Monday, November 9, 2009
Late yesterday afternoon I drove to St. Louis Park to worship with the Upper Room community. Upper Room is a church who started as a ministry within Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. If I have the story correct, they were spun off as a separate congregation within the last year.
I attended the Upper Room once when I served as the pastor in Plainview. They have always been very successful at attracting a large number of young adults to their community. When I attended a service at Christ Presbyterian a number of years ago I would guess that close to 400 young adults participated.
I’m always interested in learning from churches who successfully attract young adults to a faith community. So at ten minutes to five yesterday afternoon I got out of my car on a side street and walked to the building where they are worshipping. I wasn’t able to park in the parking lot of the building because there was no room. Upper Room is leasing space from Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in St. Louis Park.
At the doorway to the building many young adults were hanging out. The sanctuary was lit by a lot of candles. Candles in the chancel area, candles or lights (I don’t remember which) on the side of the sanctuary—candles all over the place. Music was playing as I sat down in the sanctuary. For me the mood was mysterious—and inviting.
The too-practical side of me wondered what the budget for candles is at the Upper Room.
The service started with congregational singing led by their Praise Band. The three songs we sang were ones I’ve frequently heard on KTIS. The lyrics were projected in three places in the sanctuary. After one song the lights in the room changed colors—I think from red to blue. The congregation—I would guess approximately 150 to 200 attended, almost all young adults—must not have been singing as loud as usual. The song leader encouraged us at one point to sing louder.
After the singing we watched a video of a dramatic reading by a woman who portrayed the women at the well—the story in John 4. It was very well done. As I watched it I wondered if the woman was a professional actor—the quality was that high. After the video Kurt Vickman, the lead pastor of the Upper Room—gave about a 35 minute sermon on the theme of the day, which was “Searching for Water.” This sermon is part of a series called, “Soul Cravings.”
After the sermon the Praise Band led us in more singing. During the singing we were invited to come forward and take a bottle of water. Different bottles of water were set on a table in the chancel. They were marked to share the different types of refreshment we are given by God. People could kneel down to pray and then take a bottle of water with them. I took a bottle marked, “living water.” It’s powerful to be reminded that God’s living water is actually alive within me. That bottle of water is now in my car and is a visible reminder of that.
After the service I talked briefly with Kurt Vickman. I congratulated him on the service and wished God’s continual blessings on his ministry and the ministry of Upper Room.
I have all sorts of take-aways from my experience. The main one is how cool it is for me to see young adults worshipping together and being a community living in the rhythm of Jesus!