A church composition in Montreal
Montreals eclectic, urban landscape is not without churches. Steeples
abound. But the buildings propping up those steeples are almost as empty Sunday
morning as they are on weekdays. Obviously, whatever spiritual experience they
offer no longer appeals to the downtown dwellers of the worlds second largest
That's why church planters David and Sanan Brazzeal are trying something
different, hoping to connect with the postmodern milieu in which they live.
Because they are creative, artistic people, the Brazzeals began by directing
their outreach toward the arts community. They've expanded their ideas since
their ministrys inception last year, but the desire to appeal through the
senses is still evident in their visioning and planning. The two dozen people
who attend are involved in classic and abstract painting, sculpture, comics,
digital graphics and music that spans techno, scratch, Celtic and
Montreal is an avant-garde place, ahead of most North American cities in
some of the shifts affecting urban culture, says David. Ministry to the arts
community is different from using the arts to reach people. Infiltrating this
community requires accepting and encouraging their own expressions of faith.
Therefore David and the as-yet-unnamed church look for ways to penetrate the
1. Volunteering at local festivals is a way to be salt and
Montreal is the festival capital of North America, the four most famous
being the Montreal World Film Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival, the
largest jazz festival in Canada and the annual fireworks competition. There are
festivals almost every week all summer long.
2. Teaching classes in an area of expertise is a way to build
A student in an art class taught by a member of Davids church plant said,
Today, after being around you, I feel like Ive been on that TV show Touched by
3. Collaborating on events is a way to gain acceptance.
Musicians, video artists and visual artists from the church teamed up with a
modern dance troupe from a Christian college in Florida to create a one-hour
show that was presented publicly in a small theatre. Dozens of people attended.
In the future the group plans to extend the collaboration to more
Montreal-based artists as a way to gain credibility within the local
Even after meeting weekly for several months, the church still has not
chosen a name. Montrealers dont respond well to the word church, David says.
Nor do we want to come across as a cult. The church prefers to have a fluid
structure tied together by a highly structured Internet site at www.curieux.ca (for all who are
curious). At the moment they're considering naming the events they host as
opposed to choosing a name for the group.
They meet weekly in different venues that have varied from artists lofts to
cathedrals and from living rooms to botanical gardens. They have used the arts
painting, music, sculpture, performance to facilitate discussion and be a
catalyst for worship. Recently they showcased a Polish film series with
subtitles. The 10 one-hour films about the Ten Commandments were followed by
open-mike discussions that were relational, inclusive and non-condemning. Both
surveys and experience have shown us that film is the art form that ties most
people together, David says.
I don't see myself as a church planter as much as a church composer, says
David, who holds a masters degree in Music Theory and Composition. A composer
starts with a blank page and cer-tain parameters, then asks himself, What will
this work look and sound like? Where can it go? What can it accomplish? In the
end, a composer is totally dependent on the input of others to bring the piece
to life. The composer is not the star, David explains. He creates space for
others to add their own interpretation and inspiration. It's a very creative
process, and the end result can be both beautiful and powerful.
A composer starts with certain ideas but allows the process to carry him
along, and he shouldnt be afraid of that, David says. Much of the creative
process is collaborative. There is no here's my vision but instead, a composer
says, lets jam. According to David, that's why their church is still unnamed,
because people in the group aren't ready to name it as if by doing so, they
will define it too rigidly and stifle the creative process.
What began as an arts-oriented church has expanded as other individuals and
families have sought them out, attracted by their fluidity and non-judgmental
atmosphere as well as their vision for church planting. A minister to young
people on the streets of Montreal appreciates the potential for bringing street
kids to gatherings where they're accepted and not stared at.
A year ago when we moved to downtown Montreal to start a new church, we
could hardly even dream of the phrase church planting movement, David wrote in
an email to his prayer partners. Even a small group in our home would have
seemed like a miracle.
Now David reports that, in addition to his own church community, a growing
group of other interested leaders and church planters in the Montreal urban
milieu has formed. They want to do whatever it takes to be a part of what God
plans to do in Montreal and beyond.
