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71: Elizabeth Street Chapel, Wellington, New Zealand
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Elizabeth Street Chapel, Wellington
Mystery Worshipper: Bruce Lewis.
The church: Elizabeth Street Chapel, Wellington, New Zealand.
Denomination: Open Brethren.
The building: Looks like an aircraft hanger from the outside, but there the similarity ends, as the inside is more like a business class lounge, with plush pews and bright decor. The only things missing are the view of planes taking off and some pre-flight nibbles.
The neighbourhood: The church leases the land next door to a tyre repair centre – which is rather apt, since they also cater for things worn out and deflated.
The cast: Pastor Nick Field, and speaker David Salisbury.
What was the name of the service?
Worship & Teaching Service.

How full was the building?
At start time it was 3/4 full, but by 10.15 all the seats were taken.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were greeted with a handshake and smile by Mike and a woman who had forgotten to put her name badge on (probably Mrs Mike).

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, as one would expect of a business class lounge, though being of a pew design, the recline option was not available. Not that we would have had time to use it (except in the sermon, when it would have been really useful) since we were on our feet for all of the worship time.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Relaxed, with a lot of chatting and catching up going on. I noticed that a few people were quite new to the church, or there for the first time.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Good morning, everybody. How are you? Welcome to Elizabeth Street Chapel.'

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The NIV Bible. Songs and choruses were on an overhead projector. I was a little disappointed to see the songs on acetate sheets, since on a previous visit they'd used state of the art technology (Powerpoint) to beam them onto the screen and dissolve into the next song. This was very much in keeping with a church that sees itself as being on the cutting edge.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, synth, guitar and drums.

Did anything distract you?
Some great microphone feedback during one of the prayers.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy clappy with a bit of aerobics in the 'kid's song'. Interestingly, most songs contained the word 'lift', and so people did.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
28 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
If the criteria were volume and yelling, then 9. Otherwise 4.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Don't give up the faith, stand firm (from Ephesians chapter 6). We're in a battle, how are you standing? I really wanted some practical help on 'standing firm', but all I heard was lots of 'in the name of Jesus' stories from the preacher's African missionary work that seemed a million miles away from being a follower of Jesus in 'absolutely positively Wellington'. Apart from which, he yelled too much for my wife, so she switched off too.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Hard to say, really. Since I don't like singing, I usually rely on the sermon to bring me closer to God. Unfortunately, on this occasion it had the opposite effect.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The long, eerie silence when the pastor invited those who wished to stand up for the faith to do so.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Fortunately, we knew a few people from previous visits, though there was an information desk for new people as a point of contact.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee and biscuits.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6. On previous occasions I've come away feeling a lot more positive about the place, though I'll be attending somewhere else next week since the speaker is doing a two-week slot.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Not this time.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
My wife's stiff knee from the aerobics song.
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