Mystery Worshipper: point of view UnawaresChurch:Church of the ApostlesLocation: Atlanta, Georgia, USADate the visit: Sunday, 9 august 2009, 10:30am

The building

Absolutely gorgeous – and also huge! The church is plainly visible from the road – no driving approximately aimlessly do the efforts to uncover this one, because that sure! The style is breathtaking, and the landscaping pretty and also tasteful. The key sanctuary functions a circular platform up former flanked by estimate screens and backed by stained glass windows. The structure sprawls out right into various chapels, classrooms, child-care/nursery facilities, and also probably much much more than I had the ability to see. Ideal of all, there room clear directional signs all over inside the church. In spite of the substantial size of the building, that was basic to navigate and also find whereby I needed to be, even if it is it to be the restroom, the bookshop, or the key sanctuary. Together the church is situated in one urban organization area, there was a huge parking deck (no fee for parking, that course).

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The church

This church is huge. There room thousands the members and attendees. Yet, regardless of the massive quantities of people everywhere, not when did i feel the end of place, lost, or unnoticed. It to be a really friendly, welcoming church. Its plenty of ministries are recorded on their website. The church is also detailed for the world-wide television and radio ministry, "Leading the Way."

The neighborhood

Church of the apostles is situated in an rich area the northwest Atlanta, top top a very busy key road.

The cast

The Revd Michael Amerhom Youssef, rector, performed baptisms and also preached the sermon. Other members that the fabulous praise team were not stated by name.

What to be the name of the service?

Gathering of the Body.

How complete was the building?

The key auditorium that the church, where I was seated, appeared to it is in almost fully full. Fortunately, I had actually arrived early on enough to acquire a great seat in the fifth row – an excellent view the everything, up close and personal! The balcony, i beg your pardon circled 3 sides of the auditorium, appeared to be not quite fifty percent full. The congregation to be a very great mix of ages – really young, really old, in between – and races. Most human being were dressed in your Sunday ideal (recall that the church is located in a fairly affluent area), while i wore mine usual black jeans, Christian biker t-shirt, and comfortable (i.e., well-worn) biker boots.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Yes! First, the civilization entering the building before me hosted the door for me and also said good morning. Next, one of the church women greeted me and also handed me a flyer advertising an upcoming event, inviting me to attend. Together I meandered roughly the foyer, avoiding at the various details tables, various people greeted me and also were really helpful.

Was her pew comfortable?

Yes, the pews to be padded and an extremely comfortable. The just thing not-so-comfortable around the pews was the they to be a bit too close together. Whenever anyone entered or left the pews, it to be a little bit of a squeeze because that them to obtain by.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Busy, upbeat, friendly. Human being were greeting friends, going to or from your various bible study classes, etc. Human being were really outgoing and friendly, going out of their way to present themselves come others. Almost everyone – members and visitors alike – wore name tags (available at the info desks). An excellent idea, ns thought!

What to be the exact opening words of the service?

I was enjoying myself therefore much, taking in the beauty, beauty of the sanctuary and also chatting through my pew-mate beat (who"s been going come this church because that a small over 2 years now), i forgot to create the under the opening words (oops, sorry). But they were something follow me the lines of "Welcome to the Church that the Apostles."

What publications did the congregation use during the service?

The holy Bible, brand-new International Version (large publish edition). No hymn books, as the words to the songs were placed up on display screens at the former of the church.

What musical tools were played?

Keyboards, violins, guitars, trombone, drums, and other tools that I can not check out from where I sat. The musicians appeared to it is in in a kind of mini-orchestra pit behind the altar, so ns couldn"t see every one of them.

Did anything distract you?

