Brisbane Baptists

Last Sunday I attended Bridgman Baptist Church is Brisbane. It meets in a sleek, modern building and has car park attendants wearing fluorescent livery to greet worshippers. Lest the 100-yard walk to the main entrance proved too much, a smiling gentleman driving a buggy offered us a lift. He cheerfully hailed his passengers and called down God’s blessing upon us as he went to and fro, operating his shuttle service.

The church really emphasised the quality of its welcome, with beaming stewards telling us how delighted they were that we had come. The main meeting room had only recently been opened; painted in grey with spotlights projecting incandescent swirls onto a huge screen. The worship leader told us how tired he was having spent the previous evening engaged in youth outreach. I didn’t know any of the songs, and neither did many others judging by the volume of the singing. Still, the worship group were very professional, offering a Christian concert-style performance. At several points we were asked to give the Lord and some of his deputies rounds of applause. You’ll have guessed that the singing was not a highlight for me; although the words were biblical, I felt as though I was being sung at rather than accompanied or even led. There must have been over 600 folk at this early, 8am service, with larger numbers expected at 10am.

The sermon was great. The preacher, Dr John Sweetman, though dressed in a surprisingly youthful manner, is Principal of Malyon Bible College and continued the church’s series on 1 Peter. He took an expository approach to the difficult verses about submission to kings and masters, skilfully applying the meaning to his twenty-first century congregation who suffer no bonded labour and have a Queen in name only.  

I was curious to know how they would administer communion to so vast a congregation. When the ritual was announced, appointed couples leapt up to various stations about the room, with communicants queueing up at their nearest counter to collect ‘the brid and the cap’, returning them to their seats. The offering was collected by passing around black plant pots. I wondered if this was a hint of the prosperity nonsense, in which churchgoers are urged to ‘sow their seed’ and see it grow. My sister, more generously, suggested they were better suited to stacking when not in use.

We had plans for the rest of the day, but the church offered coffees and refreshments in the lounge and a whole plethora of mid-week activities. Here is a church focussed on outreach and with a heart for the lost, especially the young. I pray God’s blessing upon them.