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568: King’s, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England
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King's Church, Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, Sussex
Mystery Worshipper: Mother Clanger.
The church: King's Church, Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England.
Denomination: New Frontiers International.
The building: Clair Hall is a council owned hall that hosts a variety of events. It is a 50s/60s concrete style bunker that is fairly tastefully decorated inside and well maintained. The church also has its own premises at Elizabeth House – a converted Victorian house.
The neighbourhood: Haywards Heath is prime commuter country.
The cast: Meeting leader: Phil Haddow. Worship leader: Tristan Watson. Guest speaker: Simon Walker of Jubilee Community Church, Worthing.
What was the name of the service?
Main meeting.

How full was the building?
Mostly full though some of the regular worshippers commented afterwards that there were a lot of people missing.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The person on the door said "Hello" as we arrived while giving us a news sheet

Was your pew comfortable?
Padded chair – very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Buzzing. Lots of people greeting friends and drifting in to find seats. The worship band were playing.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We ought to get started now," spoken by Phil Haddow.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None – song words were put on an overhead projector and people had brought their own Bibles.

What musical instruments were played?
Guitars, drums and violin. There may have been a bass as well, but I couldn't tell from where I was sitting.

Did anything distract you?
This is my first MW experience so the thought of being spotted was enough to distract me.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was divided up into two sections, each of about an hour long. Part one was "worship" which was Spirit-led and consisted of choruses with plenty of arm waving as well as prayers and words offered by the congregation and leadership. Someone was also dancing. Nothing felt forced or manipulative and the whole thing felt very comfortable and peaceful. Part two was the sermon. Children stayed in for the first part of the service, and either joined in using the flags and the streamers provided or stayed with their family or friends. They left during the offering and before the sermon to go into groups, split according to their age.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
45 minutes – but it felt a lot shorter. The preacher managed to engage throughout.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Simon Walker appeared to speak without notes, illustrated points using members of the congregation and also used things from that morning's worship (which he couldn't have know about before) to reinforce his points.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He preached on various passages from Nehemiah, taking the story of Nehemiah's rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and showed how it was similar to us rebuilding the church and the people.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The worship was very good – the songs and the way they were played, the contributions made by the congregation – and it was lovely to see children genuinely enjoying themselves in church.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The parking. At the same time as the service, there was a cricket match on at the sports field next door and the car park is shared between the two. As the cricket match had started earlier than the service, it meant the car park was very full Rather than find somewhere else to park (like in one of the side streets) people were just parking their cars in whatever space they could find. This made it difficult to get around the car park when arriving later and when leaving after the service. It also meant that, in some cases, you had to wait for the person who'd blocked you in to leave before you could. Fortunately it had stopped drizzling by the time the service was over.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was with Major Clanger, so we didn't do lost very well. But people did come up to say hello and were very friendly. Phil Haddow made some comments about people who'd joined the church in the last few months, which suggests that they make newcomers very welcome and, as a result, they stay.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Plastic cup with a little holder so you didn't burn your hands. I saw the lady spoon the Nescafe Gold into the cups at the start of the service but it didn't really have that coffee taste. It was wet and warm more than anything else. There may have been cake or biscuits but I didn't spot them. Why no Fairtrade coffee?

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I lived in the area, then it would be a possibility but the church is too far away for this to be practical.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes – I really enjoyed the worship and learnt something from the sermon. (Believe me, that really is unusual!)

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sight of a large group of children at the side of the church bouncing up and down without any encouragement from the adults with them.
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