Church 34 – Mapleview Community Church

This Sunday I visited Mapleview Community Church.

I have less to say about this one than some others, not least because I didn’t really get the chance to talk to anybody.  Despite hanging around for 10 minutes after the service, no one introduced themselves to me, so unfortunately I have to score Mapleview a little low on the ‘friendliness’ scale.  I did see lots of other interactions between people though, so I expect it is a friendly community if you are an ‘insider’.

So, first impressions.  Mapleview meets in a large, new, purpose-built building near Essa and Mapleview.    The meeting room seems designed for warehouse concerts, and the service is well-attended, slickly organised, and loud.  Stylistically they are probably closest to Connexus out of the other churches in the city.

Mapleview is enthusiastically embracing modern technology.  The announcements were delivered in the form of a short video, and as the service started we were encouraged to ‘tweet’ our presence to our social networks.  This is also the first church I’ve been in that has a public WiFi network that I could connect to. The service I attended can in fact be viewed in full on Vimeo at  http://vimeo.com/44663738.

On reflection, I quite like this trend.   One of the main points of this church crawl is to encourage greater communication and dialog between the churches of the city.   If blogging, tweeting and facebook-ing encourage this conversation, then I’m all in favour.

Of course, these tools aren’t perfect.  One of the risks of social media is that we can, just like in meatspace, surround ourselves with voices that we agree with.  If I only ever listen to voices within my cultural, religious, and political tradition, I will mistakenly assume that the whole world agrees with me. I will only ask certain questions, and only consider certain answers.  History provides us with many painful examples of what happens when a culture collapses in on itself and refuses to see those outside as being fully human.

My hope is that we can have the courage to step beyond our comfort zones and engage in conversation with those who are different from us.   If you consider yourself politically left wing, try reading some articles from The Economist.  If you’re right wing, leaf through The Guardian occasionally.  If you mostly consume Canadian news, try Al Jazeera‘s  exceptional global reporting some time.  Read some religious blogs outside your church tradition.  Try Internet Monk, or Rachel Held Evans or Fred Clark.

And then engage in dialog.  In Barrie we’re lucky to have some quite fascinating discussion nights organised through David’s Temple.   Over the past few months we’ve had some wonderful opportunities for dialog across political, cultural and religious divides.

I hope to see this continue, and I’m glad that Mapleview is taking these opportunities to connect digitally to the broader community.