Does Mystery Worship have a future?

Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
On another thread I expressed the wish . . .
That Mystery Worship will revive and thrive. I seem to be the only one filing reports lately, and I don't like to monopolize the feature.

A Shipmate replied in part:
I think there are a variety of reasons for why we maybe haven’t had more. . . . It can be harder to concentrate when watching an online service. . . . You’re not immersed in the service like you are in person. . . . I’m pretty much just watching a TV show. It may be a meaningful TV show, but it’s not really worshipful for me.

Add to that, I think many watch virtual services knowing they’re not really what would be happening if people were gathered. They may be shorter, some bits may be dropped or shortened, there’s not the music or singing there might be otherwise. . . . Plus, a number of the MW questions don’t really fit . . . the kinds of questions and answers that really give one a feel for a church as a whole, not just an impression of those in the chancel. Without them, it seems to be just a partial picture, if that makes any sense.

I don't take issue with any of that.

And yet I know that there are many Shipmates who tune in regularly to virtual services. They must be getting something out of them, or they wouldn't bother. I myself have tuned in to several. Some were meaningful and worshipful, some were not. Certainly even the best virtual service cannot inspire one in the same way that a meaningful, worshipful in-person service could. But it's the best we can do under the circumstances.

Mystery Worship has always been about how a church service looks to an outsider, a first-time visitor. Oftentimes the Mystery Worship project has been criticized as mere reviews, critiques, nit-picking. It is not that, although admittedly some reports do lean in that direction. In the past, some reports that were filed were rejected without being posted because they leaned too much that way. Others that leaned that way were posted after being mildened up via editing.

But the very best reports have always been an unbiased account of what the worship experience was like for the reporter as an outsider, a first-time visitor. "O wad some power the giftie gie us" and all that.

From my point of view, there is no reason why a report of a virtual service cannot present the reader, who may be looking for a virtual service to attend, with an honest and complete account of what the experience was like for the reporter. Of course it was abridged. Of course it was lacking elements that would be included if the service were being conducted without restraints. But was it worshipful for what it was? Was it meaningful for what it was? Was the reporter glad he watched? Would he watch again -- or, better still, would he attend a live service at this church once it is again possible to do so? Or was it nothing more than watching a TV show or a movie of a service? Was it impossible to get a feel for what that particular church is really like?

Yes, there are a number of questions in the MW questionnaire that don't seem to fit virtual services. Did anyone greet you personally? Of course not, but was a greeting extended to those watching on-line?

Was your pew comfortable? Few of us have pews at home, but what about your desk chair? Your lounge chair if that's where you watched the service from?

What happened after the service when you hung around looking lost? Well, of course that didn't happen, but how did the service end? Did the YouTube or Facebook feed end abruptly or gracefully?

And of course there was no after-service coffee, but did you have lunch after the service ended? If so, what?

Indeed, several reports of virtual services have been filed over the past several months. Unfortunately, most of them were mine. I don't like to do that. I don't think I should be monopolizing the feature, and I try not to. But of the reports filed, mine as well as others, some were of services that were almost -- almost -- as good as the "real thing." Others were clearly TV shows or movies -- slick, well put together (and in some cases not so slick and sloppily put together), but still far from the real thing.

I don't want Mystery Worship to die. I want to see it continue to thrive. But I can't do it all by myself.

What is the future of Mystery Worship?
«1

Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited December 2020
    Well, as the Shipmate who replied on the other thread . . .
    Mystery Worship has always been about how a church service looks to an outsider, a first-time visitor. . . . But the very best reports have always been an unbiased account of what the worship experience was like for the reporter as an outsider, a first-time visitor. "O wad some power the giftie gie us" and all that.
    I agree completely.

    Yes, there are a number of questions in the MW questionnaire that don't seem to fit virtual services. Did anyone greet you personally? Of course not, but was a greeting extended to those watching on-line?

    Was your pew comfortable? Few of us have pews at home, but what about your desk chair? Your lounge chair if that's where you watched the service from?

    What happened after the service when you hung around looking lost? Well, of course that didn't happen, but how did the service end? Did the YouTube or Facebook feed end abruptly or gracefully?

    And of course there was no after-service coffee, but did you have lunch after the service ended? If so, what?
    But how comfortable your chair is, or what you had for lunch, tells the reader nothing at all about the church, nor does it allow the church to learn how a visitor experienced his or her visit. It’s simply irrelevant to the report.

