosphere was one of the least distracting I had been in as the room was very dim.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Extremely happy clappy. People clapped, raised hands, and spoke in tongues. One of the most interesting things, though, was that the opening set of upbeat songs involved a female cheerleading squad who had painted faces.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Pastor Darren was crisp, to the point, and illustrated his sermon clearly. One of the most impressive things was that he encouraged the congregation to challenge him as he would be putting his notes online.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon, entitled "God's Initiative", was the first in what will be a series on the abundant life. Pastor Darren took as his text John 10:10 ("The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full"). He made three points: God moved first; God's definition of abundant life; and God's pre-planned life for us. He concluded by quoting from John 17:3 ("Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent"). Jesus Christ is our tree of life.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
At the end of the sermon, we were given five minutes of meditation in response to God's abundant life for us. Also, because that service was two days before Valentine's Day, we were encouraged to spend some time tweeting to other people, showing our appreciation toward them.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Although the room was air-conditioned, Singapore's humidity plus the crowd of 100 worshippers meant that I was sweating profusely throughout the service.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A few people came and chatted to me, which I felt was a very warm and sincere welcome. There were also two photographers who came and took photos of us as well.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Ushers were handing out snacks such as cakes, tarts and pastries from the local bakery, along with cups of iced punch.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – LifeUnited seems off to a very good start. I was impressed and loved the connection that was among the people at this church.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, especially with the community and the wonderful sermon that emphasised the privilege of abundant life we receive as Christians.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The cheerleading squad and the five minutes of silent meditation.