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530: Barrow Methodist, Loughborough, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
Barrow Methodist, Loughborough, England
Mystery Worshipper: Candle in the dark.
The church: Barrow Methodist, Loughborough, Leicestershire, England.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: Original church is 1911, fairly typical of Methodist churches. The extension is more recent and provides facilities: toilets, kitchen and a large back hall.
The church: The service I'm reviewing followed creative workshops held on the Saturday afternoon. I participated in these as part of the worship band. This may make me biased, but I felt that such an interesting service was begging to be reviewed!
The neighbourhood: I don't know the area well, it is a satellite villige to Loughborough. At the time in question the village was fairly inaccesible as road works closed all but one entrance into the centre, where the church is.
The cast: The service was lead by Dennis Doyle, a local preacher who is involved in creative worship through his puppet group, which is called "Hands Up". Many other people were involved in the service also.
What was the name of the service?
I'm not sure the service had a title as such – probably "morning worship".

How full was the building?
The service was held in the hall rather than in the church because it is larger and is a more flexible space for worship. All the seats were taken, and a few extra brought in. Full, cosy, not bulging.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As part of the band I was there early to set up. We were welcomed in at that stage.

Was your pew comfortable?
There were standard, moulded, stacking chairs. Nothing stunning, but not uncomfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The atmosphere was busy – sound check and warm-up, system checks for the video projector and so on. The business was all focused on the worship to come.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning everyone and welcome to our service." The steward on duty then thanked everyone who would be involved in the service and handed over to Dennis Doyle.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Song words were video-projected onto the screen. There were no service books or sheets to play with, except that those involved had an order of service.

What musical instruments were played?
The band was made up of two guitars, bass guitar, keyboard, drums, violin, bodhran, two clarinettes, flute and oboe.

Did anything distract you?
The usual when in a worship band – having to be aware of what comes next so that we're ready to play at the right moment.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Err... unique! the music was mainly choruses. There was also mime, dance and drama involved in the service, and puppets were used to illustrate the Bible reading.

Barrow Methodist

Exactly how long was the sermon?
No sermon – although there were a series of short talks linking items.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Dennis Doyle is accomplished speaker who overcomes a stutter to come across well.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The links were good and developed the theme of God's people as a broken but healed and renewed people.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
There was a mime before the offering that portrayed how much of ourselves we are asked to give. It started with a few coppers in the collection. Then the person gave more money, then material goods, then, eventually and reluctantly, they gave themselves. An amusing and powerful message.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Being behind the group signing some of the choruses, so that I couldn't see them and join in.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was rather disappointed at this point. I'd gained an impression of a very welcoming church, but when it came to this part, nobody came to say hello.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The tea was foul, in my opinion. But I like it weak, and most people seem to like it strong in this area.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – I have to acknowledge that I'm not reviewing a regular service, but an unusual one.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, I enjoy creative arts in worship when done well. This service flowed well and was God-centred with a strong and coherent message.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The mime. God keeps asking that we give all of ourselves, handing our free will back to him. This was comic and powerful at once.

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