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Important Update Regarding E-Free West

Posted on: May 14th, 2018 by Christy Jansma

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 info@efreelethbridge.ca.

 

Click here for a printable version of these FAQs.

 

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