As we sit in our beautiful edifices and stadium style churches, this is how the majority of the Christians around the world worship. Recently I have enjoyed church services in another country and thought of how many Christians in the modern church world, may never have experienced church elsewhere. So while on my trip, I decided that at one of the churches I attended I would take notes of exactly what happens. Here it is....
It's church time everyone! Some walk, some ride a bike, some catch a ride with the few car owners, but everyone gets there before church time begins.
Go inside the building..... It's hot because there is no air conditioning. But fans are scattered around in the sanctuary, it is light because of the windows lining the walls. It's a sparse building with a tile floor and plastic seats for everyone to set in.
Prayer meeting is first.... Someone begins praying over the microphone, there is no music to play along only the voices of people praying. Some stand, some set but all are praying softly.... For an hour.
Then Song Service begins.... there are no instruments or highly skilled singers to lead the service. Mostly songs are sung to a boom box of someone's CD's. Just sing along with the taped voices and join in loud and clear. On the upbeat songs people dance, on the slower songs they dance too. And then often sing other songs without any accompaniment, just the bare sounds of the young and old voices.
The electricity goes off in the midst of a song. No mic now for the leader and no fans. Everyone keeps on singing... Eyes closed and hands raised. Sweat pours down mixing with the tears as they sing on while the temperature rises.
Suddenly a truck goes past outside full blast with engine roaring. Keep on singing and ignore the distraction. Someone shouts a curse outside and a drunk homeless man comes into the service and sets on one of the chairs beside the pastor on the front row. No one stops him.
Song service is over with the ending of the CD playing or its just the voices that kept on singing when the electricity is off.
Then the people open their eyes and hear the pastor's voice and he is speaking about offering time. Quietly they stand and bring their money to the 1 basket beside the pulpit. In the quiet of shuffling flip flops and shoes the sound of simple coins plop into the basket as each person puts their offering inside. It's not much money by the sounds and also the simple dress of the people, at some point the electricity comes back on and a dog starts barking outside.
Then a widow testifies with great emotion of a personal miracle of a personal healing. There is no music to accompany this person. Just their voice in grateful emotion telling of the release of pain. The congregation smiles in agreement as many have their own miracle stories as well.
The children rise and all leave the service with one or two ladies, going somewhere else to have a devotional together. It's done quietly.
Then the preacher comes to give the Word. Those who have Bibles stand when he begins....He prays.... Starts teaching and another vehicle goes by outside this time blaring an announcement about a coming social event. We cannot hear the pastor because it is so loud. This happens 5 times while he is preaching. People turn their heads to try to tune out the distraction and hear what's being said. Sweat starts dripping down our backs. Then a car goes by and backfires BOOM. No one jumps as this is normal to them. He starts to give his altar call for salvation and special needs AND someone turns on another soft song from a CD again..... but another car goes past blaring loud music and it drowns out the service music for a moment. No one looks up they just stay patiently with bowed heads. Then a few people rise and go to the pastor for prayer. No mechanics here to drive the service, only the simple heartfelt prayers of a pastor. Some people are weeping as he prays for them, and we can hear their crying sobs.
After prayer the pastor calls the widow to come back up to the front and he tells everyone that she has no stove to cook on and that she really needs everyone's help. So people come forward and gives another offering of coins to her. The pastor weeps when he starts to pray for her obvious need for help.
The Church service ends with the singing of one more song. Sweaty everybody hugs sweaty everybody. They feel secured and encouraged .... Church was good. The homeless man leaves .... No one accosted him, he just sat through the service.
This is how thousands and thousands of Christians enjoy their church services. Was it as good as yours? Will the genuine believers stand please.
It's humble and often feels awkward to the American church goer as there are no outside support systems to assist the service.
But it's certainly filled with genuine and strong faith.
Will the rest of the Church around the world please stand!