WHAT THE VISITOR SAW
BY RALPH M. MCGUIRE
I visited a Pentecostal church last week. You know, they are the people who are advocates of the apostles’ doctrine. Well, my first visit was a real shock. It was really different from anything I have
ever seen. I think they called themselves Free Pentecostal.
As I entered the door, I saw two young men wrestling in the vestibule. I guess the service had not begun. I worked my way through them unnoticed. As I entered the church, there was a commotion that one would expect at a picnic or sports arena.
The minister finally called the meeting to order after two or three attempts. The piano player’s introduction to a hymn sounded more like the jazz that you would hear in a night club. The singing was so fast I could not keep up, so I gave up.
The minister announced prayer time. During prayer I heard laughing. As I looked up, I saw only five bowed heads. Teens were passing gum back and forth, while notes were being exchanged like in study hall back in school days. At the other end of my pew an old grandmother was knitting. One older boy was helping another boy with his homework during the prayer.
I was glad when they were through praying, and felt that I would like to go home, but out of respect, I endured the rest of the service.
There was a new baby in the congregation. She was being passed up and down the pew rows and even across the aisles. When the mother finally had the baby back in her arms, for the benefit of those who might not have had a close look, she held the baby over her shoulder so everyone
could admire the cute little thing.
I finally realized the preacher had been giving his sermon, but I did not know the subject he was speaking on.
Someone had carved his name on a pew in front of me. My song book, with writing on the cover, had several pages missing.
When the orchestra performed, the girls placed their scarves over their knees, being modest, I suppose, because they are known as a holiness church. Their skirts were not mini, but short.
There was a continual procession to the rest room. I observed some making at least three trips during the service, with nods of approval by the parents.
The babies in the congregation were pacified by toys which they dropped so many times I lost count. They were the kind of toys that sounded like dropping a mixing bowl in the kitchen. They had a nursery, but I noticed it was empty. Two babies were crying at one time while the preacher was speaking. The mothers waited patiently for the babies to stop crying, rather than disturbing the meeting for just a minute by going out.
A little girl about thirteen passed a note to a boy friend apparently about the same age. Later, the note fell beside me on the pew. I could not help but read: “Let’s go to the football game Saturday night. Mom don’t care. P. S. More fun that Sunday School class Sunday morning.”
I must say the visit was a new experience, with never a dull moment. But I think I’ll stay with my old church, even though I am looking for a deeper walk with the Lord.