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.


As the first wave of DVD/CD sets have been littered across Canada (and some sent out as far as the US, UK and Panama!), the first responses are making their way back to OSFA? headquarters.

Here’s an excerpt of a review written by Bishop Keith Elford, of the Free Methodist Church in Canada:

“…I think that these men and women who are experimenting with approaches (but not with the message) deserve a respectful hearing…watch in humility to what the Holy Spirit is saying through these brothers and sisters who are wrestling with how to reach Canadians. Listen to their attitudes toward the faith tradition. As one of them puts it, they are on a search to rediscover the richness of the Christian tradition plus understand what is current in culture plus create something that is original and somehow “mush” it together to have a Kingdom presence in a way that is sustainable for the long term…”

In other news, a new WebShort is up entitled The Role of the Internet. It was especially difficult to not include this sequence in the film, because the net plays such a vital role in connecting and equipping these new and evolving forms of church. Due to some technical glitches, the poor sound quality of this excerpt precluded it from being part of the final draft of the film. Nonetheless, it is an important piece of the puzzle.

Thank-you, Thank-you very much.

*Thanks to the good people at Youth Specialties for giving us a spot to show the film last Friday. It was great to share stories, make some new friends and have a room beside the guy who wrote The Shack. :)

*Thanks to all those who’ve purchased copies of the film. Some were picked up at the conference, we shipped out 85 copies yesterday and there’s a small pile waiting to go out first thing tomorrow morning.

*Thanks for checking out the newest Web Short. Again, this is footage exclusive to the site – it does not appear in the film. There was so much good stuff that didn’t make the final edit…so this is our way of making it fit somehow.

Ship, Clip & Show

Good news…

*The first run of 500 DVD/CD sets have arrived! Thanks to all those who have already purchased copies – your discs will ship tomorrow! If you’ve yet to secure your copy, go here.

*In the Web Short section of the site you’ll find a new clip from Poasis in Victoria, BC. To read about our visit back in June of 2007, go here. Incidentally, the music track behind the clip appears in its entirety on the soundtrack CD included in every DVD purchase.

*The first ever public screening of OSFA? will take place tomorrow night at the Youth Specialties conference tomorrow in Toronto.

*And if you’ve missed it, the trailer for the film can be found in the About section of the site.


Lots to report on as we conclude the production phase of One Size Fits All?.

*Trailer One: In the ‘About’ section of the website, you’ll be a be able to view the first trailer for the film.

*Pressing: As of yesterday, the master copies of the DVD/CD set have been mailed off. We’re expecting delivery of the first run of 500 copies on December 3rd.

*Web Shorts: We’ve added a new feature to the website where you’ll be able to see snippets of footage that are exclusive to the website and do not appear in the film. Expect the first short sometime next week.

*Soundtrack: As you may already know, each DVD purchase includes a CD of the film’s original soundtrack (by Driving on City Sidewalks), and as an added bonus, we’ve decided to also include the tunes that will appear on the Web Shorts. All in all, there will be a total of 10 tracks on the disc.

*PayPal: In the Store section of the site, you are now able to pre-order your copy of One Size Fits All?

*Showings: A new date has been added for February 2009. Also, if you’re interested in hosting a screening or training session, seeing the Booking section of this site.

*First Screening: Our first public screening is coming up on December 5 at the Youth Specialties Conference in Toronto.

Willowed, Fitched, Recorded & Edited

Had to the privilege of spending the the weekend in Kelowna, BC chatting it up about the doc and showing new clips for Willow Creek’s Nova Conference. Met some very good people, lots of encouraging words and, as always, treated very well by Willow’s team.

Now that the clips and my thoughts are are more refined, it’s been exhilarating to have people interact with the stories and ideas. My sense is that people are genuinely encouraged and are left with a sense of hope. Nearing the end of this long process I have a sense of validation…partly because of all the time/effort/resources invested in this project, but more than that, I can see the doc fulfilling its intended goal of encouraging and informing. I also hope that the planters and communities will feel the same thing. I wonder if there’s anything else I/we can do for them…

In other news, I had the opportunity to have coffee with David Fitch this morning as he was driving through Sarnia. Among other things, something he said in passing caught my attention: “The first 5 years [in church planting] is about survival.” Take that how you will.

Also, Driving on City Sidewalks has completed and mastered their recordings that will appear as a soundtrack to the film, and as a second bonus disc when the documentary is released.

In addition, my friend Troy from Trantz is helping me go over the film with the a fine toothed comb this week…colour correction, sound, edits, etc. I’m also going to send a copy to my friend in California, David DiSabatino for his two cents. Dave’s completed docs include Frisbee and the forth coming Fallen Angel. Check ‘em out if you can.

Lastly, just got off the phone with Jeff Anton, the graphic designer. All is on schedule to get the package to press for November 15.

We’re almost there…

Edit, Then Edit Some More

From 40+ hours of film down to 3.5hrs of the best stuff, now down to a very rough/lean edit of an hour and twenty minutes.

Things are on track.

The ‘Showings’ section of the site has been updated.

Thanks for sticking with this.

DNA Over Coffee

This past Monday I participated in a “DNA over Coffee” event in Brampton, Ontario. The info email we received said this:

“DNA over Coffee is a night of presentations and conversations being filmed for an upcoming documentary by Global TV. We will together explore intersections of our faith and culture, seeking God’s leading as the church is being led into a new season in Canada.”

Thanks to Nate Gerber for the invite and for the chance to talk about OSFA?. I’ll let you know (as soon as I do) when the show will air.




New Site

Welcome to the new One Size Fits All? site.

Thanks to Nathan at Storyboard Solutions for the speedy, professional work.


In conjunction with the filming, there have been some other pieces to this project that have been coming together behind the scenes. Take this opportunity to bring yourself up to speed…

Driving on City Sidewalks is currently writing and recording original compositions for the film. As an added bonus, the entire soundtrack will be included as a second disc when the film is released.

Visual artist and graphic designer Jeff Anton has created ‘the look’ for OSFA?. His work will adorn the dvd jacket, discs and posters. We decided to go with a recognizably Canadian icon – the no name brand feel and colours – as the basis for the artwork then smeared it with an iconic depiction of Jesus. Let the philosophizing begin.

OSFA poster_fa.indd

New Website

Expect to see a new incarnation of this site in August to prepare for the Fall launch of the film.

Willow Creek Leadership Summit Canada
The good people at Willow Creek have requested some promo material for each of their twenty sites at the upcoming summit. If you’re attending, you’ll be able to pre-order your copy on site.

Youth Specialties

There will be a showing of OSFA? with Q&A session to follow at this year’s Canadian Youth Workers Conference held in Toronto on December 4-7. YS is a solid organization and it’s an honour to be included in this event.