    I wonder if there should be some different questions to use for virtual services—questions that reflect the different constraints (and opportunities?) of the virtual medium. What platform was used, and did it allow for any interaction? Did any welcome reflect there might be visitors, or did they seem to expect “their own” only? How easy was it to access the service? To find out how to access it? Were resources, such as a bulletin/order of service or graphics, readily available so that you could follow along and participate? Were visitors at informed about and invited to take advantage of other ways to connect with the church? How was music handled? Was the service live, pre-recorded, or a mixture? Were there any means by which those worshiping could, if they wanted to, connect with each other before, during or after the service?

    And as you say, did it make you want to check them out in person when able to do so?

    I’m sure there are other, possibly better, questions.

    As another who’d very much like to see MW continue (and I do think that it’ll be better when more people can gather again, though I also think virtual service are here to stay), I’d be interested what some of the regular MWers think.

  • ISTM that the feature may just be on hold until Covid-19 is beat back enough to enable comfortable in-person visiting.
  • @Amanda B Reckondwyth do you have a sense of how the typical pre-COVID Mystery Worshipper report would come to be? I’ve never done one myself, but anecdotally, my sense that many people were doing them when they were travelling and away from their home parish for whatever reason, which for obvious reasons isn’t happening much right now. I think there’s some basis for optimism about a return to greater normalcy bringing MW back into something more like normal operation.

    That said, I’m inclined to agree with Nick Tamen that it’s worth thinking about tweaking the questions a bit for virtual worship - perhaps a separate Virtual Mystery Worshipper stream if something of the sort is practicable. The whole “how well did they translate their service to the Internet” angle would interest me as a reader and I imagine is something that some people might be interested in writing about.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    St Sanity is now back to live services (with very strict restrictions on numbers allowed, no congregational singing, lots of social distancing and so forth) and we're no longer travelling electronically to attend church. Good memories of some churches, including Old St Paul's in Edinburgh - we were pointed in that direction by a Shipmate - and a couple in Melbourne. But those are memories only at this stage and it would be impossible to put a proper report together.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    At the beginning of lockdown I was looking for local churches streaming Mass and thought this would be a good time to send in a Mystery Worship report. My drafts were not right -- the makeshift church experiences online were different and sometimes confusing and the flippant tone didn't fit, the questions didn't touch on what needed to be said. I also kept thinking I'd need a compressed sociological history to explain township or rural mission churches to Ship readers based in the UK or US.

    I've always enjoyed reading Mystery Worship and found it helpful when travelling and looking for a church to attend in some unfamiliar city. Perhaps the format could be more flexible or other kinds of input considered?
  • DardaDarda Shipmate
    I am quite a fan of MW reports and regularly check in to see if there are reports from the previous Sunday. My own church life is centred round membership of my local church, and the Sunday service is only a part of that. Even in these days of online services, I have stuck to the offerings of my own church and not really looked elsewhere. Pre Covid, reports seemed to come from quite a small group of dedicated people who presumably made a special effort to visit a lot of churches. I suspect that many of us either do not want to do this, are physically unable to, or have lives centred around one locality. In "normal" times, I might perhaps attend two or three services away from my local church during the year, and it might be quite fun to report on these. However, as a "MW outsider" it appears that I would have to go through a specific application process to become a reporter, and this doesn't seem worth it just to submit a couple of ad hoc reports. I'm sure the system was set up for good reasons, but might a looser and more open approach attract more reports?
  • As one who has submitted just a few Reports, I would say that the application process is by no means onerous, and it's certainly worth signing up even for one or two services per year.

    The more who do that, the more reports Miss Amanda has to edit, but I'm sure she won't mind!

    Some creativity is perhaps necessary when reporting on a virtual service, but the end result will be no more the worse for that.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Thank you all for raising these concerns. Let me try to address them without quoting.

    Under the old software, I as Lead Editor was able to edit the questionnaire form. Not that I did so often -- but there were one or two questions that I thought could use some refining, and I always ran my suggestions by Simon before I actually made any changes.

    Under the new software, however, everything is programmed into the code, and I don't have access to it. Changing the questionnaire would involve retaining the services of the programmer, and I don't think he would do it pro bono.

    Answers to questions such as what platform was used, was the service easy to access and did it allow for interaction, were visitors made to feel comfortable or was it a closed club "members only" thing, etc. could be -- and, in many cases, have been -- worked into answers to the existing questions.

