Monday, March 28, 2016

An example from Saskatoon of a community service centre masquerading as a Christian church

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:1-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; II Timothy 4:3

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. II Timothy 3:5

If the Lord Jesus Christ can be removed or omitted from a movement or activity without fundamentally changing it, then the movement or activity isn't in fact Christian. Here is yet another product of the Church Growth Movement's cookie-cutter, as reported by Darlene Polachic of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, March 12, 2016 (link in original):

Does a church that gives 100 per cent of the offering each Sunday to help the poor and needy sound like a dream?

That’s what’s happening at Connect Church XYE which meets Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at TCU Place.

Three years ago, Rev. Dean Angell was pastoring a church in Toledo, Ohio, when he was approached by some friends of his in business in Saskatoon about starting a unique new Christian church plant. What made the church plant unique was the commitment on the part of the business people to underwrite the cost of running the church so that all offerings could be donated to worthy causes.

After careful consideration, Angell and the financial underwriters agreed to make a three-year commitment. The plant, known as Connect Church YXE, officially kicked off in September of 2013.

“Donating all the money given by the congregation at Sunday services is a significant hallmark of what we’re trying to do here,” Angell says. “Making church that simple is a major shift for everyone.”

Connect Church YXE has three pillars of connection: connect people to God, connect to people, connect to a cause.

People are connected to God primarily through Sunday services.

“We believe that having a meaningful and personal faith walk can be a reality for anyone and everyone, regardless of their past or present circumstances,” Angell says. “We also think church should be the very best place to find that faith.

“We get a lot of first time people coming, people who haven’t been in church much, and we want to make sure those people can walk in the door and learn how to step closer to God in Week 1. We try to engage people on different levels through visual arts and music led by a professional band. It’s fun, it’s loud, very relaxed, with a coffee break in the middle of a service that’s programmed to last 70 minutes or less.”

Between 300 and 400 typically attend Sunday services. A strong children’s ministry runs simultaneously.

Angell says, “The message I preach is Jesus. My goal is to connect Him with where people are at in this city. Some sermon series have been 12-Step focused. Lately, it’s been about managing your life during a downturn. A lot of our people are coming from stress-filled situations.

“It’s my job to help people find faith, which will help them become whole and healthy. We’re a hospital, not a cathedral.”

When offering time comes, Angell says there is power in being able to say, “We need you to be generous today because all the money given is going to The Lighthouse, or some other worthy charity.”

Shelly VanBinsbergen is in charge of the Cause arm of Connect Church YXE. She says the church has a yearly giving plan for each organization it helps. Each charity supported has been a suggestion from the congregation. VanBinsbergen researches each suggestion thoroughly to establish eligibility. The congregation then votes on whether it wants its money to go there.

“Connect Church YXE’s Cause pillar is what hits people most,” VanBinsbergen says. “Giving money to churches has an unsavoury stigma for a lot of people, but our commitment to give all the money collected to a worthy cause has removed people’s fears and reservations about money and church. As well, giving this way allows them to engage physically in the action.”

As a result, many volunteer hours are being connected to the financial giving, with people from the congregation helping out the various recipient organizations.

Angell says, with a less-programmed church, instead of people volunteering for church programs, they’re encouraged to go to The Lighthouse or The Bridge and volunteer there.

Volunteering as a church initiative removes a lot of barriers that might keep people from walking into these places on their own to help, VanBinsbergen says. “It might be social barriers, or perhaps fear, or maybe time constraints, but going with a group can help address these things, and allow the person to take that first step.”

Locally, YXE makes donations to the Friendship Inn, The Lighthouse, Youth For Christ, and The Bridge. Every Thanksgiving, the church holds its service at The Lighthouse.

Connect YXE also supports international organizations like Hands at Work: Africa, Canadian Humanitarian: Ethiopia, Place of Rescue: Cambodia, International Justice Mission: Worldwide, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Food for the Hungry.

Connect Church YXE frequently sends mission teams to work with the various international groups.

“In the churches where I’ve worked previously, missions happened, but nothing like this one,” Angell says. “In two and a half years, we’ve done six or seven missions trip. We’re building it into the DNA of the church.

“Service,” he says, “is what we do the rest of the week as Christians.”

To learn more, visit
When you go to the church website, you find this list of Values – Our Big Ten:

1. Simple - we keep the message of Jesus uncomplicated and the organization of the church simple

2. Inclusive - everyone is welcome at connect, our desire is to include and value all people

3. Over Balanced - we attract people who normally don’t “do” church by keeping an over-balanced focus on those who are searching for God

4. Generous - 100% of money raised at Connect is given directly to charities to support those in great need

5. Excellent - we do our best to be well-prepared and well-presented publicly and organizationally

6. Real - we are totally honest about who we are…the good, the bad, the ugly, and the money

7. Involved - we engage with the community where we live, involvement is encouraged and modeled

8. Relational - we place a high value on developing deep meaningful friendships

9. Resourced - we value your growth and put significant time and energy into resourcing those who desire to work on their own spiritual development

10. Fun - we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we do laugh a lot as we enjoy every minute of doing church
I particularly like #3--they're "over balanced," all right--"over balanced" in favour of the Peter Drucker-influenced paradigm of having the church meet the "felt needs" of "people tho normally don't 'do' church." A true Christian church is an assembly of believers, not unbelievers. I'm always suspicious of those who claim to be "totally honest," but maybe that's just me--I am a suspicious person. And I'm sick of churches who make "fun" a priority--fun isn't mentioned in the Bible as a Christian "value."

