Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Basic Church Information
Church Name: GraceLife Church of Edmonton
Senior/Lead Pastor: James Coates
Board of Elders/Leadership Staff: See church leadership here.
Address: 51529a Range Road 262, Spruce Grove, AB T7Y 1 B3, Canada
Social Media: Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gracelife%20Church%20of%20Edmonton/2129163740629309/)
Online Services: https://gracelife.ca/sermons/
Denomination: Calvinist/Lordship Salvation Teachings
Preaching Style: Expository/Verse by Verse
Membership Requirements: Yes
Tithes/Compelled Giving: No
Financial Transparency: No
Answered Questionnaire: No
Affiliations: Calvinism/Lordship Salvation
Red Flags of Abuse: A former member of this church has given us permission to share his personal experience in the church to warn others of what they might encounter by joining.
Additionally, we've had a current member of GraceLife, Ryan Martin, request that we share his review of the church as well because his experience hasn't been anything like Scott's. Here is his statement about GraceLife Church:
"Solid, Christ-centered, God-honouring, clear, Biblical, expository verse-by-verse preaching! My wife and I have been blessed to be part of this precious local fellowship. The leadership is firmly and humbly committed to faithfully shepherding and building up believers and proclaiming the whole counsel of God with an unapologetic stand upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love this body of believers and the commitment of the elders to honouring God by leading the Church with excellence and integrity. Such commitment to God’s Word is rare these days and the preaching at GLC doesn’t bend to the whims of seeker-sensitivity and people-pleasing. If you desire a warm, fuzzy, comfortable social club, this is not the Church for you. If you desire to serve Christ’s people and to be committed to the local Church under biblical leadership in submission to the Word of God, you will feel at home at Grace Life Church.
"GLC distinctives include scriptural sufficiency and inerrancy, expositional preaching, historical-grammatical hermeneutics, reformed soteriology, baptist ecclesiology, plurality of elders, futuristic-premillennial eschatology, presuppositional apologetics, cessationism, complementarianism, biblical creationism."
If you are a member of GraceLife or are attending and considering becoming a member, regardless of which personal account you find more truthful, please consider walking yourself through Steve Hassan's BITE Model and the Undue Influence Continuum to protect yourself from potential abuse.
1. What is your church's official position on tithes and offerings?
This church ignored our emails and requests to answer our questions, but the website doesn't provide any information on this church's position regarding tithing or financial support for the local church. My discussions with former and current members of this church suggest they do not pressure giving or preach tithing and we don't see it as a requirement in their church membership agreement either.
2. Does your church have official memberships, and if so, does it include a membership agreement or contract?
3. Is your church financially transparent or accountable to either the local church, a third party (such as the ECFA), or the universal church/public?
I see nothing on the church website to suggest they are financially transparent to the church congregation, but only to Elders of the church. However, we've heard accounts from church members that the church is in fact completely transparent with members. I am waiting to hear from the church and receive documented proof of this before giving a real answer to this question.
4. Which denomination does your church align with, if any at all?
While there are no specific denominations listed for this church on Google or Social Media, you can read their doctrinal positions on some very specific issues on their website on the What We Teach page. We also know that this is a Reformed Theology/Calvinist church and according to the testimony of one former member, they are very strict about it. They also teach Lordship Salvation, which you can read for yourself on their What We Teach page.
5. Is the church's pastor available for questions or comments regarding the church's doctrines or policies?
Perhaps to someone walking up to the Pastor on a Sunday they might be more open, but I emailed them my questions about two months ago and have yet to receive any response. In my personal experience, the answer to this question is 'No'.
6. Is your church tolerant and accepting of differing non-essential doctrinal views, such as differences in eschatology, ecclesiology, and others?
Not according to the experience of former member Scott Lyons, who describes being put under church discipline and ultimately excommunicated for his disagreements with the church leadership on specific non-essential doctrines relating to Calvinism and Lordship Salvation. Due to the specific nature of the church's What We Teach page, it's clear that they expect members to agree with their teachings and that disagreeing with them may cause contention.
7. Does your church require its members to be baptized?
Yes. It appears if one has not already been baptized (by immersion) as described on their What We Teach page, members must be baptized.
8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like at your church.
There is no description of what a typical service looks like at this church on their website. On their Visit Us page, it says this:
"Our fervent desire and steadfast commitment is to have a biblically sound church whereby the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached. Our intention is to operate on Scriptural principles and guidelines that control how we function both as individuals and as a church. Our aim is not to please men, nor follow worldly practices; rather, we aim to please our Lord and Master, the Head of the church, Jesus Christ.
We believe without reservation that the Scriptures are the word of God. They are inerrant (without error) and infallible (incapable of leading astray). The Scriptures speak with authority in all matters, and our desire is to submit to that authority."
9. How many people does your church have on staff, both paid and volunteer?
The church's website only lists four men in church leadership but doesn't list anyone else on the church staff.
10. What is the pastor's educational background?
There is no information on Pastor James Coate's educational background on the church website, but we were able to track down this information from a former member, which shows he went to John MacArthur's Seminary in California. This is also more evidence of the church's Calvinistic affiliations, teachings, and their teaching of the Lordship Salvation doctrine, which John MacArthur teaches as well.
11. How does the church discipline its members with sin? Does the church have a discipline policy or official protocol?
GraceLife's Discipline Policy is described in their church bylaws under the Church Membership section.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, bonuses, benefits, etc...) and how is that compensation established (Ex: board of elders, church vote, etc..)?
We couldn't get anyone to answer this question and it isn't answered in their church bylaws either.
13. What is the size of the congregation and any space or buildings used for church services or meetings?
According to a former member's description, there are about 300-400 people in this church. We don't know how much space they own for services or how large their building is, but there is a picture available of what their building looks like, which I've included below.
14. What is the pastor’s ministerial work history? Have they been the pastor of or on the leadership staff at any other church? Please list their past ministry work and their reasons for leaving those ministries.
Since there is no information on the pastor's work history or educational background on the website, and they declined to answer any of our questions, we don't know the answer to this either. If anyone has this information, please feel free to share it for the knowledge of the local churchgoing community.
15. How does the church safeguard against any kind of abuse (sexual, verbal, emotional, spiritual)? Has there ever been an incident or conflict within the church involving potential abuse? If so, how was it resolved?
This church's membership agreement shows red flags of potential abuse and the experience of former member Scott Lyons suggests they have no safeguards in place to prevent the abuse of power or spiritual abuse that becomes much more plausible in churches like GraceLife, where the hierarchy of power within the church is very top-heavy and closed off to any kind of questioning or accountability.