|857: Sanctuary of Faith, Lee's Summit, Missouri, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Asian Anglican.
The church: Sanctuary of Faith, Lee's Summit, Missouri.
Denomination: This church is affiliated with the World Harvest Ministerial Fellowship International.
The church: I couldn't tell who the church members were since it was a special service, with lots of visitors roaming around.
The neighbourhood: Nothing particularly interesting. It looks like a rural neighborhood with a church plopped down in the middle of it.
The cast: Pastor Larry Stacy, senior pastor and guest preacher, along with Pastor Rod Parsley, who is a well-known pastor and evangelist through the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
What was the name of the service?
Special evening service with Pastor Rod Parsley.
How full was the building?
The building was full. The sanctuary itself is very small, and only seats about 100 or 150. It was packed out. There was an outdoor overflow area from which 300 or so watched the service through a closed-circuit TV feed. I was one of the lucky ones who came early to ensure a seat inside the sanctuary; there was already a long queue two hours before the service was due to start.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
It looked like the regular usher/greeting team was stressed out because of the huge crowd that showed up. A few greeters made eye contact and smiled, but that was about it.
Was your pew comfortable?
Kinda comfortable. The wooden pews were upholstered in a hideously ugly maroonish fabric. It was a long service, clocking in at about 2 hours and 45 minutes, so the pews got like hard work after a while.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The pre-service atmosphere was pretty exciting. Everyone came to see and hear Pastor Rod Parsley, a very well-known pastor and evangelist. So, there were people reading through their Bibles, praying, clapping their hands, singing along with the CD that was playing through the PA system. The atmosphere was one of expectancy: expecting a miracle to happen in the service.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to Sanctuary of Faith Church!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Just the Bible, although there were no Bibles in the pew racks; everyone toted their own into the church. The words to the worship songs were projected onto two screens in the sanctuary.
What musical instruments were played?
Pastor Rod Parsley travels with his own organ and organist: he brought in a Hammond B-3 organ and an elder to play it! The elder, who played during the entire sermon, punctuated the high spots with flourishes on his instrument. The church had their own worship team made up of singers, drums, a keyboard, guitars and a saxophone. As well as that, some of the members of the church played along on tambourines.
Did anything distract you?
The tiny sanctuary was completely full. It was hot and steamy in there. It was filled with the foul stench of body odor and it took everything in me to not think of the smell.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship team was awful. I'm not a musician by trade, but I can tell when someone is tone deaf. These singers definitely had some problems in the pitch department. The worship leader – a young man who seemed in his twenties – played an acoustic guitar and tried to lead the worship vocally as well. Just as well someone was leading – the tech team couldn't keep up with even the slowest of choruses, and the lyrics on the screens seemed to always be lagging a verse behind. That, the incredibly slow pace of the choruses, and the inability of the music team to keep on-key, made it really difficult to participate in the worship. It was a pretty dismal praise and worship time, but the Lord was still there. The style seemed to be a blend of Pentecostal and Anglo-modern worship. Thank the Lord that Pastor Parsley brought his own organist! In the middle of the sermon, the organist took over, the drummer got into it and we started singing again. That part of the service was glorious: traditional Gospel at its finest, with only the organist and drummer to accompany us.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
Two hours. No kidding. But it was exciting.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Pastor Rod Parsley is a very charismatic preacher and is well known through his television ministry worldwide. So his reputation preceded him, which accounts for the huge crowd that showed up to see him. He has a traditional gospel preaching style with lots of call and response.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Bringing the Lord the reward for his suffering." If we're serious about our belief in Jesus's death for us, we need to be serious about bringing others to church with us so they can hear the gospel. It was very inspirational with a little bit of showmanship thrown in.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The wonderful organ playing which punctuated Pastor Parsley's sermon and the little time of praise and worship led by the organist and drummer. The sermon wasn't bad, either.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Yikes... the church's worship team left much to be desired. God bless them anyway, because they did the best they could, I'm sure.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing, really. Everyone darted out the doors as quickly as possible to be the first ones out of the parking lot.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee or refreshments. There was a very large product table set up in the narthex for people to buy the latest and greatest of Pastor Rod Parsley's teachings on cassette, CD and in book form.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 I don't think I could make this church my home. The combination of the gruesome decor and the abysmal music were just too off-putting. Plus, the senior pastor seemed like he was doing his best impression of guest Pastor Rod Parsley, almost like a carbon copy of the guy.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes! The inspiring gospel preaching and the organist was great.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The abysmal worship experience by the Sanctuary of Faith worship team.