The only thing that distracted me was, well, me! I maintained looking around and trying to take in everything. The stained glass windows, each illustrating a different scene or picture, to be gorgeous. In spite of my non-conformist attire, not once did I gain any negative looks, no one did anyone protect against me or show up to be uncomfortable or unwilling to strategy me. By the finish of the business I had the solid and distinct impression that had I to be wearing Gucci, or had I to be a homeless human wearing rags, it would not have actually mattered to the civilization at this church. Castle were simply glad i was there, regardless of just how I dressed. And that is just how it should be!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Very upbeat! The prayer was a fabulous mix of traditional hymns, a couple of modern modern-day Christian worship songs, and also some standard praise choruses. Something because that everyone, and very well done. Some human being raised your hands and clapped in worship; some did not. This is a church where the happy-clappy and the much more conservative, reserved folks could (and did!) prayer side by side and feel ideal at home.

Exactly how long to be the sermon?

40 minutes.

On a range of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

10 – I have actually heard Dr Youssef preach prior to on the radio and also on TV, however never in person. That came throughout as being very genuine, sincere, dedicated, and truly passionate around knowing and also following Jesus, and leading others to know and also follow him! He gift the gospel and also biblical truths simply and unashamedly there is no coming across as a fire-and-brimstone guy. Every in all, I found his sermon to be a solid, well-balanced an obstacle and encourage to proceed living a life of complete obedience come Christ.

In a nutshell, what to be the sermon about?

Dr Youssef"s message was Philippians 1:27-2:11 (be humble together Jesus was humble), there is no unity the mind, home and church, it is impossible to have true joy. And without finish submission and also obedience come God through a real and critical relationship v Jesus Christ, that is difficult to live in unity. Sin block our connection with God and also others and also is the reason of strife and disunity. Sin keeps united state from experiencing true joy. When sin is repented of, dealt with and forgiven, unity can again grow and also joy will certainly be restored. Together followers of Jesus, us should have actually the same perspective that Jesus had when the walked this earth: an perspective of gift a maid to others, humble, compassionate, merciful, and also genuinely loving others. If Jesus was totally divine and also had every appropriate to mr it end his disciples, make them serve his every whim, the did not execute so. Instead, he made decision to limit himself to human kind and all the entails, also dying on a cross, so that we could come into relationship through him.

Which component of the service was like being in heaven?

Most of it! ns was pleased and also even a tad surprised by exactly how welcomed ns felt there, from start to end. More than likely the very best component of the totality experience, to me, was the worship. The music to be beautiful and the song were some of my favorites.

And which component was favor being in... Er... The various other place?

I"d need to say the parking garage. Parking garages and also I don"t gain along so fine – I"m forever gaining lost in them and also end up driving in one forever. On the upside, there were numerous Atlanta police police officers directing website traffic in and out, hence making my escape indigenous the maze much easier.

What taken place when you hung roughly after the company looking lost?

I felt for this reason comfortable and also at home, that was hard to look at lost. Ns did hang around the lobby for five minutes complying with service, throughout which time several civilization said "Hi" to me together they go by. But nobody stopped to chat, and also I eventually took the bulletin"s suggestion and asked in ~ the information desk for directions to the coffee reception. Also so, i still did not feel left out. So many human being had spoken to me and also struck increase conversations earlier that ns didn"t feel isolated in the least.

How would certainly you explain the after-service coffee?

Coffee to be great, as was the combined fresh fruit they had set out especially for first-time visitors. I gathered mine gift bag (which included two CDs and a slew that information around the church and its ministries) and settled into a corner, to effort to look at lost and alone again. No such luck – several human being came by and also struck increase conversations through me again.

How would you feel around making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

10 – from what I might tell, this appears to be a phenomenal, growing church. Everything was certain fabulous! Doctrinally sound, genuine, friendly, and with myriad ministries and also Bible studies and also classes to accomplish the needs of just about every demographic you deserve to think of. I live part distance away and am happy v my very own church, for this reason I will not it is in making this my church home. Yet I would heartily recommend this church come anyone! and were ns to move to Atlanta, Church that the apostles would absolutely be on my list of church to learn an ext about.

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Did the business make you feeling glad to it is in a Christian?

Yes, an extremely much so. Glad, and challenged to proceed a life that obedience and service!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days" time ?

How welcoming anyone was and how welcomed and component of the group I felt, regardless of the reality that this is a big, famous, TV church.