Details of our Unique Aspects
We started this church the hard way. We did not have a large group of people who came from another church. About 5 years ago 1 family was meeting in a home and praying. Since then various people have come to join our team. Each family that has come to us has felt a calling from God or this is their first church. (Click here to learn more about the leaders.)
The people who come to our church tend to be adventurous entrepreneurs who don't mind rolling up their sleeves and getting involved. They are looking to make a difference and to matter.
Being a very new church also means we change a lot. People who come here must be comfortable with change. They don't mind if we are a little bit unpredictable. If you find change threatening or scary, you probably want to check out an older and more established church. (See our list.)
At this time we have about 30-50 people on Sunday morning. That means we do not yet have many of the features and programs that some of the larger churches have. If you are expecting to have a program for every age level, we’re not your church.
Those who attend our church need to patient. Families often worship and play together. Teens, children and parents all sit in the same place for singing and teaching. We have found though that teens and children love being in our church.
As we grow we expect to change many of the things we do. Some things will change pretty quickly once God gives us the resources.
Being small also means that our leaders are very busy. John & Tiffany (see staff page) each hold down jobs outside of their work in the church. They do not have as much time as the staff members of larger churches who have no other responsibilities. This means that we need other leaders to step up to the plate and take on responsibilities.
Right now we meet in a cramped and drafty warehouse. If you need the finest building with the softest chair The Connection is not the church for you. Some day we'll have a nicer location but if you need that right now, there are many churches that have those features. We’re looking for people who don’t mind living an adventure with us and can overlook the present situation as we look to the future.
If you are used to a “traditional” church you might be a little bit surprised by us. We like to have fun. We believe it is okay to laugh in church. We think that joy and excitement should be an important part of church. We want to do things that are relevant to our culture. So we don't do church the way they did 100 years ago. Some people like our fresh approach. Some are looking for a more formal church experience. That’s why there are different kinds of churches.
If you are new to this whole “church-thing” you might wonder what being “Baptist” means. Here are a couple of things that people who call themselves Baptists generally hold to:
a) The Bible is our only guide. We don't follow ancient man-made traditions or any other book. We have only one “holy book.”
b) We look to the early church that Peter, Paul and John were part of nearly 2,000 years ago as our ideal. We’ll often find ourselves looking back at the early church for inspiration and principles. The early church changed the Roman Empire and the world has never been same. We believe that our church should do the same.
c) We hold to the basic tenants of historic Christianity. We are not radical or weird in our teachings. We teach what Christians have taught for thousands of years. (Click here for list of our theological beliefs expressed in ordinary English.)
d) We believe that each person needs to make a decision to follow Jesus on their own. That’s why we baptize people (hence the name “Baptist”) only after they make that choice for themselves. We don’t think that someone is a Christian just because his or her parents were Christians or because he or she is a good person or goes to church. Becoming a Christian is a choice of the will and heart – to gain forgiveness for our sins by Jesus’ death and to allow God to be the director of our life.
e) We make our relationship with God the priority in our lives. Our priorities could be summarized in the acrostic, JOY – Jesus; Others; You.
f) We live our lives with personal integrity and contagious joy.
g) We are not complete unless we are part of a church.
If you are looking for a church where you will hear about complex and new understandings of the Bible, The Connection is not the church for you. We don’t spend a lot of time on theory and “deep” theological arguments. We don't try to be controversial in our teaching. We're just clear. We don’t use big words that only people who are trained in a Bible College or Seminary can understand. We believe that the Bible is to be lived not just analyzed.
If you want a place where you’ll get practical instructions to help you live a better life, be a more honest person, and grow to be more like Jesus every day, The Connection might be the place for you.
Our messages deal with topics that normal people who live normal lives are dealing with. We want to be practical and helpful. One of our core values is relevance. (Click here for our three core values.) We want people to be able to use the message as soon as they leave church.
In our messages we'll generally take stories, principles or short passages from the Bible and apply these to real life issues that we face in our lives. Often we'll deal with one issue and use various passages from the Bible to see God's perspective on this issue. We believe it is better to know a little bit of the Bible and live it well than to know a lot of the Bible and not know what to do with it.
We'll often teach for several weeks on different aspects of a certain topic. Then we'll have a party to wrap it up. Here are samples of some of the series we have had in the past year. Each of these were 5 part series. You can check our archives to download and listen to some of these messages.
In our church we don't shout at people or make them feel guilty. We don't do strange or weird things. We don't wear funny clothes or fancy robes. People who attend The Connection dress casually. In the summer people will wear shorts and sandals. We'll usually have coffee and some sort of snacks.
We have found that teenagers and young people as well as adults love coming to our church. Some refuse to stay home when they are sick. We believe that we have something “magical” here that is changing people while treating them with dignity.
Most of the people who have come to our church have not gone to church in a long time. Many have never gone before and The Connection is their first church. Some didn’t even believe in God when they start coming to The Connection. They just sensed something real and powerful at The Connection. They come because they feel loved, cared for, and they know that they will be allowed to learn and grow at their own pace without pressure. They also know that they'll learn some practical things that they can use in their lives.
