With Upper Room’s move to a new space earlier this month, we spent a little time thinking through what the set-up of a worship space communicates theologically. This article by Paul Louis Metzger (whose book Consuming Jesus we’re reading together now) raises some good questions regarding the use of space in Church. Metzger points to the coffee bar replacing the communion table in many large evangelical churches as “the place where real community happens”. He’s rightly disappointed by this because it’s indicative of our consumer-driven mindset, but he says that simply placing the Lord’s Table prominently in the room isn’t sufficient. Other elements in the space become media “for communicating the values of the gospel and deconstructing the values of our consumer culture.”
Three things are worth mentioning that aren’t obvious in these pictures: (1) The space is upstairs. When the space became available, we liked the idea of having a worship space in an “upper room”, because we liked the idea of ascending into a place of worship. Sometimes going up and down the stairs feels like you’re entering/leaving a different place. (2) We still use a projector to show the song lyrics on the wall from which the pictures are taken. The projector and computer, however, are hidden in the shelves of the round end-table in the top picture. This keeps the distractions from our own technology (hopefully) to a minimum. (3) We’re next to a movie theater. You can sometimes hear sounds from the theater or the nearby bowling alley when in the worship space. It’s not obnoxious or annoying, but it’s enough to remind us that we’re still in the world. I’d like to think that this will keep us from forgetting the importance of mission.
So, what does this space communicate?