|802: Destiny Place, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: PathDoc.
The church: Destiny Place Church, 7111 Freret St, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Denomination: Interdenominational, but clearly Protestant.
The building: This new church meets in a classic blue-green Southern American home near Tulane University on Freret St near Broadway. After walking up the cement steps, an archetypal Southern porch leads to the front door. Inside, the walls have been altered to make a meeting room with a light oak wood floor and high ceiling. The inside is bright and inviting. A multi-speaker sound system and projection screen with computer projector complete the setup.
The church: The church is just getting started. They are reaching out to the Tulane university community with a pancake ministry, offering hungry students free pancakes on Friday nights at midnight. This creative idea appealed to me, so I stopped by on Sunday.
The neighbourhood: The church building shares space with a Baptist student center, and lies right in the middle of Fraternity Row and several bars.
The cast: The minister was Jeff Powell. Song leader was Peter, and Jane led the children's ministry.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Worship at 10.00am.
How full was the building?
There were about 20 worshippers present, mostly young to early middle aged.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The minister shook our hands as we entered, and several of the staff and congregation said hello at various times. It was friendly and inviting.
Was your pew comfortable?
The church uses folding metal chairs rather than pews, since it meets in a remodeled house. Some padding would have felt welcome, as the posterior began to grow numb toward the end of the sermon. I might bring my own pad if I visit New Orleans again.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Before the service, people milled around talking while the music team put the final touches on the equipment. There were a few children present. It felt welcoming, not too quiet or loud.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, everybody!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The bible version was the New International Version. This is a BYOB (bring your own Bible) church and virtually everyone had one. Lyrics for music were projected on a screen at the front of the room.
What musical instruments were played?
Recorded instrumental music came over the speakers at the front of the room, fairly well coordinated with the projected lyrics (although with an occasional lapse). The tone was contemporary, with guitar, drum, organ, and some woodwinds audible to my untrained ears. Church karaoke might be a good description.
Did anything distract you?
During prayer, one congregant turned around and knelt in front of her chair with her head on the seat. She obviously felt strongly and it didn't really seem out of place, but I did notice it. Also, the preacher used a microphone during the service which in a room of 20 seemed excessive. Then I noticed that they record their services and give recordings to guests.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service began, as many American evangelical services do, with several contemporary Christian songs. Some had a snappy beat and hands did clap. After that, the minister came up and gave a sermon that I would describe as enthusiastic and motivational. As small as the church is currently, and with the obvious effort to attract students, the informal atmosphere seemed to work.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 I found the loudness of the PA system distracting. Also, while his enthusiasm was infectious, perhaps some change in the energy level of the sermon would be helpful from time to time. He gave us a one page handout with the scripture verses and some places to fill in blanks, which at first might seem a bit corny. However, I still have it and look at it. He also did not try to do too much; he emphasized his points in a memorable way.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
This sermon was the third in a series of four about "Walking on the waves of life." The word of God allows us to walk on the waves of life. We get the word by reading, testimony, Jesus, prophets and the Holy Spirit. Then, we must agree with the word, get in a community of believers and appropriate and activate the word. He ended with a teaching device: you must think it, speak it, and do it.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sermon followed the outline logically and drew some concepts together well. At the beginning the light room and informal atmosphere worked well for me.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
After a 47 minute sermon, the seat was beginning to feel very hard and I was ready to leave, but the minister began what seemed an eternal litany of announcements. Most churches put the announcements at the beginning, which I personally prefer.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A congregation of 20 leaves little room to feel lost. Several people shook my hand and spoke, and the minister met me at the door and invited me back. We discussed driving in snow, something I have done most of my life. He being a New Orleans boy was new to that experience.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Dunkin' Donuts and some coffee lay on a table at the back of the room. Since coffee and I don't get along and Donuts are not on my current low-carbohydrate regimen (not even close) I did not indulge. But I wanted to.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 A small beginning church would be exciting to join. I had that experience years ago in Las Vegas, and enjoyed the spirit as it grew. On the other hand, a large church offers more diversity and anonymity.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely! The minister loves to teach, the young congregation reminded me of that time in my life, and it felt welcoming.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The concept of walking on the waves of life, supported by faith.