We are in an interesting place as a faith community, literally. The lease on the space we currently rent expires at the end of the month, and we are unable to renew it due to zoning issues. We found a new space that was smaller and much better suited to our needs (with our own private bathrooms!) and after we met with the landlord and signed a lease, that space also fell through due to a zoning ruling. The Director of Urban Planning suggested that we rent space from an existing church in order to avoid the zoning problem. Now we would be perfectly happy to share space with another church, but most of the congregations are housed in old, formal, cavernous, pewed buildings not conducive to our casual and interactive worship and teaching style. At Vineyard Montreal, we have couches and sit in a semi-circle and you are free to interrupt the speaker with a question or comment at any time. Plus, where would the drums go? Sadly, meeting as a church in a non-traditional church space seems a bit difficult in Montreal.
So on October 31, we will be homeless as a church. Sort of. One of the brainstorming ideas that we tossed around was that if nothing worked out, we could just go hang out with another church a few blocks away that also did church outside of the conventional box. They are associated with a totally different denomination, but they have much the same vision and demographics as we do. They also meet the same time as our group, and not far away. I mentioned this in passing to a few of the people in our group on Saturday, and I was surprised at the strong reaction I got. One person teared up. Another smiled broadly. I was told that there was something profound about this joining together, about not erecting a fence to protect what we had.
I took the words seriously. After consulting with Dean (who was still in China but called me late that night just to chat), I phoned the point man of the other church Sunday morning and he was very excited by the possibility of meeting together as one group for a period of time. He said he would talk to his people that night. I said I would do the same, and we would see what came of it. That evening, I sat down on a PA speaker after my thanksgiving talk (which had consisted of a bible story, discussing some Dutch and Canadian art, and a music video from Sister Act 2), and asked the folks on the couches what they thought of the idea of being part of something bigger than just ourselves, at least for a time. The response was overwhelmingly positive. There was an excitement about the "coming together" experiment that I had not anticipated.
On Sunday night, November 1, we will be heading over to Reggie's Bar at one of the largest universities in Montreal to join in worshipping our great God with a group of people that we don't know called The Living Room. They have asked us to perhaps lead one of the meetings in a few weeks. We are trying it for a month and seeing what comes of it. Perhaps God wants to do something here that we would never have dreamed of had it not been for inflexible zoning regulations.
I have no idea what we will be doing with our music equipment, couches, desks and various tables and chairs that we have in our current space, but we have found a place for the people, and that is the most important thing.
This is a photo of a stick in a ditch, somehow beautiful in all its muddy tangle.