Westbourne Baptist London

Westbourne Park Baptist, London


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Westbourne Park Baptist
Location: London
Date of visit: Sunday, 24 April 2011, 7:00pm

The building

The building was bombed during the Second World War and had to be rebuilt, and so is a fairly modern built church with a high, narrow, blue spike on the top. The worship space has grey-green carpeting and a high roof, and includes an area where baptisms are held. There are clear glass windows at both sides, and at the entrance there are modern coloured windows on the left. There are lots of round lights above the service area, some pure white and some light yellow. There is also a biggish basement area where various Christian groups can meet as well as have meals. Also, several times a week that area is open for pre-school children. There are many rooms going up on the right side of the church where the offices are and where groups may meet.

The church

There are at least 30 nationalities represented in the membership. The church is connected to Cell UK, which advocates the formation of dynamic small groups.

The neighborhood

The area takes its name from the tube station on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines. It is a mix of privately owned homes, council housing and shops. The church is just beside the tube station, near the canal, and close to the Porchester Library and Porchester Centre for swimming and exercising.

The cast

The Revd Steve Latham, senior pastor, led the service. He asked some of the assistant pastors to say some welcoming words in Brazilian Portuguese, Tagalog and Arabic.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Evening Worship.

How full was the building?

Very full - adults and children, people from all over the world, probably 200 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

We arrived early and explored around the place on our own. But as soon as we entered the ground floor main worship area, Pastor Steve Latham came to us and shook our hands, introduced himself, and welcomed us.

Was your pew comfortable?

It was a very comfortable seat, padded in the same green-grey colour as the carpet.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

It was noisy! The musicians were setting up and practising. Lots of people arrived and chatted loudly. Many children were running and dancing around and shouting. Just before the service started, the pastor asked the children to stop their playing and to be quiet, and everyone became silent.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good evening. Welcome to our service! Happy Easter! May the resurrection of Jesus lift you up!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?

None. Everything was projected via PowerPoint. Readings were from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

What musical instruments were played?

Two electronic pianos, two guitars, drums.

Did anything distract you?

The beautiful multi-cultural clothes many people wore.

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

Very happy-clappy, with lots of hands being raised up and people moving in time with the worship music. There was also a performance where a group of wonderful people dressed in white and black re-enacted Christ's passion, death and resurrection in interpretive dance. It was all very dramatic and very well done. It climaxed in the song "We will live forever with Jesus" with everyone clapping and dancing around the risen Christ as they proclaimed, "He is alive! Alleluia!"

Exactly how long was the sermon?

25 minutes.

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

9 – The pastor's text was Matthew 28 (Jesus commissions the Eleven after his resurrection). He spoke clearly and with positive conviction.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Jesus' death and resurrection has changed everything. Many people are drawn to a life of sin because of sadness and depression, but sin always leads to disillusion and disappointment. Jesus broke the power that puts us down. He defeated death. The angel said to the women at the tomb, "Do not be afraid," and Jesus told his disciples the same thing. So whatever in our lives we may be afraid of, remember what they said, and do not carry that fear into our hearts. Jesus took away all our guilt and sin, all on the cross, and set us free. Jesus will help us. We must go on a journey with Jesus and see him with spiritual eyes. He is always with us and always loves us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The interpretive dancing really encouraged feelings of happiness and love of God.

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

Once, for about only one minute, there was so much clapping that I could not hear the singers!

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

Quite a few people shook my hand and said, "Happy Easter! God bless you!"

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There was nothing in the church, but several of us were invited to the home of a person who lived near the church. That was very kind.

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

8 – If I lived near this church I'd definitely come regularly to decide whether to belong.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes! Everything I experienced in the service made me feel happy to be a Christian. It was so wonderful to meet Christians from all over the world.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

How completely this service made me feel that Jesus is alive. I've never experienced such a one!

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