Norwich church becomes God's great dancefloor
It started as a Norwich church worship service, turned into a TV chat show and ended as a full-on rock concert with former Delirious front man, Martin Smith, on stage surrounded by scores of children jumping up and down to God’s Great Dance Floor. Keith Morris reports.
Martin, wife Anna and their six children were guests of honour at Norwich’s Soul Church on Mason Road last night.
Personal friends of church leaders Jon and Chantel Norman, Martin and Anna, together with daughter Elle joined a nine-strong Soul Church band to create a very special atmosphere in the converted warehouse venue, packed with 560 people and filled with worship music, flashing lights and dry ice.
After 40 minutes of worship, expertly led by Martin, mascot Chunky Monkey came on stage to soak everyone at the front with his water pistol and take away the youngsters for some fun - but they could not possibly have had as much fun as we did.
Recognising that his congregation has been boosted by a large number of visitors from other churches, Jon Norman was spot-on when he said: “Sometimes we just need an excuse to all get together in one room and praise God.”
Jon prayed over the city of Norwich, that the walls of division between the different churches and organizations in the city are torn down.
The service then turned into a TV chat show as sofas were brought on stage for Jon and Chantel to have a cosy chat with Martin and Anna.
We discovered that Martin’s most memorable gig with Christian rock band Delirious, before they split up in 2009, was in Mumbai, India when the band came a cross a group of street workers (prostitutes) and their daughters whom they bussed into the gig – much to the consternation of the religious people who would never normally mix with the like of them.
We heard about the secrets behind a 21-year marriage which has had its highs and lows and which the couple had to fight for on more than one occasion.
“Only when Delirious ended did I realize what pressure we had actually been under,” said Anna. A hectic home life with six children aged between 7 and 18, plus an open door policy for anyone who wanted to just drop in, is part of the reason for a healthy marriage, according to the couple, as were strong role models from both set of parents.
“We were fortunate to find each other,” said Martin. “We also have a policy of no secrets, be open, be honest, be vulnerable."
“Lots of fun and great sex,” also helps according to Anna, “as well as good communication.”
“The more God gives you to do, the more you need to focus on family and home,” said Martin. “Remembering the small things like birthday cards.”
Today the couple help to lead worship at St Peter’s in Brighton, an HTB church plant which is now five years old and are involved in the Bright City UK creative arts project. Martin says he will always be involved in leading worship.
When Jon made an appeal at the end, a number of hands went up to accept Christ.
The evening rounded off with Martin back on stage dancing and singing, along with 560 others: “I feel alive, I come alive, I am alive on God's great dance floor” and nobody was arguing with him.
They were shouting for more at the end – when was the last time you heard that in church?
Pictured is the Soul Church evening with Martin and Anna Smith. Pictures by Daisy Mae Walsh.