Founded by a group of believers who wanted to reach those who didn't connect with other church communities, Ecclesiax was launched as church with an artistic twist: worship included painting, poetry, music and at times even juggling.
"They wanted to see what they could do differently that would engage [un-churched] people," says Cameron Montgomery, the church's pastor. "They had people bring secular music and explain how it connected to God and their journey, they often rearranged the seats into a circle, and one guy [wrote] a hip-hop/rap for a sermon."
"We make easels, sketchbooks and paint materials available so people know that any form of creativity is encouraged as worship. The idea is that everybody has been given some sort of creative gift; whether you are creating a masterpiece or something that would go on the fridge, it's still worship."
Montgomery says encouraging members to journal, write poetry and draw throughout the service encourages participation and forms a "visual journal" for the community.
"Trying to do something creative gets people outside their comfort zone and thinking about church involvement in different ways," says Dave Thompson. "One thing I have said is, 'draw whatever you think about, not to make it pretty, but to inspire you to reflect more.'"
Thompson believes struggling through the discomfort and self-doubts you may feel helps you express yourself to God very honestly. He says regardless of your skill level, being able to say, "I created something and I did it for God," brings confidence.
Montgomery says valuing and creating art as an act of worship enriches us as people and as believers.
"Every time I'm painting something for the church, it's an act of worship for me. It has allowed me to grow as a Christian, as a creative person, and it's helped with having a pastor's heart. It opens up another avenue for reflection and exploring the things we are discussing as a church."