Article: A View of Alternative Churches

Pasted below is a short article about OSFA? printed by the Sarnia Observer. Thanks to Tyler Kula for the kind words.

Joe Manafo spent 18 months travelling the country to learn how people who don’t fit into the mould of traditional Christian worship celebrate their faith.

He spent $6,000 and, with video camera, visited every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, talking with people trying to find alternatives.

“These are churches and groups that, while the message is the same, the way it’s played out is completely different than an everyday church,” he said.

The result is a 45-minute documentary called, “One size fits all?” Manafo is planning a Sarnia showing in early 2009, but the specifics haven’t been determined.

One place Manafo encountered in Kitchener put on punk, metal, country or ska concerts four nights a week to pay the bills. And there are numerous other approaches to connect with people disenchanted with traditional church models, he said.

“That’s not to say that I’m making a movie about churches that are doing things right. There’s just a different flavour, a different style. They’re doing their thing, reaching their crowd, while these other, more established, mainline churches are serving their crowds.”

The alternate churches also tend to cut through what Manafo calls “pop Christianity,” worship that is plastic, all shine and only on the surface.

“Whereas more normal, more established churches are pretty much straight up, stoic perhaps, very much locked into a pattern, these churches are very experimental in nature,” he said.

“These communities very much connect with a crowd of people that wouldn’t necessarily fit in ‘normal churches,'” he said. “And they’re learning to, I guess, express their faith . . . with God in ways that are unconventional.”

Manafo is no stranger to the short film and documentary genre. In fact, he helped organize the popular Sarnia Short Film Festival this past fall.

He is also a “church planter” and is responsible for The Story, an alternative start-up church in Sarnia on Christina Street.