|403: Calvary Chapel, Siegen, Germany|
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Mystery Worshipper: King Solomon.
The church: Calvary Chapel, Siegen, Germany.
Denomination: Non-denominational, evangelical, mildly charismatic, belongs to the Calvary Chapel family of churches.
The building: The church has converted a carpet factory into its home. The main meeting room is separated by a driveway from the Times Square Coffee Bar which belongs to the church.
The church: The church is very popular among young trendy Germans. Interestingly, some members of the congregation drive for an hour to visit this church. As the leadership of the church is mostly American, a translator is used to convey the message to the Germans.
The neighbourhood: Siegen is an industrial town in Nord-Rhein-Westphalen that can be compared to Huddersfield in the UK. The church is on a main road. On the other side of this road a brothel called "Gitte's Bar" can be found. Light and darkness lie close together. Please pray that the church will reach out to the brothel and convert it to a house of prayer.
The cast: Pastor: Nick Long (his only involvement in this service was to sing during the worship); assistant pastor: Edmund Coronel. Preacher: a guest speaker, Dr Ed Bulkley, pastor of the Life Fellowship Church, a free church near Denver. The service was led by Alexander Kruse who also was the translator.
What was the name of the service?
Abengottesdienst (Evening Service).
How full was the building?
250 people, 75 percent full. The church has three identical services each Sunday, which indicates that it is popular.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Siegen is infamous for its aloof and unfriendly people. On the contrary in this church the people were warm and friendly. God is clearly at work here. A steward greeted me with a handshake at the entrance. Several members of the church welcomed me, including a Burmese girl (the church is very international). The warmth of the Germans was all the more remarkable, as I was visiting just after an international soccer match between our two countries which Germany had lost heavily!
Was your pew comfortable?
The church has armchairs! No hiding place for the preacher here. The chairs are so comfortable that people would fall asleep straight away if the sermon was boring. The whole interior of the meeting room felt more like a cinema than a church.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People were chatting away. I met a group of young Americans who visited the church for the first time and had a good pre-service chat as well.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We anticipate God to do something tonight!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Bibles (either in German or in English) are provided in racks. The church is technologically advanced. The songs are projected by computer onto the screen, although I didn't recognize the program used.
What musical instruments were played?
Mostly guitars, but keyboard and drums were also present.
Did anything distract you?
The surroundings of the church were so swish that I constantly found myself marvelling about how posh they were instead of concentrating on the service.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Mildly happy-clappy. No clapping but a few hands in the air were seen. Charismatic gifts such as tongues and prophesies were absent in line with what the leader of the Calvary Chapel movement recommends. In fact it was pretty dull and resembled more a concert than a worship session. The band played for 40 minutes and the concert was only twice interrupted for short prayers from the front. The choice of songs was good and the congregation tried to worship God as best as they could. My home church is charismatic and utilizes lots of spiritual gifts in the worship so I felt homesick.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 A corker. Biblical, relevant and straight to the point. The preacher showed that he was not afraid to defend the word of God even if it was controversial. The Burmese girl I met called it "awesome".
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Colossians 2:8. The sermon was about biblical counselling. It referred to a conference on the same by the preacher, a world expert on this topic. He was arguing that everything we need to know about counselling depressed people can be found in the word of God, and that secular psychology is rubbish and cannot truly help the patient, which I wholeheartedly agreed with.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sermon. Also, in general seeing a lively growing church that faithfully proclaims the word of God in a spiritually dead part of Germany did wonders for my faith.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The fact that even a biblically strong church and an anointed Bible teacher like the leader of the Calvary Church movement can get it wrong sometimes, in the worship and the use of spiritual gifts. May I stress here that Calvary Chapel is not a charisma-sceptic church but a church that practises and utilizes spiritual gifts in most aspects of church life.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Both the preacher and the assistant pastor greeted me. There was no time to get bored. I went to the coffee bar afterwards and had a good time. The Americans I met during the service had an impromptu prayer with me in the coffee bar which was great.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None, but the church has a coffee bar on site. It is excellent and would not be out of place at Covent Garden, although the prices are a lot more reasonable. About 20 types of coffees, teas, fruit juices, and milkshakes are on offer. Most drinks have biblical names such as "Queen of Sheba" or "John the Baptist".
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 An excellent outward-looking church which blesses the community and the whole region. Because of the weakness on the worship side I can only give it an 8. If they can get that sorted out they deserve a 10.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Definitely. Churches which are full of young people who are hungry for God are a blessing that needs to be appreciated, particularly in a place like Germany that is in desperate need of revival.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The verse the sermon was centred around: "Don't let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world and not from Christ". It spoke straight to my heart.