Photo: Westside Church meets in the Park & Tilford Cineplex Odeon on Brooksbank Avenue in North Vancouver. (Photo by Jonathan Cruz)
As the pastor of the first significant church plant to Vancouver’s North Shore in the last decade, James Bonney knows the advantage is in his favour. On one hand, Vancouver is one of the most secular cities in Canada; on the other, Bonney is finding Vancouverites so post-Christian they’ve almost forgotten why they abandoned religion in the first place.
“We’re hearing ‘oh, you guys still are real! Christians still are alive!’” says Bonney. “So we’re seeing a new interest, particularly with the younger North Van people. Doors are opening, they aren’t closed. People are just surprised that [we] would believe in Jesus.”
Bonney pastors Westside Church’s North Shore Campus, a year-and-a-half-old ministry initiated by the older Westside congregation on Granville Island. He focuses on teaching biblical literacy to a community that is often confused by basic concepts like ‘sin’ and ‘repentance,’ as well as empowering each church member to reach their micro-communities.
Change and growth “won’t happen [because] you put cool signs up outside your theatre,” says Bonney. “The only way to change a culture like this is to … learn how to engage the new communities and equip people to be missionaries in the city.”
Born in Ontario and trained at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill., Bonney joined the C2C network after feeling a call to the North Shore. He is amazed at the number of people he interacts with daily who have no understanding of the gospel, despite living and working in a ‘Christian’ society.
Westside Church and Bonney request prayer for more workers, as outlined in Luke 10:2. “Send more people who feel called, love the North Shore, and want to be missional here,” says Bonney.
Visit Westside Church online at www.westsidechurchnorthshore.com
Paul Esau is a communications intern with CCMBC and the MB Herald.