Mystery Worshipper: Rebirth2006
Church: Zion Praise Harvest
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 26 September 2010, 10:30am
Zion Praise Harvest is a university church. As a result, the church hosts services in the three largest university campuses in Perth: University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and Murdoch University. The church was situated in a lecture hall, in which I attend lectures twice a week.
They are passionate in reaching out to the university community, to the extent of even holding worship services on campus, which I find is a great way of reaching out to people who go to the respective universities. Although most of the people are Singaporean Chinese, there are also a number of Africans and Australians.
Perth was the first full-scale settlement by Europeans in the western third of Australia and was named according to the wishes of Sir George Murray, secretary of state for war and the colonies from 1828 to 1830, who was born in Perth, Scotland. As the capital of Western Australia, Perth dominates the Western Australian economy. It's a clean, modern, friendly city, popular with tourists. Perth is home to one private and four public universities. On Sundays, the Curtin University campus (where today's service was held) is extremely quiet except for a number of Christian congregations who gather in various lecture halls for worship. Zion Praise Harvest isn't the only church to make use of the campus for this purpose!
Patrick and Joyce Chen, senior pastors; Alison Tang, Ray Ong and Ronald Ong, worship leaders. The sermon (via video) was by Andy Stanley, a pastor from America.
What was the name of the service?Curtin LIVE.
How full was the building?
It was relatively empty upon entry, filling up as the praise and worship commenced.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived around 10.15am. Entering by the front door, I was greeted by a relatively stern usher in a suit and tie who said that they weren't ready, asking us to go to the foyer of the lecture theatre. When doors opened around 10.25, another female usher handed me a bulletin with a smile. We were also asked to greet at least ten people with a high five during a part of the service.
Was your pew comfortable?
This was the funniest part! We utilized chairs with desks just like in a normal lecture, but I found it really handy for palming my head on the desk during prayer. It was almost like worship during lectures.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The lecture theatre was buzzing with excitement, people talking to each other. However, the camera feed was on and we could see ourselves during that time.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Let's stand to our feet!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
We were given a bulletin with activities that we could take part in, as well as church information.
What musical instruments were played?
Two keyboards, two guitars, bass, drums, and four singers.
Did anything distract you?
The camera feed was placed on the big screen normally used for lectures. Because it was not a big hall, I would often spot myself on the screen. I also felt that the multimedia transitions were very sloppy.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Extremely happy clappy and loud! Many people were clapping, dancing, and raising hands. We watched a video from Hillsong Conference by American preacher Andy Stanley. We sang songs from Hillsong, Planetshakers, and even one from City Harvest, the church I attended in Singapore!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Pastor Patrick Chen told us that he had heard a sermon by Andy Stanley whilst he was at the Hillsong Conference this year, and that he wanted to share it with us. So we watched a DVD of Andy Stanley's preaching. However, the sermon was cut short because it ran over time. Andy Stanley had a strong American accent and often repeated his points as a method of emphasis, which I thought was a good way of remembering what he had said.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Andy Stanley extracted his idea of conflict with others from James 4:1-3 (don't quarrel amongst yourselves; rather, ask God to give you what you need). Our covetousness and lust for materialism lead us to blame other people, thus creating conflict. We should approach God instead of laying blame on others, which in turn exposes the secrets of our innermost desires.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
When we sang "Worthy is the lamb", the video feed cut to a multimedia projection of the names of God, which I found to be such a great way of visual worship.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Before the sermon a large number of announcements were made, each by different individuals. It would have been better if one person read off all the announcements. It felt like it was just dragging on.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone came to talk to me, but that was about it. I felt that people there were very surface based, superficial and cliquey.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It cost $2.00 and so I wasn't bothered to try any.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – Even though Zion does draw its people, I would miss the multiculturalism that my own church has. It would also take some time to get used to the very different church culture.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I'm glad I'm a Christian no matter what.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The multimedia slide of the names of God, and worshipping in one of the lecture theatres I sit in on a regular basis!