Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
It’s exciting to see how God is at work in our church family through the Advent Conspiracy! Has participation in the Advent Conspiracy changed how you or your family experience Christmas? Have you noticed new opportunities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All? We’d love to hear how the Advent Conspiracy has touched your life!
Dear Church Family,
We are pleased to share with you that Geoff Heth has accepted our invitation to serve as Lead Pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge!
On Monday evening, 98% of the membership voted “Yes!” Geoff spent the past couple of days listening for God’s voice and in final consultation with family, mentors, and praying friends before contacting the Board with his acceptance on Wednesday evening.
Geoff will join our staff on February 1, 2019, with opportunities for connection through the coming months. Thank you for your trust and faithful prayers as we have journeyed through this process. Please continue to pray for Geoff and Janel and their family as they finish their schooling, wrap up commitments in Calgary, and begin a transition to life in Lethbridge.
We are thrilled to welcome the Heths to our church family and are excited to see what God has in store for us and our community in the coming years!
With Gratitude and Praise,
The EFCL Board
May 14, 2018
After many conversations by the Board, Lead Team, and Directors of E-Free West, and after much prayer and consideration, we have decided to wind down the E-Free West Sunday service.
E-Free West began four years ago with a group of people passionate about impacting West Lethbridge with the gospel. We have appreciated the obvious growing desire its members have for building intentional relationships with our westside neighbours. This congregation has been a welcoming home where many people have found encouragement and connection to God and His Church. Many of its members we may never have had the opportunity to reach through our south campus. Since the very beginnings of E-Free West, we have seen God at work in so many ways—from sorting out logistical details, providing leadership and volunteers, to changed lives and incredible discipleship. Those who have walked through our doors to engage in worship, small group, and community life at E-Free West have become a part of our church family.
This decision brings many emotions with it, and we look to the Lord for guidance, wisdom and strength in navigating through the transition. God’s Word gives us assurance that He is for us and for our city, even the midst of these disappointments. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
Please pray. Pray for those who call E-Free West home. Pray that they would continue to seek Christ and draw near to Him through this transition. Pray that they would find a place to land as part of a church family where they can continue to grow and also serve. Pray for the congregation as they continue to meet for worship for three more Sundays, serve their neighbours through the westside Clothing Exchange and Summer Day Camp, and explore other ways to build relationships with neighbours. Pray for wisdom, guidance, and peace for the Koops as they continue to shepherd the people under their care through this transition.
We and the congregation of E-Free West thank you for your prayers and support.
In His Service,
The Board of Directors and Lead Team
FAQs Regarding the Closure of the E-Free West Sunday Service
What is E-Free West?
• E-Free West is a satellite ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge that meets on the westside for Sunday worship services at 4 pm, with high involvement in community groups during the week.
• Beginning as an idea proposed by a core group of committed disciples with a passion for reaching their westside neighbours, the first step launched in January 2014 as “The Crossing” service at E-Free’s south campus. Running as an 11:00 am Sunday service in the gym for a year, the service ended in January 2015 to focus on discipleship training and strategy with a core leadership team, heading toward a westside service launch that fall with 100 committed people.
• In September 2015, E-Free West launched with Sunday services at 9:49 am at Columbia Assisted Living, led by Scott Currie, with attendance settling in around 75 (over 6 months). When Scott resigned to pursue further studies abroad, Allister and Danielle Koop, part of the core group since the proposal stage, were hired to share a part time role as Site
• Navigating the logistics and challenges of starting a new ministry, including a move to Westside Community Church in August 2017, E-Free West’s passion has remained strong for reaching the westside community. The Koops have been able to form strong relational bonds with the people of E-Free West and their leadership has been respected and appreciated.
What were the deciding factors in bringing the E-Free West Sunday service to a close?
• The availability of affordable and appropriate space has been a challenge for E-Free West from the start. The only facility that was available when the ministry launched on the westside was Columbia Assisted Living, a Senior’s Care facility. E-Free West made this facility work for a year and a half, however in the summer of 2017 circumstances necessitated a change of location. The only available venue, Westside Community Church, required a change in time to Sundays at 4 pm.
• With the shift in time and location, attendance that had been slowly declining suddenly dropped sharply in August and again at Christmas, falling below the critical mass required to keep the service viable. (Worship service attendance in 2018 has averaged less than 30.)
• Recognizing that the 4 pm service time was a significant challenge for both those in attendance as well as a many of those who had chosen to attend elsewhere, we attempted to find a venue that would allow for a morning service. However no appropriate, affordable location was found.
• Following ongoing conversations involving the Koops, Lead Team, and Board considering the vision of E-Free West and the support required to maintain and rebuild the ministry, and after much prayerful deliberation, leadership reached the conclusion that we do not have the financial or organizational support for a satellite service at this time without pulling resources from other key areas of our discipleship strategy.