We pray that the result will be a network of emerging churches that together
will infiltrate this city with many relevant expressions of Gods love.
Somethings brewing in Salt Lake
Salt Lake City, Utah
PHOTO BY james dotson
Arguably, one of the toughest places to plant a Baptist church must be Salt
Lake City, Utah, North Americas Mormon Mecca. If ever there was a city in which
to try a new and different approach, Salt Lake is it. That's why church planter
Clint Roberts, pastor of Summit Church, is well suited for the job.
I'm a junkie for new projects, Clint says with a laugh. I'm a starter. Clint
knew that in order for Southern Baptists to be effective in a city steeped in
its own subculture, he would have to find a way to connect with the man on the
street. And not just on Sunday.
Where do people gather today to hang out and build relationships? Where do
they go to sit or stay awhile and get to know one another? Clint wondered. He
knew the answer was the coffee house, a place with the kind of atmosphere that
encourages clientele to hang out, relax and talk.
His ability to think outside the box was an advantage when he responded five
year's ago to Gods call to plant churches and do ministry in the Salt Lake City
area. The Salt Company, a student ministry he initiated at Utah University,
meets on campus Thursday evenings for Bible study, worship and outreach. From
that beginning, Summit Church emerged and initially met in a theatre on campus
on Sunday evenings, but Clint knew they would need a more user-friendly
location if they hoped to attract other Gen-Xers who weren't students.
The whole point of church planting is to reach indigenous people, Clint
says. That's why the campus as a meeting place for Sunday worship wasn't as
effective. On the weekends doors were locked, rooms and buildings were hard to
find, and the whole place had a ghost town feel.
When prime downtown property less than two blocks from popular Temple Square
became available, Clint seized the opportunity to try something different.
Most of the city of Salt Lake is suburbs to the south no one plants churches
in the downtown core, he says. We asked ourselves, how can we reach people
around here with a church plant? That's where we got the idea for a coffee
house, where the church could meet and the coffee house would be open every
The building needed a lot of work, and when he heard of Chauncey Webb, a
young man with a vision for a coffee house ministry, Clint knew it was a match
made in heaven literally. Chauncy had his own remodeling business and a call to
ministry. He was just waiting for the right opportunity.
PHOTO BY james dotson
With Chauncey's expertise and the hands-on help of volunteer labor from
students and partner churches, the well-worn building received a dramatic
face-lift. The result was a first-class coffee emporium. It has tables in the
front room where the coffee bar is located. A comfortable back room with sofas
invites customers to stay and chat. The second floor, used for Bible study,
worship and concerts, has a huge window providing a full view of the street
below. Two computers offer Internet access upstairs, and the plan is to add
more and to move them downstairs, closer to the action.
Chauncy is now a US/C 2 missionary supported by the North American Mission
Board, associate minister for Summit Church and the manager of the coffee
house, a place he calls home about 16 hours a day. There is no payroll. The
staff is volunteer since the coffee house business and the church are both
nonprofit arms of Summit Ministries, the umbrella organization.
The coffee house began by serving a whole range of coffee drinks with an eye
to adding food items once they were up and running. They offer live music on
weekend evenings and are hoping to locate a jazz trio to entertain the
lunchtime crowd when they begin selling sandwiches.
The chief reason were here is to fulfill the Great Commission, Clint says.
It would be easy to be sidetracked and lose sight of the goal because were
having so much fun. We must remember why were here. He believes the way to
reach North Americas young urbanites is through new channels. Our coffee house
doesnt look like a church, he says. But he knows he's dealing with a unique
situation in Salt Lake City, one that requires sensitivity as well as
Why a coffee house? Benefits:
Daily presence in the community.
Place for off-campus worship.
Welcome venue for creative outreach through concerts, poetry readings and
Financial solution for funding mission trips and outreach in downtown
A church offers new beginnings
Grifton, North Carolina
Not just anybody can walk into a rough neighborhood park where the children
are outnumbered by prostitutes, crack addicts, alcoholics and gang members. But
Frederick Parker, pastor of New Beginning Baptist Church in Grifton, North
Carolina, sees this as his mission field. This is his neighborhood. And he
cares deeply about what's happening to his neighbors.
