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886: First Christian Church, Fort Myers, Florida, USA
Other reports | Comment on this report
First Christian Church, Fort Myers, Florida, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Bach's Office.
The church: First Christian Church, Fort Myers, Florida, USA.
Denomination: Non-denominational.
The building: The building is a spacious, open auditorium. A large, backlighted wooden cross adorns the wall at the back of the chancel. The ceiling is constructed of knotty pine planks over large crossed beams, but its beauty is marred by theater-type lighting. A dock adjoins the front of the stage to facilitate the current sermon series.
The church: In a city known for its large retirement population, this church consists of mostly young families.
The neighbourhood: The church is in an historical district, mostly very lovely and neat, with many stately homes (by Fort Myers standards) with nicely manicured lawns.
The cast: Pastor Gary Cox preached the sermon. Jeff Swearingen gave the meditation before the communion. Jeffrey Shicks and Amy Joslin served as praise team leaders.
What was the name of the service?
11.15am Contemporary Service.

How full was the building?
About half full – half of that number wandered in during the opening praise songs.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A greeter at the door handed me a bulletin. A gentleman at the information booth seemed to be talking to me but never looked at me, and I wondered if he was talking to himself – his responses didn't exactly go with what I was asking. I guess I pretended that he was talking to me.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were wooden with upholstered padding, and were very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Lots of friendly greeting among folks who were obviously very happy to see each other. A woman wearing a mantilla appeared deep in prayer; she looked very much at peace.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome, and good morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The congregation didn't use any books, even though there were New International Version Bibles in the pews. Everything was projected onto two large screens.

What musical instruments were played?
The praise band consisted of a baby grand piano, electronic keyboard, bass guitar, electric guitar, amplified acoustic guitar, and drum pad kit. There was a battered old electronic organ (musical toaster, as organist like to say) on the stage, but it wasn't played.

Did anything distract you?
The sound during the praise songs was quite distorted, especially at the first part of the service. I expected it to be a bit loud, but loud and distorted equates to obnoxious. One of the very few gray-haired ladies in the congregation had her hair styled into a beehive! I hadn't seen one of those since the 70s. I was distracted by that little hole in the top of her "do" – I was expecting bees to emerge, I guess.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It surprised me that this wasn't a happy-clappy service. In fact, the only mass clapping that occurred was during the final song. One person raised his hands during the first part of the service, but otherwise the mood was happy but dignified!

Exactly how long was the sermon?
21 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Pastor Cox is a very good preacher. His style is very conversational and easy to listen to.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on Mark 1:14-18 (Jesus calls the disciples to be fishers of men). Pastor Cox stated that no one becomes a Christian to bring others to Christ – that happens as we grow. God will perfectly position us to catch fish; and just as the disciples must have been so very excited when their nets were overflowing, we can be that excited, too. If we as ordinary Christians share our faith, a person is likely to realize that we truly believe what we profess. So, we should ask ourselves, does anyone else believe in Christ because of me?

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sense of community was wonderful. Seeing so many young families in a town known as a retirement area was very uplifting.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
In spite of the very obvious friendship among the congregation, I would have felt very alone and left out had I not been with a couple of friends. Also, among the 30 or so ushers, it was a bit unsettling to see that there were about 20 men, 10 teenage boys, and two women. There were no teenage girls. This seemed a bit odd.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I spotted a friend at the back of the auditorium. We spoke for several minutes, and she introduced me to one of her friends. Although we stood in the main foyer, no one else spoke to us.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't see any – but to be fair, we didn't really go on a search, since we were on our way to lunch!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – Good preaching, good music, and knowing a few of the parishioners are definite pluses.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes! Absolutely! I truly enjoy being with God's people.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The woman wearing the mantilla, so deep in prayer.
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