What is the timeline and communication plan?
We are planning a 4-week wrap up of E-Free West, which began with a verbal announcement following the E-Free West service on May 13.
• Tuesday, May 1 – A special meeting was held to inform the E-Free West Leadership Team
• May 7-12 – Allister and Dani personally inform individual members of E-Free West
• Sunday, May 13 – Public announcement at the E-Free West service
• Monday, May 14 – Whole church informed by email including FAQs
• Tuesday, May 22 – Family Meeting for the E-Free West congregation
• Sunday, May 27 – Second to last service with Allister teaching
• Sunday, June 3 – E-Free West Celebration / Prayer and Worship Service
Do we have a different plan for reaching the west side of Lethbridge?
• While we do not have a strategic plan for engaging the westside specifically at this point, we have expressed a priority for increasing engagement and partnerships with the community across our entire city.
• We expect that discussion and planning around building relationships with those living on the westside will continue under the umbrella of Community Engagement.
• The core leadership team of E-Free West feels a calling to reach unchurched people on the westside and our prayer is that whether as a community group or individually, this team will continue to be active in ministering together among the westside community.
• The Koops have been asked to meet with the Bard and contribute a report, sharing from their perspective the unique needs of the West Side, opportunities for ministry, and lessons the church can learn from their experience at E-Free West to be more effective in ministry in the future.
Does this mean we won’t start other satellite ministries in the future?
• Not necessarily. While E-Free West did not grow as originally envisioned, God has been at work at E-Free West and our church as a whole through our experience on the westside. The work done there has been valuable—relationships formed (some that we would never have had opportunity to build through the services at the south campus), ministry experience gained, leadership and serving opportunities for a large percentage of the congregation, partnering with hosts, and growing as disciples determined to live intentionally for the kingdom, making the most of every opportunity to seek and serve their neighbours in their westside community.
• Since launching E-Free West, we have learned many things about satellite ministry, both from experience and from other churches. Reports on our experience and the lessons learned though E-Free West will be prepared for the board to help guide future conversations.
• If we felt God’s leading us toward another satellite ministry in the future, we would consider the opportunity, taking into account the lessons learned through our experience with E-Free West. We are encouraged to learn retrospectively but also think and dream about the future.
What about the individuals who call E-Free West home?
The Koops are contracted by the church through July 31, 2018. Following the wrap-up of E-Free West services on June 3, the Koops will use their remaining time on staff to continue pastoring their congregation through this transition, encouraging individuals to settle into other E-Free worship and ministry settings or other churches where they can continue to thrive and grow, and continuing the ministry to the westside though the westside Clothing Exchange (June 2) and the westside Summer Day Camp (July 9–13).
I have more questions, who can I talk to?
Please feel free to contact any Board or Lead Team member, or start a conversation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone from the church or community is welcome to choose free items to meet their needs.
South Campus Gym (4717 24 Ave. S): May 26 from 10 am–2 pm | E-Free West (480 McMaster Blvd W): June 2 from 10 am–2 pm
We are collecting donations of clean, gently-used men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and shoes until Friday, May 18. No household items please.
Donation Locations & Times:
South Campus in Room 105 — Monday–Thursday 9-5, Friday 9-noon, or at Weekend Services
E-Free West — Monday–Friday 10-4 or Sundays at 4 pm
Contact Audra to help with sorting or on the weekend of the event (329.3125).
Dear Church Family,
I wrote my final report to the board for their meeting this past week. I’m compelled to share it with you as my final FreeMail letter. Over recent months I’ve been reading and meditating on Acts 20, which is Paul’s farewell to the elders at Ephesus, and used it as a template for my final board report. Please understand that I do not see myself as an apostle, nor am I presuming to write Scripture. If I am to identify with Paul, it is with his recognition of sin (1 Timothy 1:15) and the inner temptations of the mind (Romans 7). These too are my realities, by which I could have been disqualified from serving Christ, except for God’s amazing grace shown to me.
With affection and gratitude,
My life is an open book and you’ve watched how I’ve lived it, from the first day I came to Lethbridge nearly 20 years ago. I’ve served the Lord in submission and with tears (especially these last 3 years) in the midst of testing in various ways. You know that I have not hesitated to teach uncomfortable truths, with the desire that they be helpful to you. Both publicly and in person I’ve attempted to proclaim the gospel in all my teaching by being Christ-centered and cross-focused, based on God’s Word.
Being led by the Holy Spirit, I’m aware that my time with you has come to an end. While I have some tentative plans I do not know what the future holds, but I choose to embrace whatever joys and hardships the Spirit leads me to face. I am prepared to give up my life, should that be God’s calling. My goal is to finish the assignment that the Lord Jesus has given to me, while giving testimony to the good news of God’s grace.