    My sense of how Mystery Worshippers approached the project in the past is, of course, colored by my own experiences. When traveling to a distant city, I always tried to visit a church in that city and report on it. When I stayed at home, I still tried to travel to nearby neighborhoods or suburbs, but was not shy about reporting on churches in my own neighborhood, especially those of denominations different from my own.

    As for the virtual services I have reported on, I have tried to choose churches that have been in the news, or which are famous in their own right, or which are located in interesting places.

    As well, we have always encouraged reports on newsworthy church services: seating of a new bishop, Royal visitation, historic commemoration, funeral of a dignitary, closing of a church, and the like.

    I am encouraged by the positive comments people have made. As for becoming a Mystery Worshipper, the application process is not difficult. In the sidebar of every report is a link to click on if you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper. There are no more than a half dozen or so questions in the form, and once you submit it, you're more likely than not "in."

    In short, Mystery Worship is what we make it to be. If a new questionnaire could be developed to reflect more accurately the conditions under which we are forced to worship these days, that would of course be ideal. However, as explained, I don't think that's likely to happen. I do think, though, that we can work around the limitations of the present form in order to produce interesting and meaningful reports.

    While the feature remains in the doldrums, however, I would like to resurrect some old reports from the archives and feature them from time to time on the MW home page, as I did with the Nativity report. Epiphany is next.
  • This.

    Archive reports are always welcome to us readers - if only as a reminder that Fings Ain't Wot They Useter Be...!
  • Thanks for the very helpful explanations, Miss Amanda. Yes, I see how a separate set of questions ain’t as easy as it sounds. Perhaps just a page somewhere with suggestions on adapting the set questions? I do think MW reports on virtual worship can certainly be interesting and can be that giftie that others gie a church.

    As I said, I think we’ll see a return to MW normalcy when we see a return to real-life normalcy. I certainly hope so!! And I do like the idea of resurrecting some of MW’s archival reports!

  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus
    Times change and so do peoples’ expectations. With so many other review sites nowadays, I fear that MW may just be seen as another review site. I appreciate that MW is very different from the likes of Tripadvisor or Google Reviews due to its unique format, but just like the reports are how a church looks to an outsider, we need to think about how the reports appear to an outsider.

    When I joined the Ship 20 years ago, the idea of an online magazine was still a new and exciting concept and the Mystery Worshipper was by far the biggest feature of the magazine, so much so that it had quite a large team of editors. If I ever mentioned Ship of Fools to anyone, the first thing they invariably mentioned was the Mystery Worshipper by name. I heard it mentioned in sermons at various places. There was almost a “badge of honour” to have been visited and to have a report published. It was so influential that sometimes churches even approached the Ship directly and asked to be reviewed. The feature was unique to the extent that The Ship once threatened a Church of England diocese with legal action for using an almost identical format in their diocesan newsletter. It was even alluded to on the TV comedy series Rev, albeit under a different name.

    But that was then and this is now.

    Nowadays if I mention Ship of Fools I often get a blank look. Those who do remember the Ship say something along the lines of “is that still going” often followed by “do they still do that church visitor thing?”

    So what could be done? I wonder if using the exact same format that’s been in use since 1998 is the right way to continue. Perhaps the questionnaire could be changed to be a set of guidelines for writing the report rather than answering each question. At the very least, it would need some sort of relaunch to reach a wider audience.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited January 2
    We would be saddened were Mystery Worshipper to go west. We greatly appreciated the special series which AtA has presented on his Camino pilgrimages, but it's been more than that. Simply seeing the variety of churches in which people worship and the varying forms of worship has been extremely interesting. Perhaps it's because we are far away from almost all the churches the subject of report, perhaps because our (Anglican) churchmanship is at odds with most of our own diocese but much more common elsewhere. Checking for new Mystery Worshipper reports is how we start each day's Ship browsing and then there's a check-in from time to time through the day.

    As for Spike's comments: Those who do remember the Ship say something along the lines of “is that still going” often followed by “do they still do that church visitor thing?” - that shows a remembrance of one feature of the Ship when others have been forgotten.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Speaking for myself, Mystery Worship has been an eye-opener. I have attended and reported on services in a variety of denominations that I didn't know even existed, let alone would ever have thought of visiting. And I have read reports on services in many more. Not to mention the variety of locales that I will most likely never have the opportunity to visit. I remember commenting in one of my reports, "When will I ever again get to hear the Bishop of the Winward Islands preach?" And that was at a church in New Jersey!

