Living out alternative models of church
Dr. Michael Krause, Director of the Internship Program and Assistant Professor of Christian Ministry, believes that alternative church models are increasingly popular in Canada, rather than in the United States. In his view, Canadians have accepted the fact that we live in a secular nation. “Secularism is the reality that we live with every day and we don’t argue about it anymore,” he explains. It is not as important to have that visible church space anymore. Church is becoming a more relational, connection-based network. The focus of new church plants is around integrating into existing relational networks. “How do we live and breathe and express the gospel in our lives and how does church integrate with that in day to day life?”
In his class this summer, “Alternative Models of the Church for the 21st Century Canadian Context,” Dr. Krause will welcome a number of people who are living out alternative models within the Greater Toronto Area. For example, Tyndale Seminary alumnus Chris Yu [MDiv Youth and Family Ministry 2002] will speak on his project at Mercy City Church in the Victoria Park and Dawes area. Originally, Chris began praying about engaging with the neighbourhood. He interacted with his neighbours, starting kid’s clubs and volunteering. Two years later, the community asked him to start a church service. “In this church, we see the current traditional model turned on its head,” Dr. Krause says.
This organic model is one of three that Dr. Krause sees happening in Toronto. The second model is a house-based church model. In the inner city, finding a space for worship is difficult. Instead, churches are starting in alternative spaces such as apartment buildings or houses. This church becomes neighbourhood-based by definition and includes far more interaction.
At St. Paul’s on Bloor Street, one man saw the new condominiums surrounding the church and wondered how he could reach the people who lived there. After some research, he learned that those living in the condos were young urban professionals and began interacting and meeting with them. Out of those relationships, he started a community within the church – a church within a church. This is another model that Dr. Krause sees emerging in the inner city.
It is also important to look at the history of the modern church and where we are now in our post-secular, postmodern urban context. In the recent past, Dr. Krause explains, our church model has been attractional, with a “build it and they will come” mentality. Dr. Krause hopes to shift perceptions of what a church looks like. He wants to give direction and a foundation from which people can launch their own alternative projects. In his course, the work is designed around researching neighbourhoods and exploring what a church plant looks like and how to implement it. “I hope that they have the tools to move in the direction of church planting,” he says.