|553: Elim Pentecostal, Coventry, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Baggie accompanied by Mrs Baggie.
The church: Elim Pentecostal, Coventry, England.
Denomination: Elim Pentecostal.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.
The building: The building was bright, modern and comfortable. It was well laid out with the platform in one corner to make maximum use of the space. There seemed to be ample side rooms.
The church: This was the Asian Outreach team's annual convention but not all of the congregation were Asian: about one third were African Caribbean, and there were a few white faces scattered about. I am not clear how closely the church is linked to the Asian Outreach team as it was noticeable that neither of the ministers listed on the church notice board were introduced in the service. Every minister present was asked to stand and be introduced to the congregation.
The cast: Harbans Masih.
What was the name of the service?
Annual Convention, Saturday Morning session.
How full was the building?
At 10.45am when the service started (it was advertised as 10.30am) the building was about half full, with around 150 people. By noon it was bursting at the seams over 300. Around half the people were aged between 13 and 30.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We thought we were late as we arrived right on 10.30am, and came in what must have been the back way from the car park, hence we didn't see any greeters. The person we sat next to was a very friendly visitor from Leeds. He shook our hands and engaged in conversation.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable modern chairs. Given the length of the service, this was a blessing.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A Punjabi version of the Jesus film was playing on the screen. There was a lot of happy chatter from the assembled young people.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning. It is still morning, init?" (An allusion to the slightly late start.) "God bless you."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Most people had a bible, the languages and translations of which varied. The words for the congregational song were projected on to a screen.
What musical instruments were played?
Three sets of different kinds of Indian drums, a normal drum kit, and an Indian keyboard instrument that had to be pumped by hand. Keyboards and backing tracks were used by some of the soloists.
Did anything distract you?
The big video lights that were turned on at the start of the service were very noticeable. The general comings and goings of the congregation were distracting, as were the mobile phones.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was pentecostal/charismatic. We were frequently encouraged to respond with "hallelujah" or "praise the Lord." The congregational songs were all in Punjabi and had Asian tunes. Some of the soloists sang in English, Urdu or Hindi. The testimonies were translated either into Punjabi from English or vice versa. There was a very disorganised feel to the proceedings with the service leader regularly calling "Has brother or sister so-and-so arrived yet? If the answer was “no” (which often seemed to be the case) he would then say, "We will have brother X then, is he here? As more people arrived this moderated to “So and so will sing, can brother X be ready after they have finished?”
Exactly how long was the sermon?
If there was a sermon it didn't start until after 1.00pm, when we had to leave. I think the sermon was to be in the afternoon session.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The wonderful singing of the Asian Outreach team. As it was their convention they were there from the beginning, so they were on fairly early in the programme. This was a pity, because many people missed them.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The movement of people around the building and mobile phones ringing. The sheer length of the session was hard for me and I suspect that most people were not late, but had aimed to arrive after the start because they knew how long it would be.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I left before the end, but people I met were very warm and friendly.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was a lunch provided, very spicy and plenty of it. Sadly we had to leave before the food was served.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 I simply don't speak enough Punjabi and the cultural aspect would be hard for me to take regularly.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very. It was good to see the excitement of faith in the faces of people. Many had converted to Christianity at great cost but had clearly found something that made conversion worthwhile.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The Asian Outreach Team ladies in their striking blue matching saris.