Church review: City Harvest Church, Singapore

City Harvest Church in Singapore, known for its vibrancy and its staggering statistic of more than 10,000 first-time converts, is one famous church that few would have not heard of. If you have been keeping yourself informed of the current Mandarin pop scene, one of the founders of this church, Pastor Sun, is now a pop sensation in Asia known as Ho Yeow-Sun.

This church – highly known as one that differs from the traditional and rigid style – attracts mainly teenagers and young people, with more than 71 percent of their believers being first-time converts. What’s more, the church now boasts a $42.3 million (in Singaporean dollars, which is about US$25 million) building. When I saw it, I was so impressed! It has an underground four-story auditorium (which is pillar-less) that carry out weekly services and major events. This building is a surprise because it cost so much and yet the funds were raised in just six years. I seriously doubt that the Community Chest in Singapore (similar to Make-A-Wish Foundation in the U.S.) has received an amount even close to that in the last four years. Also, the church has all the largest high-tech gadgets, the best filming machines, fire system, security cameras and whatnot.

I never thought that a church could look like this. My church, a traditional Baptist church, still has what I always had in mind of a typical church: a huge cross on the wall, rows of benches, and the sound of hymns and bells in the air. Whereas in City Harvest, they actually have a rock band on stage, coupled with a few singers in the front and back leading you in worship songs. Sermons and preaching in City Harvest are very dynamic too, with pastors often gesturing you to come forward on your knees, and with tears there are believers around that all speak in tongues. Well, I can’t tell you how horrified I was the first time I was there. I wasn’t used to the whole environment, so hearing thousands of people worshipping in tongues just freaked me out. In my church, people worship quietly and pray in near whispers; therefore the totally different City Harvest Church almost threw me off my chair.

But I must say that this church is a really good place for socializing. It always seems to me that everybody knows everybody in this church even though every service has more than 1,000 people in attendance. People are very friendly and outspoken unlike my conservative church where people mostly keep to themselves. I came to the service with a friend and I left the church meeting eight new friends.

Although this church appeals to many teenagers, I must say I still prefer my traditional church where etiquettes are to be followed. A rock band and a good ratio of people my age might be attractive, but I still feel that traditional churches offer a sense of belonging that a new radical church doesn’t. People in City Harvest always seem to be going to services more for reasons of socializing than real worshipping because even before the service starts, there will already be plans for after-service outings. However, those who don’t like traditional and rigid worship can always give City Harvest a try.