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  • Ron Gladden



Does greater Vancouver, British Columbia, need another church?

Yes. Especially this one.

LIFE+APP is the dream of Jonathan and Teresa Penner. Their approach is fresh. It isn’t copied from the latest, greatest church that is surging with new attenders (most of whom were attending another church before that one started). They believe that our world would be a better place if we would apply the things Jesus taught in our relationships. And they are rolling it out in a neoteric way.

Starting with the why, LIFE+APP is all about the restoration of relationship with ourselves, others, and God. “We’re an eclectic mix of skeptics, seekers, followers, leaders, and world changers who just want to get real about restoring relationships in our homes, schools, workplaces, and community,” says Jonathan. “If ever there were a champion for the restoration of relationships, it was Jesus. He created communities known by the way they loved each other — and their enemies. What we’re doing in launching LIFE+APP is simply joining Him on this adventure.”

LIFE+APP is structured around three things: Circles, Soul, and U.

LIFE+APP Circles

Because learning to love like Jesus is going to take more than hearing a great speaker or attending an inspiring event, LIFE+APP encourages everyone to join or form a Circle. Circles are like extended families doing life together on mission. They are micro-communities, where people are intentional about knowing and being known, loving and being loved, serving and being served, and celebrating and being celebrated. Circles mentor each other toward relational and spiritual growth, and they respond to and serve the needs of others in their communities, cities, and around the world. Circles are a priority at LIFE+APP, because they’re where life change happens most.


While the goal is to move as many as possible from rows to circles, an energy and a buzz are created when people congregate in large gatherings. Something happens when large numbers of people come together around a common cause. So to complement Circles, LIFE+APP also throws a weekend celebration gathering called Soul.

Soul events are like church — for those who don’t like church. Through music, the arts, transformational Bible teaching, and stories, Soul is designed to celebrate God and inspire people to consider His ways. Circles are about ap•pli•ca•tion — putting something into operation. Soul is about in•spi•ra•tion — getting the idea about what to do and the impetus to do it.


LIFE+APP U is what will become LIFE+APP’s education and personal development resource centre. Through strategic partnerships and a growing number of volunteer mentors and teachers, LIFE+APP U will offer workshops, mentoring, and resources focused on the areas that intersect with relational life.

The Niche

“Our family has two passions,” notes Jonathan. “Seeing marriages, families, and relationships thrive, and seeing those who don’t like church come to know and follow Jesus.” For 25 years Jonathan and Teresa have mentored couples, supported families, and done all they can to build up relationships.

At the same time they’ve watched too many marriages crumble, families blow apart, and friendships dissipate. “It’s just not okay!”

Having grown up in an Adventist home, Jonathan still remembers the mantra “The health message is the entering wedge of the Gospel.” And 100 years ago, that was most definitely true. But today, on the west coast of Canada, the greatest felt need has changed. Scanning the landscape of today’s culture, the crisis surrounding marriage, family, and relationships is clear.

“It’s why we’re launching LIFE+APP. We don’t want to be simply a church with a marriage and family life ministry. We want to be a community that allows those who don’t yet know Jesus to taste and see — to experience His blessings in their homes and communities. Then, as they experience His goodness, we point them to Jesus, revealing his plan to redeem and restore all things.”

I know what you’re thinking: This sounds wonderful. I have dreamed of being part of something creative, committed, and courageous. I would give my life to this. I’m so thankful for leaders like Jonathan and Teresa who are willing to go for it! Is there any way to clone these guys and move them to our town?

LIFE+APP’s first big event was Friday Night Soul on November 14. The team rented a theatre at a Fine Arts School in Langley. The theme of the program was “We Can Work It Out”, and they wrestled with the question: What if there was a way to resolve family conflict by dealing with it at its source? They aimed to help couples and families who feel like the Tower of Babel has been planted between them, because once they start arguing, they can no longer communicate their basic needs.

British Columbia is a tough place to start a church; it’s an understatement to say that respect for Christianity is low. But the dream is big, and the vision is clear. Jonathan and Teresa are moving forward. To use Mission Catalyst language, LifeApp is in the Assembly phase. Jonathan and Teresa are building a Pivotal Design team. Soul events will, at first, happen once a month while Circles are being birthed and U events get off the ground.

If you’re on Facebook, look them up and “Like” their page. Keep up with their progress at If you’re in the area, attend and serve with them. And be sure to join with us — and many others — in praying that God will prosper this audacious dream to plant LIFE+APP and to change a lot of lives.

Your coworker in Christ,


P.S. People like you are indispensable to our mission. We appreciate your financial support. Thank you for helping Mission Catalyst create healthy, unselfish, growing churches to keep reaching the Next Person! Make a donation here.

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