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910: Zion, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
Zion, Chesterfield, England
Mystery Worshipper: Big T.
The church: Zion Church, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England.
Denomination: Assemblies of God.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.
The building: The building resembles a Methodist church, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was built as one. It is red brick and has the look of a castle about it. It also has a small spire, churchy type windows and is located on a main road with a modest car park opposite a busy petrol station. Inside, the church has plastic seats, and a balcony above. The windows are strange, with a dove that appears to have been set on fire painted on each one. The walls are plain, but the trimmings (roof supports, skirting boards and door frames) are bright pink, almost offensive! There is a large amount of wood at the front of the church, which contains a huge pulpit now housing an overhead projector.
The church: I have to admit, never before have I been in a church with such a healthy age range in its congregation. This really was a church that reached all age groups, each of which equally participant in the service. There was a large group of teenagers, old and middle aged people, with some children, but this was an evening service so I would suspect most of them attended in the morning. There was a great community feel to the church.
The neighbourhood: Being on the corner of a junction, opposite a petrol station on a main commuter road, the location is noisy. The church isn't in an estate, which means most people must have to travel in. The small car park therefore was over full, and because I arrived early, I was blocked in for an hour after the service! This wasn't great, but where else were people meant to park in such a busy area?
The cast: Jim McGlade, the pastor, preacher, teacher and worship leader. Kevin Crook was the visiting speaker, and John Revill was the speaker from Zion Church.
What was the name of the service?
Main service, 6.00pm.

How full was the building?
From what I could see (I couldn't see the balcony) there were about 90 people in the building. This made the church feel full, but not cramped, the ideal amount. I feel if I attended in the morning, there would have been more people there, thus overcrowding the worship space.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I walked in the door, there was a small corridor which was quite claustrophobic. Two girls (about 14 years old) were stood there, and had obviously been assigned to welcoming duty. I couldn't expect a firm hard hand shake from young girls, but nevertheless, one would have expected some effort from them. One of the girls plucked up the courage to speak to me, but as far as I could work out, it was in another language. It sounded like "Gloudish" to me, which was maybe "Good evening"? I couldn't decide. Other than that, there were no other welcoming stewards on the door.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not at all. It was one of those plastic chairs which stack, like you have in a school. The back had broken, which meant that unless you wanted to recline completely, you had to support your own weight. One of the legs was bent, too, so I wobbled my way through the service. The church is in need of some padded chairs; everybody was fidgeting by the end of the service.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It reflected the road outside: busy and noisy. There was a great anticipation in the atmosphere and everybody seemed to be stood around doing things. I never really worked out what they were doing. The lights kept flashing on and off until the ideal lighting was created, but the switches were on the other side of the door, making it impossible for the switcher to see what was going on. The reason for the car park being so full was that somebody appeared to have arrived in an aeroplane. On closer inspection, I discovered that the Mission Aviation Fellowship were leading the service and had brought a plane with them. Many people were running out to play on the plane, while others watched the slides of various planes flying on missions to help ill people. This was projected onto the wall behind the pulpit and became a little annoying, as there were only about 15 slides in the show.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight's service will be longer than usual."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Nothing: no Bibles, song books or anything. It wasn't just the congregation that didn't use any of the above; the leaders of the service didn't, either. I think this was the first service I have ever been to which has never used the Bible.

What musical instruments were played?
There was a band, consisting of, keyboards, guitar, bass and drum kit. There was a young boy on the drums, which worried me. Had the young people of the church felt the need for drums, and got little Tommy, who never played before, to start learning? I was soon proved wrong: he was very good and led the band well. Never judge a book by its cover!

Did anything distract you?
The song lyrics were displayed from an overhead projector. Why they didn't use the huge data projector, I do not know. When the band started playing, the data projector wasn't turned off, which meant that the words were faint due to the pictures of planes and ill people being projected on the same wall. The rolling pictures of planes were also very irritating. There was no need to have the same pictures constantly playing throughout the service. The leaders kept referring to the organisation as Maf (Mission Aviation Fellowship). This sounded a lot like naff, a slang word for rubbish, which made me giggle a little.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy clappy, but also very sincere. We only sang two songs, but the church really got into them. I hope to return another week to see a full worship time. The songs were a bit dated (e.g. "My Jesus, my Saviour") but this was still a good event.

Zion, Chesterfield, England

Exactly how long was the sermon?
The structure of the service was: opening song... prayer... 55 minute talk... closing prayer... song.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
3 – The prayer and worship leader (Jim) was really good. He made you hang onto his every word. He only spoke for a couple of minutes, usually to say who had blocked who in within the car park. The other two speakers were very boring, their voices weren't great, and their subject was incredibly repetitive.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon structure was as follows: Pilot flies to help people... people are helped... nearby person gets ill... pilot goes out of their way to help... nearby person is healed... we need your money to do this. Repeat for 55 minutes! No sermon as such, just these collections of stories. Although some were moving, it wasn't a sermon, nor a church service, as such!

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
A great community that knows how to worship God. The drummer was the business! The people were sincere. The age range was fantastic. The church was strong in numbers. There was a feel of God in the place.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Overhead and data projectors don't work when both are projected over one another! Plane slides don't make a boring speech fun. The car park would have had more space without a plane in it. The pink interior!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Well, a few people said "Hi" and chatted small talk to me. Jim (the pastor) gave me a good welcome. However, the first thing he said to me was, "Wow, you're a big chap!" – really? I never heard that before! Generally, everybody was very welcoming.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I can't comment on this. After getting lost trying to find the room which served coffee, I was a little disappointed when I actually arrived. I had no money on me and you had to pay for everything. Never mind. There was a good selection of drinks and food, more of a tuck shop than an after service drink.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I think the service was a one off. I would really like to go back and see a "normal" church service at Zion. It looked like a thriving Christian community. I would, however, have made that particular "service" a lecture, and not incorporated it into a service.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
No, to be honest it was a little boring. But I stress that I don't think this was a true representation of a church service at Zion.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The slides of the planes. They are stuck in my head forever!
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