Lifespring Church an informal experience
It’s a church that likes to experiment.
In fact, for the Lifespring Community Church, experimenting is part of its mission.
“We’ve got this statement that we say it’s experiments in barely organized religion,” says Pastor Paul Bagley. “You’ll find in our church that we’re not afraid to experiment with things and if we fall flat on our face, we fall flat on our face.
“We grab on to those things that tend to work well because we’re in the process of trying to find out what the community is looking for in a church without downsizing or minimizing our message, or anything else like that, about the grace and love of (Jesus) Christ.”
The church is in the East Village, just east of the core.
“We’re like in the last remaining kind of standing building,” Bagley says with a chuckle of the church, which is leasing space in that structure. “It’s starting to really show its roots.”
Its roots go back to 1999, through the Alberta Baptist Association, where Bagley was creative arts pastor. For 13 years, it was based in the old Loose Moose Theatre. In September 2010, it found its present location in the Golden Age Club.
“Our vision to the core is to love God and to love others. We have some core values. We have five core values that we love to stick to. One of those core values is outreach. Another core value is worship. Community. Being informal. And we tap into all elements of the creative arts,” Bagley says.
“So we have media. We used to do a fair bit of drama, but we’ve kind of downsized a little bit in membership, so that’s a little more difficult to do. Performance art. We’ll have fine artists. Paint. We’ll have some improv stuff go on. We do blues, jazz styles of music and worship. We’ll change up the songs every week.”
Bagley says the church wants to become involved in people’s lives. And that will change dramatically in the coming years, he says, as major development plans are in the works for the East Village, with multi-family residential units and retail development set to change the landscape.
“The culture right now is nothing like the culture that’s coming. We still consider ourselves to be guests in the Village and we take that mindset and get our feelers out there to find out what’s kicking and what’s not,” Bagley says. “What curb do we kick and what tire do we kick? It’s about meeting people in the small spaces of your lives. So that’s where we try to get involved.
“We don’t make any huge demands on people for church. You come in your jeans. You come in your T-shirt. That’s part of the informality. We start somewhere around 10:30 (a.m.). We have people that sit in the foyer because they like our coffee and our doughnuts. Eventually they make their way into the service. We’re not about pushing people in, we’re not about manipulating you — we’re all on this journey. We’re moving together on some journey, but we want to move in a direction and that direction is towards Christ. Some of us fall off the wagon, some of us don’t. Some of us get a little lazy, some of us don’t, but it’s part of this community. We’re doing this together.”
On May 4 and 5, the church will host Christian illusionist Derek Selinger.
Recently, it had a food and blues service with music following the service.
Some of the things the church has done include bringing in special acts and performers from across Western Canada, community barbecues, chili cook-offs, Stampede breakfasts, Remembrance Day services, and it has helped serve Christmas dinners. Members of the church have also been busy in the community on the board of the Golden Age Club and the East Village Action Committee.
The volunteers have developed relationships with the Salvation Army, Mustard Seed and the Jesus Loves You Society.
“Lifespring is a caring, fun and real community, where you can be yourself,” says the church’s website.
“Together we journey, explore, share and experience the amazing stories of Jesus Christ and His love for all people. We are about reaching out (connecting) within our sphere of influence and our church community in finding the heart of God in a broken world and leading each other to an authentic relationship with God and others.
“We share an informal, welcoming and safe environment where we worship God, each with our unique gifts that form the creative ministry and culture of Lifespring Community Church.”