I have attempted, to the best of my ability, to teach and preach everything that God has for you. You and I will never again serve Christ together in the way that we have over these years. That leaves me saddened, and a bit teary. In spite of the challenges, these have been the richest years of my life. I charge you to keep watch over your own souls, which is the basis for your leadership. As leaders of the church you lead out of the richness of your own soul. Be shepherds of the church of God, precious as it is because she is purchased with Jesus’ very own blood. I warn you that upon my departure there is potential for some among you to undermine what God has done. Be on your guard. There are some who would desire to see the church retreat into a legalistic, ultra conservative posture of irrelevance. There are others who would want to lead people towards a more open-minded and culturally acceptable posture, which may compromise the truth. I charge you to resist both by being grounded in the Word of God which is essential for all matters of faith and practice. Be on your guard against those who would draw the disciples away, and after themselves.
I commit you to God and to the word of his grace. That Word can make you what he wants you to be and give you everything you need to lead his church. I have not been motivated by material gain. You have been generous towards me and I have attempted to manage my material resources in a godly manner. I’ve tried to provide an example for all with hard work and sacrifice. I’ve been generous with all that God has given me – my time, skills, money, and relationships. I charge you likewise to be motivated by the spirit of generosity as Jesus demonstrated. It is he who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
UPDATE: The Congregational Survey is now closed.
The Search Committee for our next Lead Pastor would appreciate your input as part of the search process. The information gathered in this survey is meant to help the Search Committee understand what our church looks like now, what our vision is for the future, to find the right Lead Pastor, and to provide useful information for the new Lead Pastor when he begins his ministry with us.
Everyone who calls E-Free their church home is encouraged to participate at the link below. Each family member over 10 years of age is encouraged to fill in the survey.
Christmas is a time our culture recognizes as an expression of faith. It gives opportunity to both say “Come and listen, and hear the story of the birth of Jesus!”, as well as a time for us to “go and tell”. Our walk with Jesus both draws us into community with one another and also moves us out to love the people that surround us. Loving others takes intentionality.
This Christmas season, we invite you to participate in inviting your friends, neighbours, co-workers, fellow students—those God has placed along your path—to come to your table.
The idea is simple.
1. Invite a group of people that you would love to share a meal with. There is something about sitting around a table. A moment in time to set things aside and focus around food and community. Throw a pizza on the table or get out the fine china. Decorate or pick up the dust bunnies. People want to know and be known, the details don’t matter. A real life shared is what draws us in.
2. After dinner, be intentional in asking four questions to get to know each other better. These are ways to hear each others’ stories and to grow in love and understanding for one another. Ask the questions one at a time. Have each person around the table answer each question.
• What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
• How do you keep your eyes focused on the most important things about the celebration?
• What are some of the stresses that come with holiday season?
• Where are places that you see hope and joy?
• If you have a circle of people who have relationship with Jesus or are open to more spiritual discussion you can also ask one more: How can you share the hope of Jesus with the people around you?
It’s really that simple. You may be surprised by how open your friends are willing to be—all you have to do to find out is to be brave enough to ask a few simple questions.
We are people compelled by love. This Christmas season let’s make space in our lives to share with others our food, our table, and our friendship.
This is an extension of the “IF Tables” that have been happening in Women’s Discipleship. Here’s what people are saying about their IF Tables:
“#IfTable. Mind blown. These gals showed up with their whole hearts wide open. 1000 times better than I could have imagined.”
“Last night I shared a meal with the employees that work with me! We used the questions to get closer to one another and grow our friendships and our understanding of how God is a part of it all. How to reach out to the lonely and come together when we are lonely. This IfTable concept is changing my life!”
“First #IfTable. God’s up to something. We don’t know what yet but we’re along for the ride.”
Annual General Meeting
Monday, November 6 at 7 pm | Gym | Childcare provided
Join us as we look back on the past year of ministry and forward to what’s on the horizon for the coming year. Also on the agenda:
• vote to fill the existing vacancy on the board
• vote on the proposed bylaw change
• financial report
• succession plan
• report on the governance review
Everyone is encouraged to attend. Those who have taken up official membership at E-Free will have the opportunity to vote.
At the May 29, 2017 Members Meeting, the Board gave notice of a future motion regarding changes to Board composition. The board will be asking the membership to vote on the proposed by-law change at the November 6 meeting.
Theological Study: Proposed By-Law Change
Monday, October 30 at 7 pm | Kids Zone Centre
A staff-led biblical perspective in response to the proposed by-law change, including the topic of the role women in church leadership.
