On Sunday evening I attended the Verkosto worship service in Munkkivuori, Helsinki. It was a unique worship service here in Finland and I was glad to have gone. As far as I know it is a one of a kind worshiping community in Finland.
A little info on the service – It’s a unique mixture of Pentecostal worship and Lutheran liturgy. It’s not often that you sing a Chris Tomlin song (in Finnish) to open the praise music, hear a sermon intermixed with the readings, and participate in Eucharistic liturgy all in one service.
Here’s my takeaways from worship:
1. The first impression is important. In this case, the first impression carried through the entire experience. People were warm, welcoming, and glad to be there. The people, and the culture of the worshiping community are authentic in a very real way.
2. It’s a diverse community. One sign of a healthy church community is that it has multiple generations. Verkosto has that – young, old, middle-aged, children, you name it.
3. People are actually welcomed here – I mentioned this in point 1, but it’s worth repeating. You can tell this not just by being greeted and spoken with at the door, but you can see it throughout the service. For example, children. Children are noisy and they like to be constantly moving. The Verkosto community has no problem with this. I saw children in the aisle from time to time and standing on the pews making noise too. No one thought anything of it.
4. Liturgy can mix with non-liturgy – if it fits of the context of the community. This service is such a unique mixture. I was wondering what communion would be like. I was pleasantly surprised. When it was time for people to go up for communion, just about the entire congregation (about 300 people) got up at the same time to go to the communion rail. People were glad to be going. I mean really happy to be going to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. That was awesome to see.
5. The people here actually believe in what they say they believe in. They believe in the power of prayer. They believe in Jesus. They believe in the Eucharist. They are authentic. And it shows.
Overall, this is a worshiping community that is alive and healthy. It was great to see and to worship with.
A side benefit for me – I discovered that I actually understood more Finnish than I thought. Yay!!