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782: Lenexa Christian Center, Lenexa, Kansas, USA
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Lenexa Christian Center, Lenexa, Kansas, USA
Mystery Worshipper: The Asian Anglican.
The church: Lenexa Christian Center, Lenexa, Kansas, USA.
Denomination: Assemblies of God.
The building: The building is huge! Think of it as "Six Flags Over Jesus". It's an enormous, cement monstrosity in the middle of a field in a suburb of Kansas City.
The cast: No one really introduced themselves. There was an unnamed African-American worship leader/organist (quite a feat, if you ask me), a choir director and one of the associate pastors who is the son of the senior pastor, Mike Purkey. Pastor Mike Purkey is pretty well known in Christian TV circles through his appearances on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Apparently, Pastor Mike was away in California so he could sing for TBN's annual Praise-A-Thon (or "Beg-a-Thon", depending on how you look at it).
What was the name of the service?
Sunday evening worship.

How full was the building?
Pretty full. I'd guess there were 1500 people in there.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Two greeters at the visitors' station went out of their way to make me feel welcome, pointed out where the bathrooms were and then asked me to sit up front so I could get a good look at the service.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, very comfortable. No pews here; instead there are very plush movie theatre fold-up seats.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The pre-service atmosphere was pretty charged. The choir was warming up and people were there early to sing along and watch them rehearse.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Did anyone come here to Lenexa Christian Center to worship the Lord this evening?" Followed by a resounding "Yes!" from the congregation.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books to be found in the pew itself. Just some random visitor card and some offering envelopes. The Assemblies of God folk are a Bible-toting people and everyone there dutifully brought a Bible and a notebook to furiously jot down sermon notes. At any rate, all of the words to the music and the Bible references were projected on these two gargantuan projection screens.

What musical instruments were played?
The standard Pentecostal instrument of choice: The Hammond B-3 organ, as well as keyboard, drums, tambourine and sax.

Did anything distract you?
It's hard to not get distracted in a Pentecostal church. The person seated to my left had a very bubbly personality and spoke in tongues through most of the service. Lots of handclapping, raising of hands and jumping up and down went on as well.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
There was a great traditional, black Gospel flair about the worship. The organist, who looked like he could be an American football linebacker, also led the choir and congregational singing. That's not an easy task, but he did it with confidence and excellence. You would have to be dead to not get caught up in the excitement of the praise and worship. "Happy clappy" doesn't even come close to describing the level of worship. Really, all of the singing was glorious. I was sad when the worship was over and we got to the sermon, which is another story.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
39 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
3 – It was pretty abysmal. I think the associate pastor was trying too hard to be funny. He had an illustrated sermon of a variety of sins. He lit up a cigarette and started to puff on it. He tried mugging to the choir, but some of them looked uncomfortable about the direction of the sermon. The point was that smoking wouldn't send one to hell, but it is a habit that can be destructive. He put out the cigarette into a glass of milk filled with chocolate syrup. I can't even remember what the milk was supposed to illustrate, but it was up on this long table. He was also wearing rubber gloves while delivering part of this sermon. Again, I must have blacked out or something and missed the introduction as to why the rubber gloves were necessary or what they were to represent.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
I'm really not quite sure what the bottom line of the sermon was supposed to be. It was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I was just glad when he was done preaching, because the choir came back out to sing for the invitation for people to receive Christ as personal Savior.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The rocking choir and praise and worship team was just heavenly. I hope that my mansion in heaven has the choir from Lenexa Christian Center in it!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
That sermon which just seemed to go on forever. Plus, this traffic jam of cars trying to get out after the service was just nerve-racking. That seemed pretty hellish, too, but that did soon pass.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. People who knew each other lingered to talk in the sanctuary and others stopped each other in the parking lot. The greeters were gone and people were headed to the parking lot to be the first ones out of there.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee to speak of. Just water fountains.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – I don't think I'd like coming here on a regular basis. The sanctuary, while huge, is a bit intimidating and overwhelming. Plus, I'd really like to stay away from hearing that associate pastor preach again.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
For the most part, being in church and worshipping the Lord with his people makes me feel glad to be a Christian, no matter what church I'm in.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The glorious choir and worship team, of course.
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