Mystery Worshipper: Ronnie
Church: FaithWay Baptist
Location: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Date of visit: Sunday, 22 September 2013, 6:00pm
Modern looking brick building constructed in 1981. It is a large church that I would estimate seats about 800.
They have a heart for missions and currently support 199 missionary families. They have also established a school and a Bible college on their property.
Ajax is a town about 15 miles east of Toronto. It is named in honour of the HMS Ajax, a ship that took part in numerous actions during World War II, including the first significant British naval victory of the war. Originally the site of a munitions plant, the town saw significant growth after the war and today serves as a bedroom community for commuters to Toronto and the surrounding area. When FaithWay opened at its present location in 1981, it was across the street from a farm. But the community is growing rapidly, and new house construction is booming in this formerly rural area.
The Revd Robert E. Wall, pastor.
What was the name of the service?Evening Worship Service.
How full was the building?
Almost full about 95 per cent.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Many people welcomed us at the door, where a fellow handed me a bulletin. Once we were seated inside, seven or so people came to where we were sitting and introduced themselves. Some asked if we were visiting, if we lived in the community, and so forth.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was relatively comfortable. It was wooden with a lovely thick cushion on it.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a mild din, with everyone talking and greeting each other.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening. Let's turn to hymn number 147: 'Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.'"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Bible (their website states that it is their practice to use only the King James Version) and Soul Stirring Songs and Hymns.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, grand piano, flute and trumpet.
Did anything distract you?
If anything distracted me a little, it was the woman in front of me. Not her, but her hat. It was enormous and completely blocked my view of anything that was occurring at the front of the building. I had to bend over a great deal to see anything past her head.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was robust: good solid bouncy hymns in the Baptist or Salvation Army tradition, sung with gusto.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – In spite of the sermon being extraordinarily long by my standards, the preacher was extremely engaging. He spoke crisply and told amusing stories that made the sermon memorable.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on 2 Chronicles 12 (as punishment for Israel's abandonment of God under King Rehoboam, God allows Shishak to sack Jerusalem). We must not to trade our brass for gold, but rather be authentic and transparent in our relationships with God and others. Be genuine. Do not be lifted up with pride, the high price of hypocrisy, but rather seek the Lord and do not tolerate even a little sin.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
This church has a fabulous choir. There were about 50 voices and they sang a beautiful medley at the start of the service.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Just that the sermon was long. It could have been condensed into about ten minutes without missing any important points.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No one spoke to me after the service I would guess that they were all rushing to get home for dinner. The service was at an odd time 6.00pm and I felt as they did: hungry!
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I were looking for a church, I'd be delighted to make this my church home, despite their ultra-conservative views on the role of women in church governance. It seems to be a good church.
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 wonderful music throughout.