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2186: Church in the Wind, Glendale, Arizona, USA
Church in the Wind, Glendale, AZ
Mystery Worshipper: Amanda B. Reckondwythe.
The church: Church in the Wind, Glendale, Arizona, USA.
Denomination: Independent. Their website states that they are ďa non-denominational full gospel church.Ē
The building: From the street, one sees a rather plain looking ranch-style house sporting a large "Church in the Wind" banner. Behind the house (as I later learned) is a covered outdoor canteen area with tables, stools and counters in front of a plain concrete block building that is the worship space. The inside is plain, with whitewashed walls and grey carpeting. In front are a lectern, drum kit, and a pedestal holding a stuffed toy lamb wearing a crown and away from which slithers a large stuffed serpent. On the wall behind all this is the image of a dove descending from fire. The right side wall is lined with photos of past church events; the left with drawings of motorcycle engines.
The church: Their mission is "reaching the lost for Christ" and they conduct a special outreach to motorcyclists. They hold a prayer meeting Tuesday evenings; worship service followed by ladiesí and menís Bible study Wednesday evenings; and worship service for families, along with childrenís class and youth worship, on Saturday evenings.
The neighborhood: Thirty years ago, Union Hills Drive, on the northern edges of the Phoenix metropolitan area, was undeveloped land way out in the boonies. Today it is lined with strip malls, housing communities and country clubs. Church in the Wind sits in a block of other small independent charismatic churches along with modest working-class houses.
The cast: A gentleman known only as "Pastor Mike."
The date & time: Saturday, June 4, 2011, 6.00pm.

What was the name of the service?
Worship Service.

How full was the building?
I counted about 100 chairs and they were about two-thirds occupied. Lots of heavily tattooed "biker types" in faded denim, boots, and leather vests (including Pastor Mike); some non-bikers in casual attire who arrived in cars.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Miss Amanda cut quite the figure as she came cruising into the parking area on her new Suzuki Boulevard C50 touring bike. But no one noticed, as there was no one else there. Just as I was about to pull away, several other motorcyclists pulled up. The bikers all introduced themselves and showed me where the real action was behind the house. There, in the canteen, no one else seemed to notice me. Once the service began, there was a "meet and greet" session where several people shook my hand, hugged me, or slapped me on the back.

Was your pew comfortable?
Metal folding chairs Ė comfortable enough.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Lots of visiting.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Whatís happening, Church?"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. Words to the songs were projected, along with announcements.

What musical instruments were played?
Electric lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, two female soloists.

Did anything distract you?
I found it great fun to study the crowd, especially the bikers. All ages and all sizes were represented, from small children to senior citizens, from the anorexic to the obese.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy clappy, with swaying, arm waving, hooting and hollering. It opened with the obligatory medley of contemporary Christian rock numbers, followed by prayers, announcements, the meet and greet, more rock numbers, and more prayers. I thought I heard some sotto voce speaking in tongues during one of the prayers. Then came the sermon, followed by a final prayer. There was no eucharist.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
50 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Pastor Mike spoke in a friendly, casual, conversational style. He glanced down at notes only now and then. "Amen" and "Praise Jesus" and the like were heard often from the congregation as he preached.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
His text was John 4:1-42, the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacobís well. This woman was an outcast among an outcast people, leading an unsavory life. And yet not only did she believe what Jesus told her, but she told others about Jesus. Jesus didnít have to perform any miracles for her; she believed on faith. We should spend our lives doing things that will strengthen our faith. Jesus is the answer to all of our problems. Jesus, who was a man who died on the cross a very long time ago, is alive as our personal friend Ė but only if we come to him. He died to be everybodyís savior, but we must make him our personal savior by obeying him. Donít come to church Ė come to Jesus!

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
When the contemporary Christian rock music Ė so monotonous, so repetitious, sung without variation by harsh, slightly off pitch voices, finally came to an end!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I thought that Pastor Mike could have made his point in a sermon one-third the length of the one he preached.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
After the sermon came a final prayer, after which people sort of drifted away. No benediction, no closing song (thankfully).

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee, bottled water, peanuts, popcorn and pretzels were available in the canteen both before and after the service. I had sampled the coffee beforehand; it was adequate. I really wasnít in the mood to stick around afterward, as the service had been almost two hours long and I was tired. As I was leaving, a lady who had been sitting near me said she hoped Iíd come again. One of the bikers who had parked next to me said, "Have a good one!" as he sped off.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 – This is not my style of worship, although I did find the people interesting. I may go back to study them some more.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
In spite of it all, yes. I thought Pastor Mike made some good points in his sermon even if it was too long.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The eclectic mix of people. And "Donít come to church, come to Jesus."
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