LEAD PASTOR SEARCH COMMITTEE
The Board has named the committee tasked with overseeing the search for the next lead pastor of our church. The team will be comprised of: Sid Bergsma, Tanya Duerksen, Nick Korver (Board Representative), Joanne Penner Herron, and Graham Reimer. The Board has also asked Yvonne Groenenboom to serve in the new role of Prayer Coordinator.
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Question: Is the Son of Man coming “in his Father’s glory with his angels” (v.27) the same as “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (v.28)? What does Jesus mean when he says, “Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”?
It might be because I’ve been trained by CAPTOR this summer but, as soon as I start to engage a passage like this I want to know: what’s the context? So, let’s start there.
Jesus is talking to his disciples (v.24). He is making sure they understand the requirements necessary to be his disciple and then goes on to talk about the benefit: being his disciple will cost you now but faithful, sacrificial discipleship is the only way to get rewarded when Jesus returns. Further, the reward will far surpass whatever it might cost you to follow Jesus. Immediately after Jesus’ prediction, we read of Jesus’ transfiguration with Peter, James, and John as eyewitnesses (17:1-8).
When I read statements like “the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels” and “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” I immediately think Jesus must be referring to his eventual return. However, I need to remember that Jesus consistently spoke of his kingdom both as something that was currently established and yet to come. In this case, I think Jesus is talking about both his future return (“”the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person…”) and the present experience of his kingdom (v.28).
Why do I think that Jesus is not talking about his future return when he talks about “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”? The clue is in his prediction that “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” I am quite confident that everyone who was standing there at that time has experienced death. So, unless Jesus was mistaken about when he would return, his prediction in verse 28 cannot be referring to his future return.
Without going into tonnes of detail, people have a few theories about what Jesus was referring to: his transfiguration, his resurrection, Pentecost, the spread of the kingdom through the missionary activity of the Church, or all of the above.
I think Jesus was referring to his transfiguration six days later: first, some of those standing there (James, John, Peter) were witnesses to Jesus’ kingdom glory; second, Peter indicates that his participation in the transfiguration confirms the promise of Jesus’ return (2 Peter 1:16-18); and, by having the transfiguration follow immediately after Jesus’ prediction, I think Matthew, under the direction of the Spirit, wants us to tie the transfiguration to the prediction.
This means “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” refers most directly to the transfiguration, which is a foreshadowing and guarantee of the future glory when “the Son of man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and… reward each person according to what they have done.” In the context, Jesus is saying that it will cost you to follow him but it will be worth it. Peter points to the transfiguration as evidence that this is true – the message of 2 Peter 1 is, “Hold firm to your calling despite the cost. I know it’s worth it because I got a glimpse of the glory that is to come. You don’t want to miss it!”
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Question: How should we understand this verse today? How should we apply it?
When we read a verse like this, we tend to highlight it, put it on a motivational poster, and use it to say that God promises to fulfill my individual plans for my individual future. This is not the way to read and understand the Bible.
First, we must realize that context really matters when we interpret and apply the Bible. This promise is in “the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” (Jeremiah 29:1). So for me to claim this promise as written directly to me is to rip the verse out of its context.
The plans God has is not for an individual, but a people and a nation and they are specific to the context: that God will bring them from exile in Babylon, restoring them to the land and to relationship with himself.
Just because the promise was not made to us, it does not mean that it was not written for us. There are still principles we can draw from this letter Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon. I think Paul picks up on the principle when he wrote the Christians in Rome: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Again, the temptation is to take this verse out of context and make it apply to my individual situation. The good Paul is talking about is being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29-30). This is not a promise that God will do whatever we determine is good; the promise is that whatever circumstances we might face, we can be confident that God will accomplish his purpose and conform us more and more into the image of Jesus.
This is the principle underlying the promise in Jeremiah 29. Things look hopeless for the children of Israel. God had promised Abraham (their ancestor) land, children, and blessing. Now the children have been removed from their land and it seems like they will not be able fulfill their purpose of being a blessing to all nations. God is assuring them that, even though things look hopeless, he will accomplish his purpose for them. The promise was partially fulfilled when the children of Israel returned to the land (something Ken talked about in his sermon). Ultimately, God’s plan was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
So, we cannot claim this verse as a promise that God will fulfill my individual plans for my individual future. However, because Jesus has risen from the dead and because the Spirit has been poured out on us (Romans 8) we can be confident that God will fulfill his promise: one day we will reflect perfectly the glory of Jesus.
(Side note: another verse I’ve often heard people use as a promise of personal power is Philippians 4:13 – Jesus will help me be a better soccer player, student, investor, etc. The wording of the promise itself reminds us not to rip it out of context: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Looking at the context, “all this” refers to Paul’s ability to be “content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (v.12). Clearly this is not a promise that Jesus will give us the strength or ability to do whatever we want. Rather this is a promise that we can be content in poverty or wealth because our confidence is not in wealth but in Christ’s power).