PHOTO: JOrDan MaJeau
If we don’t build it, they can’t come,” states Darrell Muth, lead pastor of Urban Bridge Church in Edmonton. But he’s not referring to an inviting building or program – he’s talking about building relational bridges from the congregation to
neighbours, bridges that can enable neighbours to understand
the community of faith and ultimately come to Jesus.
It’s a way of thinking that compels members of this four-year-old congregation associated with The Pentecostal Assemblies of
Canada ( www.urbanbridgechurch.com) to engage energetically
with their downtown neighbours. One highly educated couple
with children moved from the suburbs to live as missionaries
in the city.
Congregants and neighbours alike have a shared interest in
arts and culture, thanks in part to the church’s worship location
on a campus of Grant MacEwan University. Urban Bridge is
careful to clearly identify the physical boundaries for its parish
ministry in the belief that God works through proximity to nurture valuable relationships. It meets intentionally at the campus’
CN Conference Theatre, a location that plants them squarely in
the middle of action in the city.
Many of the church’s “smaller groups” – its preferred name
for gatherings intended to help members grow in faith during
the week – reflect the shared interest in culture and ideas. One
group called Theologizers explores the ideas of great thinkers
old and new and how they relate to faith. Others focus on
books or photography.
Such transparency means openly wrestling with people’s questions, including those about the concept of church itself. Urban
Bridge members are trying to take a fresh look at how to “be