In our church we get people involved even before they have made a decision to give their lives to Jesus. This is very intentional and very different from how many churches handle those who are “not yet believers.” We feel very strongly that people don't need to be Christians (yet) in order to play in the band, help with greeting, or volunteering in various areas. Why do we do this? Because Jesus welcomed everyone into his home. He came to be a friend of sinners. He came to heal the sick. We also know that none of us have "arrived" yet. We all need God every day. We believe that the church should be a haven for the hurting, not a heaven for the perfect. We believe that God saves us when we are still sinners: so we should bring people into our family even when they are still struggling and uncertain. We take people where they are and keep nudging them toward Jesus.
It should be noted that doing this is a little bit risky and can even be messy and dangerous. Sometimes these volunteers don't do everything right. Sometimes their lifestyle is far from ideal. Sometimes people who have been “Christians” for a long time are offended that someone who is not even a believer is serving in the church. If this makes you uncomfortable – if you think that only Christians who are living up to a certain standard should be serving in a church – you’ll probably be happier in another church. (See our list.)
While we welcome everyone with open arms just where they are in life, we expect everyone to grow. If you come to our church on a repeated basis, expect to be challenged. We expect everyone who attends here to slowly become a better person – a more loving husband, a better mother, a more honest employee, a better student – that is, they will become more like Jesus in their life and attitudes. We believe that each person has a great God-given potential, but to reach our potential we all need to be coached and even pushed (lovingly) at times. So while you'll be loved and accepted just the way you are – with all your baggage and bad habits – we will always be there to nudge you to becoming more like Jesus. We're patient. We all have our own faults too. But we expect growth out of everyone.
The flip side of this should be obvious: if you are looking for a church that won’t challenge you or expect anything out of you, if you think you have already arrived and are practically perfect in every way, you probably won’t be comfortable in our church.
At The Connection we think so highly of God that we put endless energy and time into having an awesome worship service. With so few workers this is very difficult but we believe it is worth it. We do this because we think that God is worthy of worship. We also believe that when people come into a church where God’s name is lifted up they themselves will be moved and changed. Our very purpose in life comes from worshiping God. If you can play an instrument, dance, or sing well, we could use your help in having the best, most exciting and amazing worship service ever.
How do we get people to grow in their relationship with God? One way is through passionate and exciting worship. Something about worship just changes us. Another way is through solid and practical Bible based teaching. But there is another way that people grow and change: We grow when we commit ourselves to causes greater than ourselves. People rise to the challenge when great things are expected out of them. So, if we are going to encourage people to grow we need to challenge them to make commitments. We have discovered that people show their commitment to a church by giving, working and inviting people. That does not mean that everyone will give a lot, but everyone will give something. It also means that everyone will be involved in working in some way.
We believe that people are partners with God in building His church and changing the world. That will not come without a lot of hard work. Starting a new church takes Herculean effort by many people. So we need those who attend to be committed to come as often as possible and to give regularly.
The Connection has no wealthy benefactor. No trust fund. In some ways that is good. It requires that those who make The Connection their home learn how be givers. Our ministries survive on the generosity of those who give. We have found that people really start to grow spiritually when they start to give. If you visit with us, we don’t expect anything. You being there is more than we could ask for. But when you make us your home, we expect you to pitch in and be part of the family.
As a church we value three things:
- Spiritual Power
We value Spiritual Power because we believe that a church is a spiritual organization that requires God’s power. We are not just a club or humanitarian organization. Ultimately we gain our power from God. We value things that put us in touch with God and bring his power down to earth. This value keeps us focused on God.
We value relevance because we believe that a church is here to minister to people. That’s why we use music that people are used to listening to, why we talk about topics that people deal with, and why we want to be a church that makes movies. We also run summer camps and run a youth ministry because these things meet needs in our families. We try to question everything we do with this simple question: How will this impact people who don’t go to church? We want to be relevant to our society. This value keeps us focused on those who don’t come to church.
We value community because we believe that God came to bring us together. The church is to be a body, a family, a unit. In everything we do we try to figure out how to build teams. We firmly believe that no person should be left all alone to deal with life’s problems. Problems are cut in half when we share them with our friends and joys are doubled. Because we value community, we place a huge emphasis on unity. People who want to become part of our church can have many problems and issues – we don’t mind – but we will not tolerate things like gossip or backbiting that harm the unity of the body. This value keeps us focused on those who are part of the church.
We can represent these three values with the picture of an airplane. Relevance and community pull in opposite directions and thus balance and strengthen each other much like the wings of an airplane. Spiritual power, much like the propeller, provides the energy for motion.
Our vision is huge but we have tried to simplify and distilled it into three parts or stages.
If you have examined our family building, city changing, world touching vision, you’ll probably come away with the thoughts that these things are unimaginately huge. (If you think these things could never happen, click here for some encouragement.) We believe that with God’s power, wise planning, and great human effort, astonishing things can be achieved. Of course, we don’t know the future, but we can look at the past.
Remember that it was about 7 years ago when John & Tiffany Martens moved to Maple Ridge. They knew no one at that time and had no financial resources of their own. Since then look at what has been achieved:
These things were done with a very small group and very limited finances. Just imagine what could be done if you become part of the team. If you want to Partner with us so that greater things can be achieved, click here.