The charities mentioned in the newspaper article sound generally Christian, and many of the activities mentioned on the news page of the church website sound like acts of Christian compassion, but what cause is Connect Church YXE supporting this week (link in original)?

This Easter Sunday, we are taking a special one day offering for Ronald McDonald House Saskatoon.

When children are sick Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan gives them what they need most... their families by providing a "home-away-from-home" for them. We truly believe that having family by their side during an illness improves the health and well being of the child.

Through the doors of Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan, you will find families struggling with a child's fragile health, celebrating the healing of their sick child while at the same time dealing with the routine necessities of everyday life.

You can donate to Ronald McDonald House on Sunday, March 27th knowing that 100% of your donation will go directly to the organization.

We will also have opportunities for you to sign up on Sunday to prepare and serve dinner at the house for the families staying there.
I have nothing against Ronald McDonald House as a charity, but it's a secular charity that any non-Christian can support without any qualms.

Here's one from June 15, 2015 (bold in original):

Connect to Others, Connect to a Cause ~Hudson's Taphouse June 24th

Burger Bar and Silent Auction

6 - 9 pm

Burger Bar opens at 6:30, Silent Auction bidding begins at 6, ends at 8:45.

Burger Bar with Salad and a Drink ticket for $25 per person with proceeds going to support the team from Connect who are travelling to Zimbabwe with Hands at Work to serve in our partner community of Sukubva.

Since the establishment is a "taphouse," the drink ticket would presumably refer to or include alcoholic drinks.

And what's on tap for the near future? This item was posted on March 15, 2016 (bold, link in original):

Connect to Others, Connect to a Cause - Sunday May 1st, 2016

Heart and Sole
5K Fun Run
in support of the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery

Sunday May 1st
Registration starts at 9:30 A.M. at Village Guitar
432 20th St W
5k Run starts at 10 am
Minimum $20 donation to register

On Sunday May 1st, we will not be holding our regular Sunday services at TCU Place. Instead, we are inviting you to take part in the Heart and Sole Fun Run that we are hosting to raise funds for the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery. We are looking for volunteers and runners - families, individuals, work place teams to participate in this first annual event in support of the Crisis Nursery. If you love to run or walk, this is an easy 5K route along the river in Riversdale.

If you're not a runner or would like to volunteer, we are looking for you! We'd love to have cheering stations along the route, water stations, route marshalls, first aid attendants, bbq'ers and popcorn poppers. We'll be having fun bounce houses and face painting and other great activities on the block in front of Village Guitar and the Underground Cafe on 20th.

Grab your neighbours, coworkers, friends and family and take part in this great morning of fun and community in our city!

Details to follow here and on our Facebook page. Stay tuned! Registration will open soon.

If you'd like to be involved in the planning or volunteer on the day of the race, please email Robyn and Jessi at
Saskatoon Crisis Nursery sounds like a decent charity, but it's a secular charity. Why do secular charities always seem to hold their fundraising runs on Sunday mornings when church services are taking place? They never advertise runs to be held on Saturday mornings--perhaps because they don't want to interfere with the religion of Mammon worship as people go shopping. The reader will notice that the May 1 Fun Run has an entry fee of $20, so anyone who doesn't have that much or isn't wishing to donate that much can't participate in the run.

What about people who want to go to church on May 1, 2016 and get fed from the word of God? They won't have that opportunity at Connect Church YXE, but if the sermon titles are any indication, they probably wouldn't get fed much, anyway. With titles such as How to Deal with Debt; "Budgeting 101" ; Superbowl Sunday; "20 mile learnings"; and "Make Someone Else's Day", the sermons are more likely to be motivational talks than messages from the word of God.

When you click on Connect Church YXE's Resources link, and then on Personal Growth from the drop-down list, you're presented with a link to Right Now Media, featuring such popular and dubious big names as Bill Hybels, Francis Chan, and Matt Chandler. The link for Counselling & Support provides a list of agencies, most affiliated with evangelical churches, but also including Catholic Family Services.

On the church's Why Connect? page, it says:

...We believe that anyone and everyone can have a meaningful and personal faith walk become a reality in their lives, regardless of their past or present circumstances. We also think that the church should be the very best place for anyone (and everyone) to find that faith.

Especially on Sundays at Connect, we will place a very high priority on passing on Jesus’ message of simple faith in relevant, easily accessible ways, spoken in common, everyday language, with very practical life application. We believe that God really does want to connect with each of you, and we will do our best to not get in the way of that...

Oddly, there's nothing on Connect Church YXE's website that says what that faith is, or what the message of Jesus is. There's no statement of faith or beliefs (although such statements are often followed more in the breach than in the observance), just the list of "Big Ten" values. The trouble with churches such as Connect Church YXE is that you can't serve two masters, and eventually the social gospel--which is a false gospel--will end up displacing the true gospel, as has happened in the mainline churches, and you'll end up with churches "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."

1 comment:

  1. It may be a "church," but it doesn't sound like a real Christian Church. It sounds more like a UUA spiritual house for anything goes.