|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
Kingdom Ministries, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Kingdom Ministries, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.
Formerly Scarboro Gospel Temple, the congregation changed its
name to Global Kingdom Ministries when it moved into its newly
built church a few months ago (summer 2008). The new building
looks more like a very attractive theatre than a traditional
church, having a large, two-storey curve of windows that give
passers-by a clear view into the large atrium. In the atrium
are several trees, a coffee bar, a guest services reception
area, and a children's ministry registration table. The worship
area is an auditorium with a full stage, including theatre lights,
and well-padded cinema seats. On each side there is a section
of seating on a much steeper incline. There are two large projection
screens on either side of the stage.
The congregation is a multi-cultural mix of folks from the Caribbean
and South Asia, as well as a few Asians and Caucasians. There
was a mix of ethnic backgrounds represented among the many musicians,
although the worship leaders themselves were all Caucasian.
Scarborough is a very ethnically diverse part of Toronto. Global
Kingdom Ministries is located immediately across from one of
the poorest and most violent subsidized housing high-rise complexes,
cruelly named "Tuxedo Court". The new church is just south of
the busiest highway in Canada (the 401), with a McDonald's on
one side and low-rise industrials buildings on the other.
Pastor Rob Johnston led the service, assisted by Pastor Terry
Johnston (his wife?). The preacher was Dave Toysen, president
of World Vision Canada.
The date & time:
Sunday, October 4, 2008, 10.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
This is a church that has obviously worked deliberately at welcoming
visitors! There were attendants directing traffic in the huge
parking lot surrounding the church. I must have passed a half
dozen official greeters as I moved from the front doors through
the spacious atrium into the worship area. They each shook my
hand and said, "Good morning." One offered the latest glossy,
colourful newsletter. One of the ushers wandered informally
into our section and greeted various folks with, "Nice to have
you join us this morning." After speaking with us, he told us
he was off to say hi to his grandson. A friendly welcome, but
Was your pew comfortable?
Although there were plush upholstered theatre seats, we spent
at least an hour and a quarter singing and praying on our feet
for the first part of the service. When the time for the sermon
finally arrived, a seat never felt so good!
How would you describe the pre-service
Pleasant pre-recorded instrumental music was playing, and people greeted each other enthusiastically. I would say about half the congregation arrived well after the service began.
What were the exact opening words of the
"It's time for praise. Let's praise Jesus!"
What books did the congregation use during the
Most members of the congregation brought their own copy of the
Bible, which was used only briefly during the sermon. There
were no other books used – the words to the hymns were
projected onto the large screens.
What musical instruments
There was a Korg electronic keyboard placed on top of a large
grand piano (gasp!) which was never used. There was an amplified
acoustic guitar played by one of the lead singers, as well as
two electric guitars, a trumpet, flute, drum set, bongos, triangle,
tambourine and bells.
Did anything distract
Although I am rather partial to the idea of using projection
screens as a way of getting people's faces up so they can better
worship together, it became increasingly strange to be looking
at the large image of the preacher on the screen rather than
at him – and he was directly in front of us. It must have been
weird to be speaking to a group of people who are all looking
to one side or the other, but rarely at you.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The worship was definitely "happy clappy," since the first few
songs (of nine or ten in a row, I think) involved congregational
clapping. Most people did not sing along with the worship team,
though some raised their hands and a lot clapped. It was obvious
that folks were becoming tired of clapping for so long. There
were basically three sections to the service: about 40 minutes
of singing (although I didn't know any of the songs, I thought
some were quite beautiful, and beautifully performed by the
soloists); then about 35 minutes of people coming forward to
be prayed for by a long line of ministers (lay and ordained),
including "ministers' wives." As they were prayed for, the worship
team led the congregation in simpler quiet songs. There was
a lot of speaking and singing in tongues, and at least one person
was "slain in the Spirit," and was left unattended on the floor
for some time before she was encouraged to sit up again, with
two women rubbing her back. At the end of this very chaotic
prayer session (or was it before?) Terry Johnston recited a
long pastoral prayer, naming particular people and issues, in
what became an increasingly emotional and harsh-sounding voice.
Finally, the sermon: almost an hour in length! Pastor Johnston
had to introduce the final hymn with, "Please folks, before
you leave, let's just sing this final hymn together." There
was only one short passage of scripture, only briefly spoken
about; no Lord's Prayer; no familiar hymns and little communal
singing. Almost all of the worship experience, besides the standing
and clapping, was a performance by those on the stage.
Exactly how long was the
58 minutes – the longest sermon I have ever heard. And it was
pretty good, too!
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
7 Dave Toysen's message was received well by the members
of this obviously extraordinarily active and mission-minded
church. He warmed up the crowd by telling them about his own
Pentecostal upbringing (he's an Anglican now). He very effectively
alternated between horrendous facts about world poverty and
heart-felt stories of his own experiences in the various countries
he has visited as part of World Vision.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
He began by reading the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)
as the foundation of all mission work: Christians are stewards
of God's gifts and should be risk-takers. He spoke about the
need for the Church to be concerned not just about evangelism
and helping those in need, but also to be actively involved
in creating justice at home and around the world. Salvation
is not just an individual thing, but involves communities working
together for justice.
Which part of the service was like being in
The soprano soloist who led several songs at the beginning had
a truly beautiful, clear voice, and she masterfully led the
congregation through quieter moments and transitions to different
songs. Also, finally being allowed to sit down was a huge, heavenly
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
An hour and a quarter of standing felt liturgically sadistic!
In addition, this was my first attempt at being a Mystery Worshipper.
I could hardly believe my stupidity when I realized I'd handed
in my checklist during the offertory instead of my Mystery Worshipper
card. I was absolutely sure that a note would go up to the worship
leader and that I'd be outed before the service was over!
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
The majority of people crowded the atrium making a quick retreat,
but a few were gathered in clusters having coffee together.
I eventually approached a man with an usher nametag, gave him
my offering envelope with calling card enclosed, thanked him,
How would you describe the after-service
Although I didn't have time for coffee (after all, the service
was two and one-half hours long!), the refreshments afterwards
really did look delicious.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 I am an Anglican, so I was very comfortable with the
preacher's style. But I missed having a common liturgy. Being
able to pray the same words together with others is important
to me, although I did appreciate the lengthy improvised prayers
in which many of the congregation participated.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
I was glad to be with people who were obviously excited about
their faith, who clearly work hard to make their music beautiful,
and who have an enviable new building. Yes, the service made
me glad to be a Christian, though I did feel uncomfortable with
not knowing what was going to happen next. Always being at the
direction of the worship leaders felt somehow a bit demeaning.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.