|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
Bible Church, Dallas, Texas, USA
Bible Church, Dallas, Texas, USA.
From the outside, the building did not look like a traditional
church: no gigantic cross or steeple present. Rather, it reminded
me of my childhood dentist's office. It was a very clean building,
accessible parking, and nicely maintained on the exterior and
Among their ministries are a food pantry, soup kitchen, and
"Circle One", which (quoting from their website) engages
in "selfless good deeds" in order to "amaze the
community" so that "the good news of Christ will prevail."
It's Dallas suburbia. Lots of shops, gas stations and restaurants
in the area. A gigantic special needs school sits directly across
the street from the church, which engulfs the intersection.
Elder Hal Habecker, head pastor, presided over the services.
Interestingly, he was referred to in the bulletin and on the
website simply as "Pastor Hal".
The date & time:
Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, 10.15am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The church seats roughly 300, and was about three-quarters full.
The church's body was mostly comprised of families and senior
Did anyone welcome you
Yes! This was the highlight of my morning. I met with the standard
firm handshake and a "Happy Easter" as I walked through the
door. Inside, a welcome center was strategically placed next
to the sanctuary entrance, and a gentleman was stationed there
waiting for guests. He approached me and asked if I had visited
the church before. Upon finding out I was a newbie, he personally
escorted me into the sanctuary and introduced me to the ushers.
He invited me to get comfortable and said that the service would
start in ten minutes. It was refreshing and I felt he was genuine
in his efforts to welcome me.
Was your pew comfortable?
There were no traditional pews. There were cushioned green patterned chairs that were linked together. They were quite comfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
As I sat down, the place appeared empty. In typical Dallas fashion,
over half of the congregation did not slip into their seats
until the service had already begun. Announcements were displayed
on screens at the front during pre-service; these were informative
and nicely designed. The pianist was delightful to listen to.
She played a lovely rendition of "Because He Lives" as the announcements
scrolled through. Once the masses flocked into the sanctuary,
the place was abuzz with conversation. The announcements then
shifted to a looping slide that said "Welcome to Church" with
a crown of thorns around the text, except the crown had been
artistically altered to blue and purple bolts of electricity
coming out of it.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
The worship leader opened with the words "Good evening" at the
10.15am service! Thankfully, for him, most were distracted by
their own conversations and did not pick up on the faux pas.
This was soon followed by the phrase "He is risen!" to which
the congregation responded, "He is risen indeed!"
What books did the congregation use during the
None. Song lyrics were displayed on large projector screens
at the front of the sanctuary. There were Bibles placed in attached
racks underneath the seats, but they were not utilized.
What musical instruments
A grand piano, electric keyboard, three guitars and drums.
Did anything distract
There was a large black masking of drapery that was on the right
side of the stage. I wanted to peel it back and see if the Wizard
of Oz was hiding behind it. There was also a man seated in the
row in front of me who kept turning around eyeballing the back
of the sanctuary. Either he was waiting on someone or trying
to figure out how to rob the offering plate.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Happy clappy! The worship leader often used the phrase "Put
your hands together, church!" during the singing. The music
was advertised as blended. Opened with a hymn of "Christ the
Lord is Risen Today", followed by contemporary praise songs
"Happy Day", "God Is Able" and "Glorious Day". The musicians
and vocalists were talented and engaged in the worship. However,
the sound balance was lacking. The drums were four times louder
than everything else, and often drowned out the craftsmanship
of the pianist, guitarists, and vocalists, who at times sang
in beautiful harmony with each other. Most of the time, the
congregation could not hear themselves or others around them
sing. At select moments, when the instrumentation got stripped
down, it was refreshing to hear each other singing and experience
a communal environment.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
26 minutes. The sermon never officially concluded, as a baby
dedication was woven into the ending of the message.
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
5 It's hard to assess the preacher's abilities on this
specific Sunday, being that it was Easter. He seemed to have
excellent speaking skills: he strongly projected, was enthusiastic
and articulate. He used lots of hand gestures and spoke with
conviction. His strongest aspects of preaching were his ability
to connect with an audience based on his zeal and enthusiasm.
But it was very apparent that the sermon was catered to a visitor
who had never heard the gospel before, so it was basic and fundamental.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The message was that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and
appeared to Mary Magdalene and the disciples. The Resurrection
was real, and this should lead to faith in Christ. An awkward
instance occurred around me when the pastor said we will have
the same voices in heaven as we do on earth, to which the chain
smoking lady next to me rasped, "Oh God, I hope not."
Which part of the service was like being in
There were moments during the congregational singing where a
very short elderly woman and her very tall husband were holding
their hands up in the air toward the heaven with reckless abandon.
It was a genuine authentically beautiful picture of a marriage
submitted to Christ. There was a special men's Easter choir
of about 15 that performed a harmonized original song toward
the end of the service, that was incredibly touching. The lighting
designer also did a really nice job throughout the service of
creating nice color palettes on the stage that enhanced (but
did not distract from) the mood and atmosphere they were after.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The call and response phrase "He is risen" ("He is risen indeed")
was beaten to death. This phrase was uttered from the pulpit
57 times by the midpoint in the sermon. I gave up counting at
that point. It would not be a shock if they got into triple
digits. It was seemingly resounded on the minute, every minute.
We get it. It's Easter. We are celebrating the moment. But it
became robotic, and the congregation definitely lost steam repeating
it as the service progressed. The sermon should have been titled
"If You didn't know he is risen, you're in for a real treat"
or "You will memorize three words today."
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
This was shocking. Never in my years of attending worship services
has the same greeter who welcomed me into a building made it
a point to bee-line all the way back over to me and invite me
back next week. We had a brief conversation about different
ministries of the church. I felt cared for.
How would you describe the after-service
There was no after-service coffee apparent. However, the communion wafers that were served earlier were the size of a salad plate, so perhaps everyone was full.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 I walked away from the service thinking this would
be a great spot for my parents. It had a nice homey atmosphere.
But my age group and life stage did not appear to be represented,
which would give me pause about coming back.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Sure. The Easter message of Christ's resurrection made me grateful for my pardoned sins and the salvation I have.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
He is risen. He is risen indeed. (Repeat.)
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.