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  1037: Equippers, London School of Economics, London

London School of Economics

Mystery Worshipper: froggiesmoocher.
The church: Equippers, meeting at the London School of Economics (LSE), London.
Denomination: Independent.
The building: The service was in the old building of LSE, in the theatre. This is a large, white buliding and the entrance is an archway. The service was signposted and the church had signs outside; otherwise it might have been easy to get lost, as most buildings round here look pretty similar.
The church community: Equippers is new here. They have only been meeting for six months.
The neighbourhood: The area is mainly taken up with LSE, although Lincoln's Inn isn't too far away. Most eating and coffee places around the church are closed on a Sunday, although a bit further down Kingsway there a couple of pubs. This location is quite handy for Covent Garden, Aldwych and the Strand.
The cast: Steve Kelly (who was the preacher), Bruce Monk and Mark Collard.

What was the name of the service?
All out Sunday.

How full was the building?
I'd say half full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived rather early (about 30 minutes before the service) and so I had plenty of opportunity to look lost and bewildered. I hovered in the hallway and was approached by a couple of people who explained what was going – they were conducting a sound check, etc. – and introduced me to some more people. Part of the service was to say hello to someone you hadn't met before, so there was a lot of opportunity to meet new people. This seems to be genuinely a friendly place.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a comfortable chair with an arm rest, which was ideal for making notes on a pad.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
We were not allowed into the theatre until about 10 minutes before the service, due to the sound checks, so people were generally catching up on the week's happenings and finding out who had been at the conference which had finished the day before.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Hello, how are you? Let's clap our hands."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
It was assumed that everyone had their own Bible with them. The songs, which were mainly from Hillsong, were projected on a screen behind the band.

What musical instruments were played?
Two guitars, a keyboard and drums.

Did anything distract you?
There was a guy on the front row, in a green top with the number 10 on it, who really got into the "I will dance before my Lord" thing at one point. The choir was interesting to watch, with their hand jives – there not being much room on the stage to do anything else. Flower pots were used for the collection.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Lively – the kind of worship where people jump up and down and there is lots of hand clapping. There were about five people with mikes as well as a choir.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
30 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Steve Kelly started by promoting his CDs, which were left over from the conference, and which he said would be confiscated when he entered Canada. He also wanted an "amen" from us after every point that he made, and if it wasn't loud enough, then we had to repeat it.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Choices, based on Deuteronomy 30:11 onwards. God asks us to choose life or death, and we must choose life. The three points he made were: 1. The choice is not too hard. There is a degree of difficulty, but Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. 2. The choice is not "in heaven" – there is a time to pray and a time to do. Do you pray about which socks you put on? 3. Nor is it "in the depths of the sea" – which means that not everything is the work of the Devil, and that our actions and choices have consequences. For example, if you spend more than you earn, you will end up in debt.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Steve Kelly explained the phrase "my yoke is easy" by getting two guys to walk around the stage pretending they were oxen ploughing. One was the more mature ox (Jesus), while the other was the new ox (us) getting used to the yoke. He also told us that two-thirds of the word "God" is "go". A guy with spiky hair playing the guitar admitted to making a mistake in one of the songs, which showed me that this was somewhere where people can admit their mistakes, learn from them and move on. All of which I found quite refreshing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There should have been a video during the notices, but they couldn't get it to appear on the screen. Also I don't appreciate someone giving a few words before the collection. If I want to give, I'll give; I don't want to be guilt-tripped about it.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I spoke to the people sat next to me whom I'd met before the service and was introduced to one of the senior ministers of the church and the pastor. This gave me a bit of background on the church, including the fact that they've only been meeting for six months, and they have to carry the equipment from service to service. I would have stayed longer, but I was gasping for a drink.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't any! They are not allowed to serve drinks in this venue, and are moving the service to 4.30pm, which will allow people to go for drinks or a meal afterwards, which help to build community.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – It's somewhwere I might want to go to every now and again.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it was good to be among people who generally seem to care for one another.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Seeing two people walk around the stage pretending to be oxen!
 
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