    I've often wondered whether the churches that begged to be visited regarded Mystery Worship as a novelty, an entertainment almost. All entertainment eventually loses its novelty. Most Brits I've talked to are surprised to learn that here in the US we were still watching and enjoying the likes of "Are You Being Served?", "Absolutely Fabulous" and "Keeping Up Appearances." (All but the latter have disappeared from our airwaves now, and if truth be told the latter is rapidly losing its appeal as well.)

    I see Mystery Worship primarily as having educational value rather than entertainment value. Augustine the Aleut's several Camino de Compostela pilgrimages are a prime example. Visits to churches in denominations such as Ancient Church of the East, Korean Presbyterian Church, Restructured Church of the Holy Spirit, and Charismatic Episcopal Church are another.

    That is not to say that reporters can't continue to sprinkle a bit of "salt" into their reports. I remember showing a report on a Greek Orthodox church to one of my friends who was born in Cyprus. He was especially amused by the comment re "People were lighting so many candles that I am sure the place would have burned to the ground had not a little old lady all in black been blowing them out as fast as they were lit."

    And occasionally we get the "gag" report, such as reports on the Rapture and the Papal Conclave, which are purely for entertainment purposes.

    I am encouraged to learn that many Shipmates are still consulting the MW page first thing when they browse the Ship. I would like to see more reports filed by a greater variety of reporters. I agree that we may be able to rework some of the questions to bring them more up-to-date, but I for one would be gravely saddened if the feature were to die.
  • So would I, but I think that the present hiatus is inevitable, given the problem not only in holding services, but in getting to them!

    Certainly in the UK, travel, holidays, etc. etc. are all severely curtailed, so that the (legal) opportunities of getting to a church that is open are much reduced.

    As regards the format, and the questionnaire, I think they should remain as they are, apart from any minor reworking Miss Amanda may come up with.

    Speaking of whom, may I take the opportunity of thanking @Amanda B Reckondwyth , not only for her own Reports, but also for the hard work she puts into the project as a whole?
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited January 2
    I attended my Dads zoom church on xmas day - they chose to have a kind of personal performed story instead of a sermon, the hymns were selections from YouTube of various kinds and I think the service was morning prayer. (My dad was following along an order of service in a folder I didn't see so not sure.) And then they had a kind of chat breakout at the end. (Different people on the zoom call did readings at different points.) All the people were zooming in from their own homes. It felt v intimate.

    This I think is very different from some churches broadcasting a service from within a church that you dont interact with. Though I noticed they did mute everyone than the person leading at any given time and muted during the hymns - which seemed sensible in the circumstances. (Unmuted during the breakout.)

    I had to leave in the middle to sort out the turkey or I'd do you a proper write up.

    It felt such a positive thing - they were mostly elderly folks like my Dad (83) and they'd adapted to keep their fellowship going. It felt very warm and welcoming - Dad said it was smaller than usual because there was a bigger shared service later in the day with the vicar that some would have gone to instead. (Multiple parishes, one vicar - so this service was lead be a reader or deacon I think - no vestments so not sure.)
  • A question occurred to me Miss Amanda: Under the “normal” procedures as I understand them, a MWer leaves a card in the offering plate alerting the visited church to the visit, which in turn gives someone from the church the ability to weigh in or respond. Is there a way for a MWer to do this when worshiping virtually, without identifying him- or herself?

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Very good question.

    I sometimes e-mail the church at the "info" address given on their website, or at the pastor/rector/vicar's e-mail address, with a link to the report. I use my "Amanda B. Reckondwyth" e-mail address but I also sign off with my real name.

    I do realize that this would not be feasible for reporters who maintain only a single e-mail address. In that case I might consider snail-mailing the MW card to the church, using whatever return address on the envelope as fancy strikes me.
  • One of the built-in wrinkles is that the old Mystery Worship reports are snapshots of a church at that time. Recently there was a discussion on the Mystery Worship board about a report I filed nearly a decade ago. The report I'd written no longer applied, so was totally irrelevant and actually unhelpful. That made me wonder how useful these reports, other than historic reviews of specific events, are. Because out-of-date reports discussing a previous priest-in-charge may bear no resemblance to anything happening now.

