|325: Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, Charmouth, Dorset, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Berean Brother.
The church: Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, Charmouth, Dorset.
Denomination: Free Church (Pentecostal).
The building: Small village hall, but light and airy, looking out over neighbouring houses.
The church: They seem to be drawn from various traditions, and are obviously very concerned with fellowship and outreach. They have only been in existence for three years but already organize summer beach missions and have their own Christian shop in the high street. Very alive!
The neighbourhood: Situated in a quiet street off the road leading to Charmouth beach, world famous for its fossils. Visitors come from all over to hammer at rocks on the beach!
The cast: Not known.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Morning Meeting.
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full. Apparently some regular folk were away that day.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. In fact we were greeted by three or four different people. As we looked around they spotted us immediately as visitors and made a special effort to come over and speak with us and ask where we were from. Warm and very comfortable.
Was your pew comfortable?
Single stacking chairs. OK for the length of service.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
This is obviously a church of friends. Lots of enthusiastic "hellos!" Plenty of arranging post-service meetings and discussions. Vibrant and lively. There were young children, but they were relatively well behaved. All in all, a comfortable atrmosphere.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and a very warm welcome to you all, especially our visitors."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None overheads were used during worship. When the speaker got up, a lady sitting near us was concerned in case we didn't have our own Bible, so she hurried over with one of the church's stock.
What musical instruments were played?
None apparently the usual "man with a gutair' was away that week, so a lady stood up and asked us all to bear with them while they experimented. We sang along with a pre-prepared compilation of worship songs from CD and cassette. Strangely, it seemed quite natural and worked well.
Did anything distract you?
Well... I suspect that others might not have been bothered by it, but there was a young couple in front who were obviously very much in love, and showed it all the time. Lots of deep eye contact, arms wrapped round one another, dreamy smiles. I half expected them to start snogging, but mercifully we were spared.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Pretty much normal spirit-filled worship. Relaxed, happy and informal. You got the feeling that it would be all right to raise your hands or not, to skip around or not. In other words, it was OK to be yourself.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The speaker was a visitor from the Ichthus Fellowship in Loindon. I've given an 8 not because his style was that fantastic, but because God spoke to me through him quite directly. He was informal and obviously at home in this setting. He used acetates on the overhead projector which for me detracted slightly from the message, rather than reinforcing it.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
How Jesus no longer called his disciples servants, but friends, and how God is doing this today calling us back to basics of friendship with each other and seeking him first, rather than getting involved in church "stuff", no matter how good or worthy that stuff might be.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Now I come to think about it: the worship. As reported, it was done with pre-recorded music and there was no distraction of a "performance" from a worship leader. It was very uplifting, and it felt that God was really there among us.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
None really. Apart from the canoodling couple mentioned above.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Didn't get a chance to look lost. Immediately after ending we were spoken to by the couple sitting behind, then someone else brought a tray with tea or coffee on it. Another person thanked us for being there.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Quite good we were given a choice. Didn't see any biscuits etc., but I'd bet they would have been produced had I asked it was that sort of place.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 If I ever moved to this part of the world, this would undoubtedly be my home church. Great personal atmosphere, but with a big desire to see the kingdom of God extended.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absoutely, and more than glad deeply thankful!
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The leader had a "picture" to give the congregation at the start of the service, and it was spot on.