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!
533: Swanbank Methodist, Burslem, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
Swanbank Burslem
Mystery Worshipper: Margaret Mitchell.
The church: Swanbank Methodist, Burslem.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: 30 years old. A high, warehouse-like, black beam building, with a Dr Who type organ on a platform over the entrance, wider than it was long. There were some banners on the walls. At the front was an open area for a communion table and the pulpit, with an OHP screen on the wall.
The church: Mixed ages, local – although a number of people travel some miles to get here.
The neighbourhood: Set in the centre of Burslem, a pottery town with a history of art and design. In the early years of the last century it had its own art college. It's the home of Royal Dalton, Port Vaale and other well known brand names.
The cast: Worship leader: Amy Thompson; preacher: David Cooper.
What was the name of the service?
10:30 morning worship.

How full was the building?
75 per cent – 300 out of 450.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I entered the porch, five people shook my hand immediately and then said hello. I was most welcomed! I had to find my own chair, but that was only a little disorientating – the church had four aisles in a wide building.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a chair, reasonably comfortable, and I had no immediate neighbours.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a buzz of chatter, not too loud, and a child playing with his mother's hair which was quite entertaining.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Come! Now is the time to worship." (Which we then sang.)

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. The OHP was well done with no gaps and no confusion. The OHP operator is a crucial part of the worship leading team and was very good.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard (the keyboard player disappeared at one point and a volunteer from the congregation had to start the next song), drums, two guitars and three singers.

Did anything distract you?
The drummer was in a glass box – to protect her or us?

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The overall feeling was gentle, relaxed celebratory. It was modern songs sung with enthusiasm by the congregation.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
27 mins.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Presence, Promise and Power of God. His themes were taken from the story of the Israelites entering the promised land.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sermon. It was well delivered, and took us into the loving arms of a mighty God.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone headed for the doors; my neighbour asked if I had a child in the Sunday School. As I walked out the preacher had a word with me at the door. I felt pleased about the welcome, but convenient coffee and someone to talk to would have been nice.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No discernible coffee!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it felt like a real Methodist Church without being over the top.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Something the preacher said: God is almighty not all-matey!
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 2002
Surefish logo