By Carl Stagner
“I believe we’re not so much in the church-building business as we’re in the change-the-world business. And furthermore, I believe that we’re not so much in the reformation business as we are in the reclamation business—taking back what hell has stolen.” Jim Lyon’s bold words have set the stage for the three Church of God regional conventions this year, where the theme “Reclaim Your Neighbor[hood]” will be woven into the teaching, dialogue, and worship. Vancouver Church, host of the first of the regional conventions (April 26–28 in Vancouver, Washington), has a rich history of reclamation. As they welcome convention-goers to their campus, they’re excited to share some of the ways God has empowered them to reclaim what hell has stolen—both locally and globally.
Vancouver Church has become synonymous with missions. By supporting and facilitating local and global efforts, Vancouver Church has long been a driver for kingdom advancement. Less than a year as senior pastor, Chris Kainu has been a strong advocate for the church’s missional disposition. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” Chris explains. “The Western church, whether big or small, are wealthy. We’re very wealthy on the world scene.” Global Strategy’s Alfonso and Elizabeth Ayala (Belize) and Don and Caroline Armstrong (Asia–Pacific) represent just a small portion of the church’s global outreach. But local missions are just as important to Pastor Chris.
“Some would say the big theme is that we are joining God in his redemptive work in the world,” he explains. “If we can’t go across the street, then there are some serious shortcomings in our spiritual lives.” Two of the major examples of how Vancouver Church is reclaiming their own neighborhood are The Giving Closet and Kingsway Christian Schools.
“The Giving Closet is a phenomenal resource center for people who lack the basic need of clothing,” Chris explains. “It started within the church, and now has become its own organization. Then there’s Kingsway Christian School, which just recently became its own organization. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen several professionals who are churchless but wanted their kids to have a better set of values than they saw in the public schools. Though they themselves have been leery of the church, they’ve been dipping their toes in the water. Now they’re coming to the church, too.”
Chris knows many have paved the way for his role today at Vancouver Church. God has already used Vancouver Church in countless ways to change the world in the name of Jesus. But at just the right time, at just the right point on the timeline of Vancouver’s ever-unfolding story, God brought Chris Kainu along to keep the momentum going. “I want to join God where he is working,” he reflects. “I’m standing on the shoulders of a lot of other people. You could liken Vancouver Church to a historic hotel with qualities you just don’t see these days, yet it’s also in genuine need of some restoration. You don’t come in and just start knocking walls down, nor do you simply change one room at a time. So I’m really in that discovery process. We’re continuing to partner with local and international ministries. I’d love to recapture the short-term mission experience. And the biggest dream is to reach the Clark County suburbanite, leading our neighbors to Jesus—whether they are unchurched, de-churched, anti-church, or just clueless. We want to walk across the street and lead them to Jesus!”
Pastor Chris and Vancouver Church look forward to welcoming the Church of God to the regional convention, April 26–28. He’s delighted that more in the Church of God will have the opportunity to participate because of the regional location. “We’re happy that, as one of the larger churches, we can be a servant and a support to others in the Church of God. We’re looking forward to being a part of the relational connections as the Holy Spirit leads us forward as individuals, as churches, and as a movement.”