West Coast Wrap Up

What a trip.

Jeremy and I haven’t spent this much consecutive time together since I worked at Westside King’s in Calgary. Trapped in a sub-par American automobile for nearly 30 hours can do a number on a friendship – thankfully, ours survived. It was good to catch up, laugh, fight, talk about everything under the sun and give our iPods the greatest work out of their young lives.

The purpose of our trip, however, wasn’t to rekindle our friendship, but to make new ones – and that we did.

It was so great to hear and see what other disciples of Jesus were up to. I suppose if I were to suggest a common thread that pulled all these new forms of church together, it would be this: Curiously different yet uniformly incarnational. The communities that we visited had all started with a different slate, different mixes of peoples, various levels of funding and support, different ideas and hopes, yet all under the same moniker of serving Jesus in their distinctive culture and context.

How refreshing.

A few questions that arose from our visits affirmed some of our previous ruminations and introduced us to new ones. Thoughts like: Wow, mostly everyone is white; Why are there so few women in leadership positions?; Are full-time paid pastors a dying breed? In and of themselves, are these new forms of church financially sustainable models? None of these comments are a slight to any of the churches we visited, but merely general observations we’ve picked up on across the board. Hopefully we’ll be able to flesh these thoughts out as the project continues to bloom.

And now, a quick recap and some photos to keep you up to speed:

The Urban Bridge

Meeting formally in the Royal Alberta Museum, Darryl Muth and his partners are making a valiant effort to infuse Edmonton’s spiritual landscape with a space for spiritual seekers to center their lives around Jesus. I found them to be highly creative and true believers in the idea of leading by team.

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The Place
At ten years of age, the Place is arguably one of Canada’s first emergent type ‘church within a church’. Existing in a symbiotic relationship with Lambrick Community Church, it was interesting to hear of the different seasons this community has been through. We found Randy Hein to be honest and transparent through the barrage of questions.

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Emergent.ca
Simon Goff walked us through the beginnings of the website that is a part of Canada’s online emerging church community. Connecting people from different traditions and denominations, we began to understand even more how much influence the internet is having on churches and church leaders in this age.

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Poasis
James Kingsley and Ron Cole spoke on behalf of the people behind Poasis, an art collective that is seeking to understand the interplay and role of the arts in the life of the worshipping church. What a creative bunch! And how fitting for Vancouver Island! Beyond that what struck me was the sincerity in their approach. It was obvious they were in this to help connect people to Christ and also for the love of the medium of art.

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The Open House

Kyle Martin and Kristin Cato played host as they introduced us to the people and places that made up the fabric of their church community. Theirs is a hybrid church of sorts…part house church, part Sunday church plus a ‘community house’ that harbors church gatherings, interns, and sleepy film makers displaced by 3 time zones. Again here we found genuine, authentic people who lived for the cause.

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Living Room Church
Paul Moores spoke to us from his condo balcony of his dream to have at least one house church in each of the neighbouring condo buildings. Talk about contextual: His ‘target area’ is 2 or 3 square blocks, which is home to roughly 10,000 people in downtown Vancouver. The interview itself was a noisy one as just across the street from Paul’s building another condo was going up containing approximately 900 units…Or should I say, another church was going up across the street?

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Club 365
Mission BC, where the Fraser river had exceeded its banks by several feet, another freak of nature was underway. Scott Williams, a seasoned church planter, shared his story with us and the unlikely turn of events that had led him to this place and to the birth of club365. Working two other jobs, Scott told us of how he and his crew have but one day to prepare for their church gathering. Top to bottom, everything happens on the day of. Every Saturday, club365 goes into full swing in a full serve restaurant that is operational during their gathering. (On a side note, the restaurant owner has connected with God through club365 and the church itself pitched in to help remodel the establishment).

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Thanks again to everyone who shared their stories with us, gave us a place to sleep and food to eat.

Next up, I’ll be in Saskatoon in July, and Calgary in August. Then, in the fall we’ll be exploring some churches in Ontario and Quebec.

Lastly, we’ve still had no leads for eastern Canada…PEI, Newfoundland, NB, Nova Scotia. Also, there are a couple of stops we’d like to make in Winnipeg but as of yet have no way of getting out there. I’d be willing to speak for free at any type of church gathering for a flight out. If you can help out, let us know.