To Montreal church planters David and Franca Manafo, church isn’t about “come and see.” It’s about “go and live” – living in the community as a “tangible presence” of Christ. The conviction is based on Peter’s challenge (1 Peter 2:5) to live in your culture and become moving, living stones in Christ’s kingdom.
The insight came during a time of reflection and reassessment some three years into their Key Cities Initiative church plant. Peter’s words provided a foundational shift in their approach to ministry (or perhaps a return to origins). Since that time, The Westside Gathering in Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., has been reaching out and growing steadily. Seven years in, they still meet in rented school premises, with some 100 regular attenders, and they are intentional about serving their community of Dollard des Ormeaux.
“We have three main environments,” says David. “Our Sunday gatherings, our mid-week groups and community life, and our service to the community are basics. Anything else is an extra.” Mid-week groups are struggling with the logistics of adjusting to young family life after a number of babies joined the congregation, but the fellowships have adapted and continued. Service to the community includes a children’s outreach, special tax clinics, and efforts to meet local needs as they arise.
The Westside Gathering’s presence and witness are becoming known. “We want to do good things but we pray that Jesus will be lifted up and that people would know him,” says David.