|974: The Gate, Dundee, Scotland|
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Mystery Worshipper: Son of a Preacher
The church: The Gate, Dundee, Scotland.
Denomination: Non-denominational. Pentecostal in worship style.
The building: It is a large church with spire that appears to have been taken over from another denomination.
The church: The Gate holds two services on a Sunday morning; the second is a repeat of the first. They are involved in a number of ministries, including youth prayer groups and social events, Christians Against Poverty, and Alternatives (counseling and help with unplanned pregnancies).
The neighbourhood: The Gate is located next to the University of Dundee's campus, very close to the city centre. Nearby on Perth Road are a number of other churches.
The cast: Worship leader was Layla Brown and the preacher was Gordon Stewart, senior pastor.
What was the name of the service?
Second service (11.30am). I had wanted to attend the first service (9.30) but had trouble finding the church. Perth Road is several miles long, which I did not realise when setting off.
How full was the building?
Pretty full. A good 200 plus in attendance, with the ground floor fully occupied and some people in the galleries.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A handshake and brief "good morning" from two student types on the door. They didn't look at ease, which suggested that it was either their first week on the job, or welcoming is not their ministry.
Was your pew comfortable?
No. Wooden pews. Very uncomfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very noisy. People talking, walking about, etc.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to the Gate. I'm Layla Brown."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Words to the songs were projected using a Litepro.
What musical instruments were played?
Worship band with keyboard, guitar, drums, etc.
Did anything distract you?
The empty case of what used to be the organ stood behind the worship group. Painted green and framed by curtains, it now houses the projector screen. The overall look was rather like a Punch and Judy set. There were also some fishing nets strung up and a lot of expensive looking electrical equipment and wiring on show.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Free style of worship with modern songs, some dancing in the aisles.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The preacher's text was Isaiah 61 - the anointing to preach the good news. A summary of how to receive, remain in, and use the anointing to spread the gospel.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
One young lady came forward to give her life to Christ.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
We were asked to "say hello" to our neighbours when the children were leaving for Sunday school. I shook hands with a few people, who clearly didn't want to enter into conversation. I was then left to stand looking stupid and embarrassed for some considerable time. The DIY collection entailed walking up to the front and placing the offerings on a plate. Unfortunately the aisles were so tight that it was very difficult to get to the front.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. A few people exchanged glances with me, but that was it. After five minutes of embarrassment I left.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The pastor mentioned refreshments but it was not clear where they were.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 Good worship and teaching, but very unwelcoming. At one point the pastor mentioned that the regulars should "act as hosts and not guests," but his message did not appear to have been taken on board.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes in respect of the worship. No in respect of the welcome.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The Punch and Judy set.