|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.
|1729: New Life
Providence Church, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Life Providence Church, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA.
New Life Ministries
A large modern structure with wide peaked roof and comparatively
short sides, with steeple behind. Upon entering the main doors
from the parking lot, one steps into a spacious lobby that leads
to the sanctuary. On the west end of the building is a fellowship
area for younger children. My first impression of the church
was one of cleanliness, neatness, and organization.
Their many activities are all described on their website. Of
special note is a benevolence ministry that helps members faced
with unexpected financial hardship. They also sponsor special
programs geared to all age groups from young children through
Virginia Beach, on Virginia's Atlantic coast, is a popular seaside
resort featuring a variety of recreational and entertainment
opportunities. Less than a mile away from the church is Regent
University (formerly CBN University), founded by American televangelist
Pat Robertson. The church is surrounded by a medical facility,
a financial institution, and the parking lot of a shopping center.
The praise/worship leader opened the service but never gave
his name. The Revd Dan Backens, senior pastor, was the leader
for the remaining time.
The date & time:
Saturday, April 11, 2009, 6.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
Saturday Night Celebration Service.
How full was the building?
The church was definitely at full capacity. The ushers had to
fetch some folding chairs. Until the children were dismissed
for children's church, there were quite a few people standing
along the sides of the sanctuary.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
After I entered the building, I was greeted by an usher in the lobby. He smiled, shook my hand and handed me the church bulletin.
Was your pew comfortable?
My chair was fairly comfortable. It was a stackable interlocking
How would you describe the pre-service
The church has something called a "pre-service prayer."
This commences 30 minutes before the service and was in progress
as I entered the sanctuary. It took me a while to figure out
what was going on. Every few minutes or so, someone sitting
in the congregation would approach a microphone, pray publicly,
and then return to their seat. The keyboardist played softly
during these prayers. This continued until 10 minutes before
the service. At the five minute mark, a countdown clock was
projected onto the three screens hanging down from the ceiling
at the front of the sanctuary. With the music softly playing,
it was a pretty reverential atmosphere.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Hello, New Life! Hello, New Life! Let's all stand tonight."
What books did the congregation use during the
There were no books. The songs that were sung had lyrics projected
onto the screens at the front.
What musical instruments were played?
I saw the following: keyboard, harp, violins, bass guitar, flute,
saxophones and drums. As a former flutist myself, I was sort
of glad to see a flute player.
Did anything distract you?
Because of the location of the section in which I was sitting,
people who entered were an initial distraction because they
passed through my line of view. In addition, one of the persons
sitting around me was wearing a perfume that irritated my right
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Not stiff-upper-lip. It was very moving and powerful. There
were many people standing with their arms raised, shouting to
the Lord. There was much clapping. New Life believes in the
charismatic gifts. However, I did not see anyone speaking in
tongues or giving public prophecy. At one point the children
played a song on color-coded hand bells, ringing them in response
to colored cards which the director held up. Those actual bells
had been played all over the world by different children. It
was very moving. When it was over, the congregation gave the
children a well-deserved standing ovation.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Pastor Dan Backens is very laid-back and personable.
He's also extremely witty and makes one feel relaxed. He doesn't
make one feel as if he's preaching at you. He's more of a teacher,
not a preacher. He did not veer off on tangents and pretty much
stayed on the sermon topic.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The sermon was entitled "The Cross and the Tomb."
It was about how to have victory in your life. Jesus wants us
to rise up and be victorious. The Cross pays a ransom, gives
me salvation, and causes my sins to be forgiven. The Tomb gives
me a new future, a new freedom, a new life, and victory.
Which part of the service was like being in
New Life prides itself on being a multi-cultural church where
people from varying ethnic groups can come together to worship
one Creator. I really enjoyed worshipping in a sanctuary full
of people from different backgrounds and cultures. Everything
from the worship team on down to the ushers was graced with
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Truly, there was really nothing of note to report. Everything
appeared to be orderly and well-organized. There were no noticeable
malfunctions or gaffes. I actually had a pleasant experience
from when I first arrived in the parking lot until I returned
back to my car. Good job, New Life!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No one talked to me. Perhaps, I need to work on my "lost"
face. I eventually walked through the children's area looking
lost, thinking that someone would ask me if I was looking for
a child. But no one did.
How would you describe the after-service
Unfortunately, there were no after-service refreshments provided.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 My church background is a non-Pentecostal one. Perhaps
that is why I generally feel spiritually uncomfortable in a
church that promotes or condones speaking in tongues or public
prophecy. I feel that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians
teaches a different doctrine regarding spiritual gifts than
the one to which this church adheres. Nevertheless, I still
had an enjoyable time.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Worshipping in a racially diverse environment made me feel unified
with everyone there and truly glad to be a Christian.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
However, the same people with whom I felt unified would, in
their haste to depart the church, ignore the prominent one-way
arrows painted onto the parking lot surface. Chalk one up to
|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.