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Church is something that is still growing on me. I have transitioned some of the smallest and experienced some of the biggest in the world, and I think I can say that I am not overreacting. I guess there’s a benefit from being raised in a village ghetto and having had the opportunity to travel overseas.

Once again, I tallied attendance at another church in East Asia. This time, I chose to visit Island Evangelical Community Church. It was an interesting experience. It was different. Like SaRang Community Church in South Korea, there were multiple services. Well, two morning services, unlike SaRang that had around 3-4 morning services – and that was only for the English-speaking services. There was at least half a dozen Korean-speaking services at SaRang, so two morning services at Island ECC was ok.

Back home in the UK, we think the concept of an extra morning service is totally alien to us. If you want to see church growth, change needs to occur in some shape or form.

Reflecting back on Island ECC. The service is heavily media-driven, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it didn’t come across as a distracting way in communicating the order of service, or when it was streaming professional quality announcements. The media was professional and it didn’t come across as tacky, but it proved that this local church wanted to honour the LORD in every area of ministry as possible.

I was thrilled to have witnessed 8 baptisms (there are over 20 in total throughout the day), which was really good. There was a short professionally-made video that gave a tidbit testimony of each recently born-again Christian to how they came to faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. I was impressed by the quickness in the baptism itself. The stage for the baptism is behind the main stage, and it is designed in a way where a person dressed in a cool red baptismal tee would enter the pool from one end, and leave the pool at the other end.

The time of praise was interesting. We were singing CCM (contemporary Christian music) and it was refreshing to sing a new song of praise “Lord, I need you”, a worship song from Matt Maher (a practicing Catholic, CCM artist and songwriter). I personally like his worship songs, thanks to K-Love Radio (a popular Christian radio station from the States).

It was great to hear of local talent and seemingly both floors where the services took place had a separate band, but only the first floor would house the tech and audio desk, sermon delivery and baptismal tank. I wanted to experience in the all-in-one shop floor. I don’t know about you, but I feel blessed to belong to a local church that had at least 7 worship leaders, and at least 3 worship bands… and amazingly, we have just over 200 people. I also believe us Brits take pride in our healthy lungs, and being able to sing our voices, whether that be at football matches or in church. There is a resonating atmosphere in our singing. Of course, I exempt myself from the crowd, as I can’t sing!

The Word was very Scriptural, authentic, and empowering despite the senior pastor taking us on a journey in understanding the darkness of Jesus’ last hours to suffering and dying on the Cross. Mind you, that was only the first half of the message… next week is the more exciting message that I will be missing out, as it focuses on the Cross yet again, but this time – Christ is Risen.

I love that the church news has the structure of the pastor’s sermon, which is mainly the key references to Scripture that Pastor Brett Hilliard chose to share. There is even space to annotate, and fill in the missing words from the structured sermon, which is curiously categorised in the application section. It makes you wonder, if you want to take away God’s Word and apply it to your daily lives, write it down. I don’t believe Pastor Brett read from any scripts. He simply preached from the heart. He is either very literate in God’s Living Word, or he has a photographic memory. Either way, he is a blessing to Island ECC.

I had the opportunity to speak with the tech and audio team, not just to get a sneak peak behind the scenes, and drool over the awesome setup (see pictured), but also to encourage them, as it is often the most overlooked aspect of ministry. It’s amazing what money can do, as to make church look presentable and in ways professional, but as long as it doesn’t dictate what church should be, as to attract young people alone. Church should be the body of Christ, a fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ gathered to hear God’s spoken and written Word, not a platform to rake money from young adults.

It was also cool to meet some new faces, locally and abroad. I did find it a tad overwhelming, as anyone can go unseen (myself included). At least SaRang had an intros welcome at the start of the service to encourage visitors local and abroad to tell a bit about them themselves, often name and location is sufficient. Back in the UK, it is more obvious, and usually… not automatically, but usually people will approach newcomers during the course of worship service.

Overall, Island ECC is different. If given more time to stay here in HK, I would have liked to watch and listen to the Easter Sunday service, which no doubt I will try to watch online. Again, if given the opportunity and time, I would have liked to experience other evangelical churches in the region, including Watermark.

~Richard