He sees the lack of discipline and accountability as leading to the problems
plaguing his neighborhood. Things have changed since I was a child, Frederick
recalls. If I did something wrong, the nearest adult on the scene would
discipline me. Then I'd get more from my mother when I got home. And when my
daddy came home from work, I'd get it again! I learned about consequences as a
Pastor Frederick Parker takes up homework during an afterschool
studytime at New Beginning Baptist Church. Parkers goal is to provide a
positive environment for kids who sometimes find the streets safer then their
PHOTO BY jessica webb
Frederick worked 40 years as a certified automotive technician. Then three
tragedies one after another in the late 1990's changed the course of his life.
His first wife took her own life, a work-related injury rendered one of his
arms useless and ended his career, and a hurricane put one third of eastern
North Carolina underwater.
Everywhere he looked after the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 he
couldn't help but notice the distinctive yellow caps of the North Carolina
Baptist Mens Disaster Relief organization. Frederick and his second wife,
Diane, were so impressed with the level of compassion and hands-on help they
wanted to become a part of it. Frederick approached Director of Missions David
Leary, and within a short time, New Beginning joined the Neuse Baptist
Southern Baptists will help any way they can, says Frederick. They find
resources for us. Any little bit helps.
The Parkers had owned a large building, which housed a daycare center for
the past 18 years. The daycare used the front section while a sizable space in
the back sat vacant. When Frederick sensed a call from God to preach the Word
and start a church, he didn't know where to begin. His adult daughter, Crystal,
suggested he use the empty space at the daycare. Frederick didn't have money to
develop the space but decided to be obedient to Gods leading and take the first
I paid for the cement and for the flooring, Fredrick admits. I prayed, and
then God stepped in and took care of everything else.
Within a short time of getting the church established, Frederick felt called
to help the hungry and homeless and hopeless in his neighborhood.
I see so many kids standing on the corner and in the park. Their parents
don't seem to care. I have compassion for them, he says.
New Beginning reaches out by hosting big events three times a year that
attract at least 100 people in the park closest to the church. Church members
begin by walking through the park, praying and anointing it with oil. About 50
members help out with these Saturday events.
We cook food, we have live music, clowns, face painting, games, and we
preach. It doesn't cost anything to come and listen, Frederick recounts. People
are the same everywhere: if you feed them, they will come! Results are
impressive. Nineteen young people were baptized at one time and another 16 at a
Pastor Parker believes that salvation is only the first step to starting a
new life. He has seen teens come to the Lord and then fall away because they
lack good role models and employment skills. To reverse that trend, New
Beginning has a two-phase plan to help get kids off the street and into
A 2,400 square-foot building is under construction and will provide
classroom space for neighborhood kids. Phase I will offer a GED program as well
as trade school.
We'll have three days of classes and two days of hands-on experience,
Frederick says. He has relationships with the local dealerships and has
arranged for young people to do apprenticeships in the automotive industry. He
also plans for students to train with the North Carolina Baptist Disaster
Relief agency. They could learn an array of skills in construction and food
We will feed them two meals a day, Frederick says. And we can offer daycare
onsite. They'll have no excuse not to learn!
Frederick believes in the importance of having a good job. Once you have a
trade, he says, no one can take that from you. It goes with you throughout
Phase II of the vision of New Beginning is to set up two group homes. A boys
home and a girls home will provide a positive environment for kids who find the
streets safer than their home.
I see so many kids just standing around. Their parents don't care about
them. They say, You take himmake something better out of him! Pastor Parker
laments. A young man needs a male role model. And most of these young girls
have babies just so they can access the welfare system. New Beginning lives up
to its name and shows young people they can have a new start. They can make
something of themselves, because there's a church willing to do whatever it
takes to get them started.
Whatever-it-takes Churches is an occassional feature
by Connie Cavanaugh who is a writer and columnist for HomeLife living in
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