Mystery Worshipper: Storage Jars!
Church: Rosalie Baptist
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 31 August 2008, 10:30am
A two level modern brick building next to an older building that may have been their first church and appears still to have a function as a meeting place. The church uses the upstairs part of the new building. Inside, it is well-lit and carpeted, with 10 to 12 rows of old-style wood carvings and pews, possibly taken from the earlier building. There is a sound console at the back that appeared to be of good quality. A small plain lectern sits in mid front, with a piano to its left.
Rosalie comprises a range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds. They hold a morning and evening worship service each Sunday, as well as Sunday school and adult Bible classes. Women's fellowship and church fellowship groups meet each Wednesday. They broadcast a series entitled A Moment of Your Time on the Australian Christian television channel. I also seemed to gather that they participate in local ministries in conjunction with other Baptist churches in the area.
Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland and distinguishes itself from other large Australian cities in that most of its housing stock consists of detached houses, many built in a distinctive architectural style known as Queenslander. The city enjoys dry, mild winters, although summers tend to be hot and humid. Brisbane is one of the major business hubs in Australia. Rosalie Baptist Church is set in a pleasant, unremarkable neighbourhood on Brisbane's north side; the surrounding area is comfortably middle-class.
The Revd Russell Matthews, pastor, led the service. A lay member known only as Shane read the notices and led some of the prayers.
What was the name of the service?Morning Worship.
How full was the building?
About one-third to one-half full in a room with a capacity of about 110.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. The pastor greeted me at my seat and chatted briefly. He seemed very friendly and welcoming – we were off to a good start!
Was your pew comfortable?
Very. Old-style pews but made tolerable by the addition of well-cushioned upholstery on the back and bottom. Thank goodness, no sore bum today!
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Peaceful. People were sitting quietly. There was some conversation near the door.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning!" This was followed by a greeting to the congregation and to visitors.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books were provided. People used their own Bibles to follow the scriptural passages referred to.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
Occasional faint traffic sounds could be heard through the open doors. There were some delays while glitches with the microphones were sorted out. And I was hungry – breakfast was a long time ago!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle of the road worship. Good impassioned singing, with some people more impassioned than others. The songs were a mixture of modern and traditional. Otherwise mostly low-key, a little reserved. Everyone appeared attentive and actively engaged in the worship. They did not celebrate communion on the day I attended.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The pastor spoke animatedly and was quite interesting. He adequately shared his convictions and did an admirable job of inspiring us. That's what I look for in a sermon anyway.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He spoke on Mark 12:18-27 (Jesus rebukes the Sadducees, who tried to trip him up with a question about the resurrection). The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection on the last day (nor do most Australians, although the majority of Americans do) and did not accept any books of scripture except the first five. But if there's no resurrection, then it's all a waste of time! God is the God of the living, not of the dead.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Definitely the last hymn – wish I could remember its name. Basically it was an affirmation of our faith. A lovely melody, sung with real feeling. Wonderful.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I had set out very early that morning and had eaten nothing since breakfast. By the end of the sermon my hunger was starting to catch up with me! Maybe it could have been a few minutes shorter?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
As usual, people gravitated toward others they knew for a chinwag. I was approached by the prayer leader and had a good informative chat about the other services of the church on offer. The pastor also introduced me to others.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I had missed morning tea, which was held in the interval between Sunday school and the worship service. There was some indication of a cuppa being available after morning worship, but it wasn't really clear where.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I really enjoyed this church and would like to return. I didn't feel excluded and found that the smaller size gave it more of a feel of everyone being part of one Christian family. Which we are, right?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes! God's family is everywhere, and it's so good being able to walk into a church anywhere and feel a part of that community, even if only for an hour. I'll be recommending this place to some people I know.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The sermon. It reminded me that all our lives have purpose, plus there is something wonderful beyond our comprehension waiting in the next life.