    My experience of writing Mystery Worship reports was less positive as I only wrote reports for churches when I was away travelling, usually at Christmas and Easter. I had too many links with local churches not to know most of the people involved. Those reports often came with a pressure to produce Christmas and Easter reviews fast for publication. My memory is of sitting cross-legged on a bed, fighting to complete a rigid format on a tablet, using dodgy WiFi that kept crashing and trying to get something in that was fair, accurate and interesting enough not to result in additional questions and requirements that ate into my few days away - then seeing the final report changed, sometimes beyond recognition, in the editing process.

    I would also suggest that there is a problem with reviewing online services. Anyone can access most services, dropping in when they want, or even reviewing the service later in their own time. To access passworded Zoom or other services requires the people involved to use e-mail and/or other forms of identification making it harder to be anonymous.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Out-of-date reports discussing a previous priest-in-charge may bear no resemblance to anything happening now.
    Agreed. When the reports were ported over to the new software, 2005 was arbitrarily chosen as the cutoff date. Personally I advocated for a later cutoff. Even now, I tend silently to delete older reports of a church that is more recently visited.
    Reports often came with a pressure to produce Christmas and Easter reviews fast for publication . . . then seeing the final report changed, sometimes beyond recognition, in the editing process.
    We don't apply pressure anymore. Admittedly editing was somewhat heavy-handed in previous years but not so much anymore. Primarily we conform the report to "house style" so far as grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. go, and we supply detail when same is lacking (most especially about the building or the location).
    I would also suggest that there is a problem with reviewing online services . . . To access passworded Zoom or other services requires the people involved to use e-mail and/or other forms of identification making it harder to be anonymous.
    True, but they have no way of knowing which of the many Zoom attendeed is the Mystery Worshipper. Also, if you use gmail, it is easy to set up multiple e-mail accounts and to use whichever one you wish for whichever purpose.

  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited January 3
    I think some Zoom services have the added issue of privacy, as you may be looking in people’s homes rather than a public building.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Yes. Our SUnday service is hosted from either our priest's front room or the music room o our director of music -- we're not allowed to do anything from the actual church.

    On a previous subject, the church I then attended -- 14-15 years ago now -- received a very positive review of our Easter Eve service. Within a couple of years our worship space, our congregation and our rector had changed, so that anyone following the report would have been out in the dark and without shelter. Six months after that, the part of the congregation that hosted and ran that service had effectively dissolved and moved elsewhere. WHen I tried to get the (now completely misleading review removed) I was told (not by Miss Amanda) that only an actual warden could ask for a report to be removed.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I think the policy is that someone officially connected with the church can request removal after two years.

    Anyone, however, can file a comment to a report. A comment such as "Things were like that then, but are very different now" may have been appropriate.

    If you'll PM me I'll look to see whether the report in question is still up.
  • I wonder if you are starting from the right direction with these questions. I'd want to know:
    • How much traffic does Mystery Worship still attract on the site, and how much of that is unique traffic, i.e. people who don't already use the site discussion boards or magazine?
    • Are churches still requesting Mystery Worship reports? (I did one for a church years ago that wanted to get an outsider's view. That was interesting - also much easier to do) But I wonder if there is enough interest in MW reports from the general church going public for reports to be requested;
    • Have you asked the Mystery Worshippers no longer filing reports what changed? That could be as simple as a free Survey Monkey anonymous survey. I know some of the reporters, e.g. leo, have died, but, it could be involvement in their own church or other reasons meaning the MWers don't get away, it could be irritation with the process, but unless you ask, you won't know.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    edited January 4
    How much traffic does Mystery Worship still attract on the site?
    I don't know.
    Are churches still requesting Mystery Worship reports?
    Rarely.
    Have you asked the Mystery Worshippers no longer filing reports what changed?
    Due to GDPR I no longer have access to the database. But I believe Simon has queried them. The ones whose reasons I do know, however, mostly say that they have found a home church and are kept busy with it. A few have simply asked to be removed from the database. Two that I know of took issue with some editing decisions. One no longer files reports due to health reasons. At least one that I know of obviously had an axe to grind re certain personnel at the church in question and simply stopped filing when he was called out on it. And some, as you pointed out, have died. I know of at least three.
  • It seems that the present time could be especially good for mystery worshipping, as the travel constraint has been removed for visiting churches that have an online service. I've enjoyed the last nine or so months of visiting, but mostly places with ministers who I know. Perhaps there could be two formats - one for physical presence; one for the aetherial? (possibly covered above - I haven't read every word). How a church serves its people is at least as important now as in normal times, and being told how well we are doing it by an outsider must be helpful. I have certain difficulties with my own church and would very much like to hear what a relaxed and unbiased outsider has to say, now it's possible to visit from afar.

