It’s one of the more unusual events to take over U.S. Bank Stadium. Thousands of Christian music fans are expected next week to pack the Minneapolis stadium, which will also host an enormous pillow fight seeking to set a new Guinness world record.
Organized by Pulse, a Christian evangelical movement based in Minneapolis, and supported by hundreds of local churches across the Twin Cities, the May 18 event is the first major religious event to be held in the Vikings stadium.
It’s also the first time up to 50,000 fans will find pillows under their seats and be asked to whack their neighbor.
“This is the first time there’s been anything faith-based at the stadium,” said Nick Hall, founder of Pulse, which hosts evangelizing events across the country. “The pastors and churches of the Twin Cities have really led the way.”
The Rev. Rob Ketterling, lead pastor of River Valley Church, a mega church with seven Twin Cities campuses, is among the biggest fans. His church made a $200,000 lead gift for the free public event, which will cost more than $1 million to roll out.
Ketterling also has encouraged his network of Christian leaders to join in.
“We’d love to have the largest [Christian] youth rally in history here,” Ketterling said. “Usually about 18,000 or 20,000 people is doable. To get to 50,000 — that hasn’t happened before.”
To date, more than 700 church leaders have signed on to support the event, including evangelical denominations, Lutherans and Catholics, organizers said. Church leaders have pledged to bring delegations to the stadium, donate cash and help with any follow-up to connect concertgoers to local churches.
Pulse hosted a training event for pastors earlier this year to help them make that connection.
The event will feature popular Christian music artists Lecrae and Hillsong Young & Free, as well as a performance by the dance crew Jabbawockeez. It will be an upbeat experience geared toward teens and young adults, said Hall. But folks of all ages are welcome.
Many churches will be busing their youth groups to the event, said Ketterling. All 60-some bus permits for stadium parking have been requested, he said.
The event has caught the attention of Mike Lindell, inventor and CEO of MyPillow Inc. He wants to break his own Guinness World Record for the biggest pillow fight at the event. The current record was set when 6,261 people had a MyPillow fight at a St. Paul Saints game in 2015.
So for one minute during the event, fans will be asked to grab their pillows and gently whack a friend or neighbor. A Guinness representative will be on hand to witness and verify the pillow fight record, Hall said.
In recent months, Pulse has been working with hundreds of volunteers to prepare for the concert. This week, for example, crews were putting up advertising posters and banners at churches across the Twin Cities. Other volunteers have been recruited to usher, direct parking, assist with the accompanying food drive and provide other logistical support during the event.
Manpower aside, the sheer cost of hosting such an enormous event can be a challenge, acknowledged Hall, whose organization is still seeking corporate sponsors and fundraising.
“There’s a reason concert tickets usually cost $100,” Hall said.
But there’s no price tag that can be put on what could emerge from the event, said Hall, who describes it as the biggest Christian outreach event in decades.