I spoke with Joe Manafo, Lead Pastor at Lakeview Church, this past February, after checking out Lakeview’s website. I was curious about their “blueprint” and how they landed there.
Next year, Lakeview will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The church was started, in 1921, by a seventeen year old girl who had to petition the director of the area two or three times before he agreed to it. She then worked out a deal for a space on Broadway Avenue and got two months free on rent. The church moved from downtown Saskatoon, to a downtown core neighbourhood, to a newly established neighbourhood, to another new neighbourhood, and finally to their current location.
Lakeview is a commuter church. “People come here from all over Saskatoon. Our location doesn’t really have a neighbourhood feel. The church moved out here because at the time they were running five services on a weekend in a building that just wasn’t big enough.” Lakeview’s facility includes over 60,000 square feet of meeting space that includes a commercial grade kitchen, a full size gym, and a 711 seat auditorium with professional lighting, sound, and media capabilities. “This is the most useful church space I have ever been a part of. The facility is available for free to organizations we believe in and events that improve the quality of life in Saskatoon.” Lakeview also rents out their space for a variety of events like the Canadian Fiddle Championship, Ukrainian Dance Championships, various sports teams, and much more.
Lakeview’s facility has both advantages and disadvantages. “People come here for an event and then discover it’s a church, then some of those people get connected into our church. Another advantage is that you can be anonymous for as long as you want to be, but the disadvantage is that you could be here for fifteen years, and we’d never know it.”
The leadership team at Lakeview recognized that people were dropping off the map. “We have new people showing up every single week, but trying to get those people integrated into the community is challenging. Home Church is the neighbourhood piece which is more important than bringing people to this location once a week.”
Home Church groups are designed to facilitate friendships and unpack what it means to follow Jesus in practical, meaningful ways. Time together is spent forming relationships with one another, exploring Sunday’s teaching, and praying for one another. “We also want to equip and challenge people. Historically, we were an attractional church, so people would come, see the show, and go home. We weren’t interested in doing that anymore. We want people to own and fight through what they believe in. Our message isn’t, ‘Come listen to me and let me try to convince you of something.’
Lakeview’s Sunday mornings could not be more stripped down. “We sing, we pray, there’s a message, maybe a follow up response, and we are done. No smoke, dancing, skits, or lights. We moved away from a performance model to a church that is trying to be actively involved in people’s lives outside of Sundays. People aren’t always into that. They like to come and get a sweet show and then leave, but that’s not where we are putting our resources because we don’t see the benefit of that.”
The leadership team felt there was a step missing between Sunday mornings and Home Church, so they created Next. Next Learning Parties are designed to help people find their place and their people at Lakeview. “Part of Next is learning about God’s big story, the story of Free Methodist Church in Canada, Lakeview’s story, and then how your story fits into all that. From there some people become members, others get plugged into volunteer positions, and others make new connections.”
Lakeview’s mission is to join God in the renewal of all things. “We are focused on three things: Sunday morning, Next, and Home Church, so we can disciple people and send them out.”
By Alison McKinnon