    I am another whose first exposure to the Ship was through a MW report, many years ago.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I have certain difficulties with my own church and would very much like to hear what a relaxed and unbiased outsider has to say, now it's possible to visit from afar.
    PM me its name and perhaps its web address and your wish may come true.
    I am another whose first exposure to the Ship was through a MW report, many years ago.
    Mine too, as a matter of fact.
  • Have you asked the Mystery Worshippers no longer filing reports what changed?

    As a very occasional MW who hasn't filed anything for a very long time... Generally speaking, I'm tied up with my own church and can only file reports if I'm away somewhere out of Diocese (apart from the extreme south, I know too many of the local clergy).

    1) I haven't been away for a while (really? I wonder why?)
    2) I do routinely return to some areas, which have already been MW'ed
    3) I'm increasingly finding myself choosing to have a holiday from church as well if I am away.

    That said, I am also beginning to feel the need to look at online services other than my own congregation so if I do so, I may try MW again.

  • Closet DruidCloset Druid Shipmate Posts: 35
    Like several others it was an introduction to the Mystery Worshipper that brought me to the "ship" where I lurked for quite a long time.
    I have always been interested in the diversity of the Christian Church and of different traditions and practice, so the MW reports were always of interest. So the reports useful and informative in that I could see somethings that could be improved in my ministry as a Reader and also in the way that my church approached things.
    My regret is that neither of the last two churches that Mrs CD was responsible for (10 years and 4 years respectively) received a visit from a Mystery Worshipper. An outsiders comments would have been helpful.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Where's Mary Poppins, dropping in from the sky with her umbrella unfurled, when we need her so badly?

    So many churches, so few active MWers. :cry:
  • My last church - a Victorian chapel - actually had places at the ends of the pews where people could leave their umbrellas. Like this: https://tinyurl.com/y4g9blhm. But - AFAIK - Mary never showed up.
  • DardaDarda Shipmate
    The only time I have had an umbrella stolen was when I left one in a church porch while inside
  • I am a MW but we haven’t been to any “new” churches over the last couple of years.
    When we moved to our current parish, I did a (non) MW report on the 3 churches in the parish and gave it to our vicar, who found it quite interesting as, at the time, it was an outsiders assessment. It also helped us decide which church should be our base.
    I often find myself mentally doing a MW report at our services, and would be interested to see what a MW would make of the services zoomed for Llandaff diocese, including our parish.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    As I said upthread, I don't want to monopolize the feature. If other Mystery Worshippers would step forward, perhaps you could send them links to the websites of the churches you're interested in seeing reports on, @Priscilla.
  • Our services are uploaded to Facebook,
    so if anyone is interested in mystery worshiping....
    There are also services from around the diocese on the site for Llandaff diocese.
  • Given we're not there in person to take pictures, do you want us to find online pictures, and send you URL of possible images?
  • Llandaff diocese has a site “Llandaff Diocese Community “ . My church isn’t on that, it has a separate site, and I will forward the site to anyone who is interested.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    kingsfold wrote: »
    Given we're not there in person to take pictures, do you want us to find online pictures, and send you URL of possible images?

    I like to do screenshots of the YouTube, Facebook, etc. service. Shift-PrtScrn on real -- oops, I mean non-Apple -- PCs, then Ctrl-V to paste them into PhotoShop or whatever other photo software you prefer to use.

    We can seldom, if ever, use photos found on-line, as they're usually copyrighted. Photos published under the Creative Commons license are OK to use -- this includes just about anything found on Wikipedia. We also consider photos found on the church's own website to be fair game unless they are clearly labeled as being copyrighted.
  • OK - I think there's a photo on their website, and I can go back & have a look through some of the youtube videos. I don't recall there being much from today's service, but previous services are available....
  • c52c52 Shipmate Posts: 31
    I enjoy MW and admire and am grateful to anyone who can write a precis of a sermon, or describe a neighbourhood or architecture.

