|929: Emmanuel Christian Centre, Newark, Nottinghamshire, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Son of a Preacher Man.
The church: Emmanuel Christian Centre, Sherwood Avenue, Newark.
Denomination: Pentecostal, Assemblies of God.
The building: This large, modern building does not obviously look like a church. The buildings have recently been extended.
The church: The Emmanuel Christian Centre, and associated ECC churches in Lincoln, Ruskington and Collingham, are pastored by members of one family – the Morgans.
The neighbourhood: No.
The cast: Worship was led by Nick. The preacher was Pastor Gareth Morgan.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Night @ Emmanuel.
How full was the building?
The building was about half full, with around 120 in the congregation.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, several. There were two people on the entrance who shook hands with us and asked where we were from. When we got into the main worship area, we were welcomed again by two chaps, who asked where we were from.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was a padded modern seat.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very noisy. The band was playing and most people were talking loudly.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening. Ahh, the unmistakable sound of silence."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Words to worship songs were projected onto a screen at the front of the worship hall.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, drums, three guitars (one acoustic, two electric). The drummer was very energetic, rather like Animal from the muppet show. He had to keen mopping his brow, as he was getting increasingly sweaty.
Did anything distract you?
Yes. There were a lot of children wandering about. The most distracting thing was the collection. The offering was taken up in what can only be described as blue plastic salad bowls.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was very relaxed, with no real order to the service. We stopped half way through to speak to the people around us. We were sat next to the pastor's mother, who introduced us to a number of other people, including her daughter.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Very energetic. The further he got into his sermon, the more excited he became.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was the second part in a sermon series on "Running to Win". The theme was getting ourselves ready to serve. The majority of what he said was very good, but one area was rather controversial. The preacher believed that feelings were a barrier to service. Depression and similar feelings were a result of Satan's work. This may sometimes be the case, but the preacher didn't mention any other potential causes of such problems, which I felt was a bit short-sighted.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The worship was very uplifting. The worship group were very professional.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
As soon as the collection had finished, the stewards went into a side room to count it. They emerged 20 minutes later, having counted and bagged it, which didn't feel right.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No chance of looking lost for long here. The pastor's mother introduced us to her daughter and her son's wife, as well as to several others who asked probing questions about why we were there.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Plenty of choice of hot and cold drinks. There was even cake!
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 The worship was good, but the church seemed very incestuous. Most of the people we met seemed to be related to the pastor, who was himself the son of the previous pastor.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. Good lively worship and fellowship.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The blue plastic collection bowls.