Ship of Fools
  Bulletin Boards
  Mystery Worshipper
  Caption Competition
  Gadgets for God
  The Fruitcake Zone
  Signs & Blunders
  Born Twice
  About Ship of Fools
  Support us!
  Contact us!
103: Stoneleigh Bible Week, Coventry, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
Stoneleigh Bible Week congregation
Mystery Worshipper: Polycarp the Elder.
The church: Stoneleigh Bible Week, Coventry, England (not a single church, but actually 200 different churches – mostly from the UK).
Denomination: New Frontiers International.
The building: A cattle shed, because the Bible Week is held in the National Agricultural Centre. The main meeting is in a large hall that for 50 weeks of the year is an actual cattle shed (with real cows... and the rest!). The hall, which holds 8,000 people, is suitably washed down and cleaned up with carpets and chairs and the odd banner added with a large stage at the front.
The neighbourhood: The next-door building (an exhibition hall) holds an overflow of 4,000 people in relative comfort. The Natioanl Agricultural Centre is on the edge of Coventry.
The cast: The preacher was Terry Virgo. Others taking part included Simon Petit, Dave Holden, Dave Devenish and Duncan Watkinson.
What was the name of the service?
7.00pm Evening Meeting.

How full was the building?
The main hall (the cattle shed) was packed with virtually no free seats. The exhibition hall (technically the "overflow") was about 70 per cent full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Several stewards on the way in and the people we sat next to spoke to us.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not so much a pew as a burgundy-coloured folding plastic chair – not that comfy, quite squeaky and quite closely packed in.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Buzzing! The sheer number of people was overwhelming. Most were wearing shorts and t-shirts because of the hot weather. The band were playing before the meeting started with lots of people joining in.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Would you like to stand up and find a seat... ohh errr... everyone stand near a seat."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books. All the words for the songs, plus some announcements, were on close circuit TV monitors and video walls around the room. Most people at the meeting brought their own Bible.

What musical instruments were played?
Acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboard, synth, drums, vocals plus a backing choir.

Did anything distract you?

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very happy and fairly clappy. I spotted some flags and streamers, but no tambourines!

Stoneleigh Bible Week logo

Exactly how long was the sermon?
About 45 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – this was expositary preaching at its best.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Grace of God not only accepts us we are, but also enables us to say no to sin.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The worship.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing really... except that it was a bit hot!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
As I was with some friends, I wasn't really looking lost. We chatted for a while and some of the people next to us spoke to us.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee was served after the meeting. Most people there were camping onsite for the Bible week. Coffee back at the tent was slightly too cold and served in a plastic cup with too much milk (but then I did make it myself!), with some of my wife's carrot cake (10 out of 10 for that).

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Technically, a Bible week isn't a church. I'd give it a 10 for my regular Bible week.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The ever-so-slightly lingering aroma of the main hall's normal smell (that of a cattle shed). Someone remarked that "this was the gentle aroma that first touched our Lord's nostrils" – I just thought the heat made it smell a bit!

The Mystery Worshipper is sponsored by, the internet service provider from Christian Aid. By offering email services, special offers with companies such as and, surefish raises more than £300,000 a year for Christian Aid's work around the world.

Click here to find out how to become a Mystery Worshipper. And click here if you would like to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Top | Other Reports | Become a Mystery Worshipper!

© Ship of Fools 1999
Surefish logo