|153: King's Church, Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Joy.
The church: King's Church, Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire, UK.
Denomination: Free church, member of New Frontiers International.
The building: The church is in a converted shop on the high street. The ground floor is a gift and coffee shop, and the meeting room is on the first floor.
The neighbourhood: In the centre of the old part of the village. A really central site. The area is rural middle England.
The cast: Pastor Tony Cauchi.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About 70 per cent full. The preacher reported that the morning service had been the biggest congregation ever and the church was bulging at the seams.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
It would be impossible to reach the meeting room without at least two people speaking to you. They said, "Good evening, nice to see you." I felt welcome. At the start of the service, the preacher announced two minutes for "all of you to go and introduce yourself to someone you don't know."
Was your pew comfortable?
Chairs locked in rows. Fairly comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Everyone had someone to talk to. The church members seek out anyone who seems to be alone, to talk to them and make them feel welcome. The service always starts late, as everyone seems keen to talk to old friends, and the preacher seems happy to let them.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening, it's nice to welcome you all here."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books. All worship is projected, leaving everyone's hands free. Bibles were available, though most had brought their own. A brief handout of sermon notes was given at the start of the sermon.
What musical instruments were played?
Synthesizer, guitar and drums.
Did anything distract you?
Nothing distracting. It was amazing to watch the activity during worship: the clapping, dancing and joy on the faces.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very happy clappy. This church really enjoys its worship, and everyone lets their hair down. This is a charismatic and evangelical church and obviously happy to be so. The preacher joked that in this church they said, "hands down for coffee."
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. I have heard this preacher before. I have to mark him 8, because although he was good, he can be even better.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"A Bible Prescription for a Victorious Christian Life." That was what it said on the sermon notes. The preacher was really short of time, and only covered five of the seven points on the notes.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The worship was as relaxed and joyful as I have ever experienced.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
No embarrassing parts.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
If anyone ever gets out of this church without being spoken to, they must be invisible.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8. I would go to this church if I wasn't already committed to my own, and if it was convenient for me.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Oh yes. Full of happiness.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The part of the sermon about making God your first love.