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2311: Hope Christian Church, Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia
Hope Church, Queanbeyan
Mystery Worshipper: Wldflr.
The church: Hope Christian Church, Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia.
Denomination: Hope International Ministries.
The building: They meet at the Letchworth Neighbourhood Centre, located in the Crestwood Estate and available for hire. It is a modern, clean and functional building, although small. The Centre is used as a childcare facility during the week, as it features a covered children’s playground and sand pit and is fully fenced. There is also a small meeting room and hall.
The church: They are a relatively new congregation, founded in 2009. They sponsor Bible study groups called Life Groups, and they also sponsor a mentoring programme. The faith community is mostly African and Filipino.
The neighbourhood: Queanbeyan, in southeastern New South Wales, was founded as a squattage by an ex-convict and innkeeper, and grew when small deposits of gold, lead and silver were discovered in 1851. Today the city is a centre for light manufacturing as well as sports, hosting an Australian Rules football team and a Rugby Union team. It is a government housing area, so is perhaps a lower than average socio-economic area.
The cast: The meeting was chaired by a person named Rodgers. Pastor Nonoi Condat was the speaker.
The date & time: 1 January 2012, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Church Service.

How full was the building?
Reasonably full, but then the main hall in the complex itself is not all that big. It probably would seat about 50-60 comfortably. There were about 35 people in attendance, made up mostly of family units.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a handshake and a friendly hello. A newsletter was handed to me as well.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a plastic chair, comfortable enough.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Noisy and chatty. The floor is timber so it had quite an echo in the hall.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Praise the Lord. It's good to be in the house of the Lord."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Bibles. All songs, notices and sermon notes were projected onto a screen.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard, guitar, and some kind of box that was sat on and beaten with the hands of the person sitting on it.

Did anything distract you?
The noise of the music and song leader and preacher was far too loud for the size of the building. There need be little or no amplification at all. The music produced was a cacophony! Very unpleasant indeed. The song leader fairly screamed into the microphone.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy clappy and very loud. According to their statement of faith as expressed on their website, "Expressions of worship include worshipping with other Christians, using musical instruments, singing and exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit." I'd say that's pretty much what took place, but it was all modern choruses and very bland in their expression. No diversity in the style of songs at all.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
50 minutes, but could have been an hour long by the time the speaker finished his post-sermon prayer.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 – Far too long! Pastor Nonoi Condat's style was OK in itself. It was a sermon, within a sermon, within a sermon. What took almost an hour could very well have been said in about 20 minutes. The preacher seemed to mention himself quite frequently. I got the impression that this church was rather all about him.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was about God opening doors of opportunity through our prayers. The challenge was to pray that this year would be a year of harvest for this church.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Unfortunately, due to the noisy nature of the building and the amplification, none of it struck me as being particularly pleasant.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Most of it: noisy, over-amplified, long-winded. There was also noisy music played after the closing prayer that made it difficult to want to chat with anyone. The song session and their resulting "singing in the spirit" was comical and seemed forced, as only a few seemed to be joining in at this particular juncture.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Due to the small confines of the building, it was easy to be spoken to.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
They have a shared lunch of various hot and cold selections. Very nice and conducive to having a chat. Very friendly people.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – I doubt that I could put up with the noise.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Not really. If I were not already a Christian, there would be nothing much here that would persuade me to want to become one.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The amount of times the preacher referred himself in his sermon.
 
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