Five Questions: Westside Gathering

Church name: Westside Gathering
Pastor: David Manafo
Location: Montreal

How would you describe your church?

We’re a simple church in approach and style, with relationship as our foundation. We’re more concerned about being the right kind of church than a being a certain size, yet we desire greatly to see our city respond to the gospel and experience transformation in Christ.

What was the defining moment for your congregation?

As a young church plant, we discovered after 3 years we were trying to do too much. This led to 2 key shifts.

1. We learned about Sabbath. We took a month’s rest from all activities, went on a retreat, and in general, scaled back activities and productions. We’re now following a healthier rhythm throughout the year.

2. We’re intentional about becoming a GO and LIVE church instead of a COME and SEE church. We started asking: what does it mean for us to be God’s living and local presence in our community?

What does it mean for your church to be evangelical Anabaptist?

Our initial core was from a mix of denominational backgrounds, none being Anabaptist, so we’re still figuring this out. Being part of the Mennonite Brethren conference has encouraged and affirmed our commitment to compassionate acts of service, a strong vision for discipleship, and the freedom to stay true to core biblical truths while expressing who we uniquely are in our own context.

What makes your church unique?

We’re flexible. When our rental location isn’t available, we set up breakfast in different homes. During the summer, instead of large gatherings on Sunday, we do church at home for 3–4 weeks. We’ve set up a 24-hour prayer initiative in a rented U-haul. And we’re oriented toward service.

If you could choose a famous Christian to come and speak, who would it be and why?

Anabaptist theologian Scot McKnight, author of several popular books (Jesus Creed, Embracing Grace). I’d love our community to learn from his keen interest in what the gospel really is, following Jesus by loving God and others, getting a better sense of the whole Christian story, and presenting an honest way to read and understand the Scriptures.

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