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25: Assemblies of God, Aberdeen, Scotland
Other reports | Comment on this report
AOG King Street
Mystery Worshipper: Bookworm.
The church: Assemblies of God (AOG), King Street, Aberdeen.
Denomination: Pentecostal.
The building: A recently-cleaned, silver-granite, Gothic-arched church. Inside there is a wooden beamed ceiling, white walls and brightly coloured banners.
The neighbourhood: The church is very close to Pittodrie, Aberdeen Football Club's home ground. It is surrounded by student flats of both Aberdeen and Robert Gordon Universities – all granite buildings.
The cast: Rev. John Strachan (the church minister).
What was the name of the service?
Gospel service (in the evening).

How full was the building?
About two-thirds full, with mainly students and fortysomethings.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes – the minister (or pastor, to use AOG parlance), who was very kind and friendly. He asked where I was from, introduced me to some people and showed me to my seat. Pretty scary if I hadn't been a Christian.

Was your pew comfortable?
The church has 1970s plastic chairs with little shelves at the back for the hymnbooks. Not bad.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very cheerful and friendly. People were chatting, children were laughing and running about. It was very relaxing and not at all cliquey.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Where two or three are gathered, the Lord is there also, so let's all greet each other.' At this point, we all 'shared the peace'.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
'Making melody' hymnbook. An overhead projector displayed songs from 'Mission Praise'.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, drums, electric guitars, tambourines.

Did anything distract you?
A little boy kept running to the front of the stage to play with a colouring book... until his mother swiftly removed him!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Definitely happy-clappy – but not false or manipulated. The worship leader was so cheerful and the keyboard player so frenetic, one couldn't help feeling part of a 'joyful noise'!

Service Booklet

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7. The sermon was short and succinct. I felt it came from the heart.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The gospel is a testimony of what God has done for us. We are not expected to understand it, but we are always invited to accept it.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The beginning. It's so long since I've sung Pentecostal choruses, it really brightened my evening. I actually wanted to laugh: is this what being filled with the Spirit is about?

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Having to stand for a solid 30 minutes during the worship time. That sure made the cheerful feeling wear off!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Both of the women I sat next to invited me to stay for my tea. Then I was unexpectedly accosted by someone I know and had to swear him to secrecy about my incognito status!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea from an urn, a choice of coffee or orange juice, as well as cakes and biscuits – very good actually!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6. I'm just not cut out for charismatic churches, though they were all very friendly and made me feel welcome.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very much so. I felt I had an affinity with the people there, without knowing them.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
A pulpit worthy of 'Gadgets for God'! It had a purple perspex screen on the front, with the words 'Jesus is Lord' on it, and two bulbs behind it, spreading a gentle lilac glow into the room!

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