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||1501: The Rock of Cleveland, Cleveland, Georgia, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Mini Mystery Me.
The church: The
Rock of Cleveland, Cleveland, Georgia, USA.
The building: An older brick building – it may have been a factory
at one time – that was bought by the church and renovated.
The church: The Rock calls its members covenant partners and claims
to number about 600 people in its membership – remarkable given that Cleveland's
population is about 2,000. The church sees its work as one of reconciliation
(as their website states: "Many have received Jesus Christ as Lord,
marriages have been reconciled, people have been set free from drug and
alcohol addictions and many folks have found a renewed freshness in the
Lord") and evangelization. Their many children's, youth and adult ministries
are all described on their website, and they seem to place special emphasis
on children. Many of the women in the congregation appeared to be pregnant.
The neighborhood: Cleveland is a small city in northern Georgia where
that "must-have" fad of the late 1970s was born: the Cabbage
Patch Kid dolls. The dolls were manufactured at a facility named Babyland
General Hospital. The workers who produced the dolls were called mothers
and were said to give birth to the dolls; other workers who prepared the
dolls for sale were called nurses. Although rights to manufacture the dolls
were later bought by several toy conglomerates and the fad is now all but
dead, the hospital still attracts a trickle of tourists. The church is located
on the outskirts of the city.
The cast: The Revd David Crowe, senior pastor; Tony Elrod, director
of student ministries; Karen Vandiver, worship leader. There was also a
dance team but its members were not named.
The date & time: November 5, 2007, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
It seemed mostly full, but there were plenty of seats in the back.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Everyone seemed very nice. People came up to me to shake my hand and say
hello. A few others asked questions such as where was I from, etc. But read
Was your pew comfortable?
There were no pews, but chairs. They were padded and felt very comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
There was upbeat music playing in the background. Announcements were projected
onto two large screens to the side of the stage. The lights were dim. People
were talking and moving about.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning everyone. Come on in and get a seat."
What books did the congregation use during the
The Holy Bible, New King James Version. There was no bulletin.
The words for the music were projected onto the screens along with shots
of the band and singers.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, percussion and drums.
There were also four vocalists. The songs were contemporary worship, in
the vein of Hillsong and Integrity.
Did anything distract you?
There was a children's service taking place in an adjoining room, and the
music from that service could be heard clearly through the walls. There
was also a cameraman on stage; I found this distracting. And the lights
kept changing color.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
It was definitely happy clappy. People were lifting their hands and clapping.
The lights kept flashing and moving around as they changed color. The service
started with a welcome by Pastor Tony, the youth pastor. Then announcements
were given, and a dance team did a hip-hop dance to a Kirk Franklin song.
More music followed, and then Pastor David delivered his sermon. At the
end someone took up the offering.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Pastor David skillfully blended personal anecdotes with biblical
references. He would get excited at times and speak a little louder. There
were a few "Amens" and "That's right" from the congregation.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Pastor David once worked in an automobile factory and recalled that defective
parts had to be quarantined so they wouldn't end up in finished product.
In our own lives, sometimes we quarantine ourselves when we encounter roadblocks
or become upset. But think of Acts 14:19, where Paul is stoned, dragged
from the city and left for dead. But later he got up and returned to the
city. God is leading the process of our lives.
Which part of the service was like being in
I thought the sermon was a good message and spoke to a lot of people. Keep
going even if life does not go the way you had planned.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I was surprised more people didn't say hello to me. Of those who did, I
counted only five who said hello, three who shook hands, and two who asked
questions. I was also disappointed by the lack of take-away literature such
as a visitor packet telling me more about the church, what it offered and
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I walked around the building looking at the children's rooms, and was handed
a small card listing some upcoming children's events.
How would you describe the after-service
Good coffee, served in a plastic cup. Danish pastries were also available.
Quite a long line had formed for refreshments.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 It was a very upbeat service, but I could have wished it to be
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
There was a freedom to worship God. Everyone seemed happy.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sermon, so applicable to so many people. That and the large number of
pregnant women in the church.
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