|653: Maywood Community Church, Kansas City, Kansas, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: Churchlady.
The church: Maywood Community Church, Kansas City, Kansas.
The building: The building is over 100 years old. It's charming white clapboard, with a steeple like something I'd expect to find in a small Vermont town. It also has its own graveyard, which is unusual for a church in the midwest. A gymnasium has been added to the church; it is a separate building, connected by a covered walkway.
The neighbourhood: Kansas City, Kansas, is part of the metropolitan district of Kansas City, Missouri. It is rural, but close to a huge racetrack complex, creating the potential of some traffic problems.
The cast: Pastor Blaine Fye did it all. In addition to giving the announcements and preaching, he directed the congregational singing and the choir. The church has a youth pastor who probably would take over some of these duties, but he was out of town. The choir consisted of seven women and three men.
What was the name of the service?
Morning worship and ministry fair.
How full was the building?
It was comfortably full with probably 150 people (there is also an earlier service), and most of them were seated by the time the service started. I picked an empty pew near the back when I got there and by the time the service started, a family of six had squeezed in next to me.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A husband and wife welcoming team shook my hand when I came in the front door, handed me a church bulletin and told me they were glad I was there. There was no scheduled "greeting your neighbor" time, but I did chat briefly with a man next to me before the service.
Was your pew comfortable?
With a one- or two-inch pad on a blond wooden pew, it wasn't too bad, but the pews were a little too close together for knee comfort.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People, including the pastor, walked around greeting each other. I was especially impressed by the number of people teenaged and younger who welcomed the elderly with handshakes and hugs.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, everybody. Isn't this a beautiful day to come and worship the Lord?"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The hymnal was Sing to the Lord, and the pew Bible was New King James. Various versions of the Bible were used by the pastor during the sermon.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano and organ.
Did anything distract you?
As a church musician myself, I spent a lot of time wondering how the pianist and organist would leave the platform if they had a personal emergency. The only way out I could see was walking in the front of the pastor and marching down the front aisle. I also thought it was cute the way the women in the choir came in wearing their choir robes and carrying their huge purses.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship service began with a rousing rendition of "All Hail, King Jesus", a favorite of mine, followed by a faux-contemporary song from the 1960s. A couple of traditional hymns were scheduled, but the worship was a bit rushed due to the ministry fair to follow. There was an open time for people in the congregation to give their prayer requests, and probably 40 or 50 people mentioned a sick relative or friend, so this took quite a while. During the announcements the veterans were recognized for their service to our country (this being Veterans' Day weekend), birthdays were acknowledged, and two men came forward with their birthday offering. I haven't seen this kind of recognition of birthdays since I was a kid in my dad's church a generation ago and it took me back. The entire format of the service was very relaxed, but not silly or disrespectful.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes, but the pastor noted it was shorter than usual due to the ministry fair.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7-8. Not extremely deep, but very pleasant and easy to listen to.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Interestingly, the pastor used Elvis as an example twice during the sermon. He noted that Elvis' best-selling song of all time was the hymn, "He Touched Me". I wasn't sure how this fit into the sermon, except that we were in the middle of a seven-week series on "Finding God's Purpose for Your Life". The pastor noted that Elvis had died prematurely, presumably without ever really finding God's purpose for him, so maybe that was the connection. We were reminded that you can either waste your life or invest it. Five minutes into the sermon, the choir sang, "The Potters Hand", which fit with the theme of the service "Shaped by God for Service" (based on Ephesians 2:10 and Matthew 20:28 and other verses). God uses our spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences. No two people have the same combination of gifts, so God brings all these things together for a special ministry that only we can have. Some things that stand in the way of our usefulness are self-centeredness, perfectionism, materialism, lack of gratitude and wrong motivations. We are called to be faithful to God's purpose for us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The people in the congregation all really seemed to love each other.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing annoyed me enough that it was worth writing down. And I am almost always annoyed by something.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I got caught up in the crush of people going to the gymnasium for the ministry fair. After I spent about five minutes looking at the exhibits, the man from my pew with the big family approached me and handed me my car keys which I hadn't yet noticed were missing.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't anything, but fortunately I had a Diet Coke waiting for me in the car.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 I am partial to nondenominational churches, but this one is a little farther than I want to drive if I wanted to become regularly involved in church activities. In the words of the poet "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". This was really close, though, and I plan to visit again.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
That everyone in the community, except those actually in attendance, seemed to be sick.