On sunday 30th September Hall Lane recieved a Mystery Worshipper form the website Shipoffools.com.
"Dear Hall Lane Methodist Church
I was a mystery shopper 2 weeks ago. For a website called Shipoffools.com. The aim is to improve Sunday worship. Here is an advance draft copy - the editor may make changes. I was not sent to your church it was just the nearest church on our journey, my mobile phone internet connection, my sat nav and of course your website. I like your website but would love to see the worship time more prominently displayed on the home page. Thanks for a wonderful service and warm welcome. I wish you all ... the church members and Minister all the best as we strive to build God’s Kingdom on earth.
Mystery Worshipper: Local Preacher
The church: Hall Lane Methodist Church, Whitwick, Coalville Leicester. LE67 5PF http://www.hall-lane.co.uk
The building: Hall Lane Methodist Church was built in 1967. The aim was to build the church hall and then to build the church. They ran out of money once they built the hall. They meet in the hall which looks and feels like a place of worship.
The church: The hall is the worship area and the worship area feels spiritual and special. (Iwas far too nervous to take a picture inside so please take my word for it).
The neighbourhood: Hall Lane Methodist Church is situated on the outskirts of the village ofWhitwick on the edge of the town of Coalville. It’s a lovely village with an annual scarecrow festival.
The cast: Reverend Linda Coates and Worship Leader/Steward Natalie Missenden
The date & time: Sunday 30th September 2012 at 10.30
What was the name of the service? Communion Service
How full was the building? 50% full
Did anyone welcome you personally? I was welcomed personally by the couple.
Was your pew comfortable? Very comfortable soft blue individual wide chairs. I could have sat in the chair for hours. Normally the chairs are in straight rows but for this service the chairs were arranged in groups of 5 in a half moon shape facing the front.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? We arrived at 10.28 and they were singing ‘Be still’ which was quietly sang brought a peaceful atmosphere, before the service began.
What were the exact opening words of the service? Welcome to the service today. Today is back to church Sunday.
What books did the congregation use during the service? Methodist Worship Book and Methodist Hymn Book (1979)
What musical instruments were played? Piano
Did anything distract you? A momentary distraction when the Minister said the chairs have been arranged this way so you can move from group to group to talk to eachother. I was looking around thinking do I have to move!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what? Traditional worship
Exactly how long was the sermon? There was not a sermon as such. It was more a series of short addresses.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher? 9 out of 10. Reverend Linda Coates was filled with the Spirit and she paused and empathised words that she wanted us to remember.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? No sermon given, it was a series of short addresses.
The addresses discussed - how there are storms in our lives, the neonatal unit in a hospital and what sustains us through the storm and what builds us up. Between each address we spoke in small groups about our favourite foods and favourite music and hymns. The Minister said ‘I know all of my church members and they have let me share and help in their storms in their life’.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven? In our small groups we picked our favourite hymn to share with the congregation. When each small group feedback their favourite hymn the aim was for us to pick one hymn to sing. The preacher quickly realised there was a problem, we wanted 4 different hymns including ‘And can it be’ and ‘what a friend we have in Jesus’. She thought quickly on her feet and said ‘let’s sing one verse of each of the 4 hymns’ which was like heaven to me.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place? None
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost? I met many members of the congregation who were friendly and invited me to stay for coffee. As soon as the service ended
I was asked ‘Do you think we are a welcoming church?’ unsure what to say as I was a mystery shopper I paused. She added ‘we worry about how people experience our church from a newcomers perspective’. So I can answer now it is a welcoming church.
How would you describe the after-service coffee? Nescafé style coffee with biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)? 9 out of 10. The congregation was across a wide age range. The music was good and the congregation was friendly.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian? Yes