Len Banks, Connections Pastor at Mariners, traces his heart for connecting church members with God and each other to his mother’s struggles to find a place in her church when he was growing up. Len recalls that his mother struggled to maintain her faith after a divorce that, in that era, left her ostracized from her church community and struggling to make connections. Her struggles illustrate the importance of a welcoming and vibrant church community in the faith of each member and newcomer. “Later in life, after I became a pastor, I developed an understanding of the role of connections in the local church,” Len said. “I have a passion to see people grow in their faith by having a place where they belong and connect. Serving God is not done alone. It is done in community.”
Len’s primary role at Mariners is to help connect each member of the church community to others through LifeGroups, service and fellowship opportunities. He also manages the First Impressions teams so that newcomers will make initial connections that inspire them to return. “Ultimately, I want everybody to develop a deep sense of relationship with other people who can encourage them in their faith journey, and to have a transformative experience in Christ. I want people to be at the church more than not. I want to remove road blocks that make that difficult and create clear pathways for involvement. I want to entice people with the excitement of what they can accomplish in Christ.”
How New Wave Will Help:
A larger lobby area with expanded restrooms, seating and other amenities will provide a space and atmosphere to make it easier for the Mariners family to connect before and after worship and provide a more welcoming environment for newcomers. The expansion also will help us connect with the larger Coastsidecommunity by providing a public meeting space with coffee and comfort during the week. “Too me, the lobby is the place where all of this happens, where questions can be answered and introductions can be made, where post-worship conversations can happen. But right now, it’s so congested that it’s difficult for people to linger and talk,” Len said. “The lobby is not a pass-through hallway. It’s a place where ministry begins, where friendships begin and where connections are made. A place needs to be created where that can happen more effectively.”
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By Dan Page, Volunteer Storyteller