|746: New Life, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Caleb.
The church: New Life, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.
Denomination: New Frontiers.
The church: The church seems to want to evangelize and be part of the community, with collecting for the poor, Alpha courses, cell groups, and their very welcoming manner.
The cast: The pastor was on holiday, so the service was led by an elder, Alex Ross, with Martin somebody-or-other doing the preaching.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The building was less than half full, with approx 60 people in the congregation. Then again, it was the middle of July with the children's group away for the day, and many people on holiday.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We had to get past about six people on the door, each one insisted on shaking our hands. When we finally managed to get to our seats there seemed to be a procession of people who wanted to say hello to us. Also, when the children left half way through the service the leader offered another occasion for members to say hello to visitors. We were overwhelmed!
Was your pew comfortable?
No pews, but instead red chairs that were linked together. These were quite comfortable, with plenty of leg room, but for those of us of ample girth there was not much width.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a tape playing in the background, but due to the procession of welcomers we did not have any time to assess the atmosphere.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Can someone turn off the music at the back or shall we mime?"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books, as the words of the songs were projected onto the wall at the front.
What musical instruments were played?
Two guitars, one bass and drums. The guitarist had obviously trained at the Dire Straits school of music.
Did anything distract you?
The way the leader asked various people to pray at different times throughout the service was off putting. I have to confess I sank lower and lower into my chair just in case...
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very happy clappy, with raised hands and even dancing.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 The preacher was very nervous, he spoke too fast and some people had difficulty understanding his South African accent and idioms. The sermon was disjointed and had no structure, but he did make some valid points.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
1 Timothy 6:6 – Godliness and contentment leads to effective Christianity. All Christians should be praying, serving and encouraging.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The welcome we received was heavenly to say the least.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
No Bible reading going on.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We didn't have chance to hang around, as several people all at once tried to give us directions, and show us where to go to get a cup of coffee.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Stewed tea in lovely mugs with rich tea biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 There was a lot of freedom of worship evident, but the preaching did not challenge me very much. It may be different when the pastor is there.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes – they made it appear to be fun.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The welcome – I have never seen anything like it.