|933: King's Church, Manchester, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Onefourseven.
The church: King's Church, Manchester, England.
Denomination: Free Charismatic.
The building: In a former life, this building was either a warehouse or a factory you can still make out a faint outline of the company's name on the outside. All that indicates that this is a church is a small noticeboard by the door and a large banner advertising their webpage strung across the top of the building.
The church: The church is very cosmopolitan: congregants wearing traditional African dress mixed freely with university students. The church used to meet as a number of satellite groups and only came together once a month, but now everyone attends the Sunday morning service.
The neighbourhood: The church is right in the middle of the university quarter, and I was faintly amused to note that its next door neighbour was the Islamic Information Centre.
The cast: Kofu, Richard, Richard and Emma. Surnames not supplied.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Half the congregation was at least 15 minutes late, but 20 minutes in, the place was full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A steward, wearing a holey hat, gave me a bulletin and said "Hello". During the first part of the service, one of the leaders asked first-timers to "Be brave and stand up". The half dozen of us who did so were given a round of applause and the man at the end my row came and shook hands with me.
Was your pew comfortable?
The chairs were those stackable plastic ones and were very uncomfortable. I like to slouch, but this was impossible.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Folk generally milled around and chatted. There was lots of hugging. People continued to wander in a good 20 minutes after the start of the service.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, please take your seats."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Bible. The songs were projected on to the wall via a computer, so the words scrolled up as we sang. No more fumbling with OHP acetates at this church!
What musical instruments were played?
From left to right: trumpet, cornet, violin, bass guitar, lead guitar, drums and keyboards.
Did anything distract you?
I found the flags hanging all about the auditorium distracting, particularly as I couldn't identify them all. Even more distracting was the kid at the front who kept staring at me, and the pretty blonde backing singer. I was smitten.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very much happy clappy! Flags for the children, lots of arms raised, speaking in tongues, various contributions from the congregation and a bloke pogo-ing off to one side.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – He was one of the most engaging speakers I've ever listened to.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
On the surface, the sermon was about giving money to the church, but there was a deeper underlying message. Everything we have belongs to God. Our lives and what we offer to others should reflect that.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Receiving a round of applause for being new could have been very cheesy, but actually made me feel very welcome and wanted. I hope I'm applauded when I get to heaven.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The chairs were definitely hellish, and I think the pretty blonde backing singer has a boyfriend.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have the opportunity to look lost. As soon as the service ended, a woman came and asked me whether I was one of the new people. I was taken down to the coffee lounge and spent a very enjoyable half an hour chatting with half a dozen or so people.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee was hot, which is all I really ask for. Chocolate digestives were the biscuit of choice. I could have had tea or orange squash as an alternative.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The church has obviously put some thought into how it meets and greets strangers and does it really well.