    Have you ever had complaints that 'Did this service make you glad to be a Christian?' is missing the point?
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    No.
  • c52c52 Shipmate Posts: 31
    I am glad to hear it.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »

    I wonder if there should be some different questions to use for virtual services—questions that reflect the different constraints (and opportunities?) of the virtual medium. What platform was used, and did it allow for any interaction? Did any welcome reflect there might be visitors, or did they seem to expect “their own” only? How easy was it to access the service? To find out how to access it? Were resources, such as a bulletin/order of service or graphics, readily available so that you could follow along and participate? Were visitors at informed about and invited to take advantage of other ways to connect with the church? How was music handled? Was the service live, pre-recorded, or a mixture? Were there any means by which those worshiping could, if they wanted to, connect with each other before, during or after the service?

    And as you say, did it make you want to check them out in person when able to do so?

    I've just filed a report for an online service in which I participated. I have to say, it really wasn't difficult to answer the questions in a way that conveyed the online-ness of the experience, how the service was put together etc. It wasn't a livestream, which quite possibly made this easier as there was much more to say, but I don't think I would have struggled inordinately if it had been livestreamed...
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Apologies for reviving this thread, but this morning 4 new reports appeared. Different churches, different countries and different styles of worship, but the differences made interesting reading. We're half-tempted to make the move to Pittsburgh and at the same time eschew Anglicanism. The report together prove the great value of keeping this aspect of the Ship going.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Yes, there's been a little bit of an upsurge lately. I hope it continues.
  • I've always enjoyed doing reports, and found the Santiago series very satisfying to work on. I was about to set out again when the boom came down last year. Should all go well, I'm going to try from Valencia on the Levante next year, but we will have to see what happens.

    I had a pre-plague one for a Montréal church, but sadly it disappeared into the gehenna of a hard drive problem. I had hoped to do a second visit before things locked down last year, but with travel restrictions.... which I regretted, as it was a very interesting place. It remains on the list.

    I imagine that the re-flourishing of MW will follow on the return of open church services.
  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus
    I think this has been mentioned already, but some of the questions I reckon need revamping (or even removing), at least for the time being. “Did anyone welcome you personally?”, “Was your pew comfortable?”, “What happened when you hung around looking lost?” and “How would you describe the after service coffee” are all irrelevant at the moment with so many people reviewing online services. Replies like “my sofa is very comfortable” or “I made myself a gin & tonic” were quite amusing the first time, but after a while it becomes impossible to come up with something original.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    We can try.
  • Spike wrote: »
    I think this has been mentioned already, but some of the questions I reckon need revamping (or even removing), at least for the time being. “Did anyone welcome you personally?”, “Was your pew comfortable?”, “What happened when you hung around looking lost?” and “How would you describe the after service coffee” are all irrelevant at the moment with so many people reviewing online services. Replies like “my sofa is very comfortable” or “I made myself a gin & tonic” were quite amusing the first time, but after a while it becomes impossible to come up with something original.

    While I enjoy these comments as much as those on pews--- I have always found it challenging to do pew comments and now spend and inordinate amount of time in churches thinking of the pews--- perhaps we might have an alternative format for on-line services? They are an entirely different beast.

    In terms of commemorative services, some have argued that these are not everyday worship events. Perhaps, but they are the only worship event attended or noticed by a tremendous proportion of the population. Churchgoers can sometimes forget how bizarre and culturally foreign be our normal practices to non-worshippers. IIRC in my long-ago MW on the Abbey church in Roncesvalles, I think I referred to sitting beside a graduate student in literature who was trying to puzzle out what was happening at the altar from a few literary references she had seen in Caroline poetry and TS Eliot, as ætat 25ish, she had never been in a church aside from at a wedding. Curious about this, I was at an academic table a few years later, and found that a third of the table, tenured to a person, had the same lack of experience. Accounts of (e.g.) state funerals give us an understanding of what many people experience as worship.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Perhaps we might have an alternative format for on-line services?
    I think this was mentioned upthread. On the old Ship, we had access to the forms and anyone with a working knowledge of HTML could make revisions to them. However, the new Ship was programmed professionally, and any changes would have to be made by the programmer, who would expect to be paid.

    I think we've been coping admirably so far with adapting the form to on-line worship. Now that in-person worship is beginning to happen again with increasing frequency, I think we can tough it out.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    "Admirably" is a bit of an understatement - it's been done very well.
Sign In or Register to comment.