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.
Search Committee Update – May 5 2018
We made it!
We made it across the job description finish line!
The final version of the job description has been carefully crafted, reviewed, edited and prayed over many times. We as a church have officially launched our lead pastor position into the public eye after months of prayer, anticipation and excitement. As a search committee we thank you as a congregation and fellow disciples for your patience and support as we journeyed towards this phase. We are very excited to see who the Lord has prepared for us!
We truly believe the Holy Spirit has sculpted the job description as we came humbly before Him in prayer. With that as the foundation, the board, search committee, our former lead pastor Ian Lawson, district superintendent, staff (all were interviewed), and the congregational survey helped get us to this final draft. We are very thankful for the teamwork, collaboration, love and support that surrounded us as we did this work. What a joy it is to serve here at E-Free Lethbridge!
What happens now?
We have just sent out the job description to key contacts, leaders and influencers as of late this week, as well as posting it at Christian colleges and universities across Canada. The job description will also be posted to our website for public viewing and will be searchable worldwide as of May 6, 2018. It is prudent for us to share that this new phase we are now entering will be confidential, as we protect all applicants sending in resumes in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you for understanding and honouring this.
We want to encourage you all as a congregation to continue to use this “gap period” wisely, prayerfully, and productively. Believe it or not, it has only been 3 months since Ian’s last Sunday message to us! Thank you for your continued prayers, serving and volunteering, tithes and offering, and your commitment to the ministries that take place here from week to week. It is a joy watching us all continue to serve God and each other during this “gap period”. There are so many amazing things that continue to happen every week in and outside of the walls of E-Free Lethbridge. Please continue to pray for board, the staff and us as the search committee, as we still need your prayers. Thank you!
Many thank you’s to pass on:
- Thank you to the staff and board for persevering and leading well during this time. They have all done exceptionally well and have served with great amounts of joy and excitement. We have a great team that leads us and we are proud to call this church home!
- Thank you to the staff that helped us as a search committee in different areas of research, document preparation and editing, survey creation and completion, marketing, communication, and the list goes on and on. This is an additional task that was placed in front of you on top of regular day-to-day duties and you all helped willingly.
- Thank you, Congregation, for your love, support, and prayers. They were felt continuously and were more encouraging than you realize. Your prayers gave us strength and confidence that was not our own and we needed that! Thank you everyone!
Please continue to check the blog and bulletin for future announcements as we journey in the days ahead. We are excited to give you updates when possible!
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).
In January and February 2018, our congregation was invited to participate in a survey 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. Our deepest thanks to the 500 people who shared their feedback and comments with such thoughtful consideration. We are encouraged by your responses and comments, which will be used alongside other resources as we collaborate with the board to craft a job description. Thank you for praying with us as we continue to seek God’s guidance in the search for our new Lead Pastor.
Note: The following is a summary of the survey results and do not include analysis of the “Comments” section of the survey.
Overview of Survey Respondents
• 60% female and 40% male
• Country of Origin: Canada = 89%, with respondents also from: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe
• 62% members and 38% non-members
• 83% felt membership was important
• 73% of respondents volunteered in church
• 47% of respondents volunteer in the community
Top Reasons Respondents Attend E-Free
• 74% feel that our church strengthens their faith
• 56% feel that our church strengthens their family, 35% felt it does to some extent
• 51% said they are being discipled in their walk with Christ, 42% say they are to some extent
Top things Our Congregation Feels Characterize Our Church
These are the top ten results. Respondents were asked to choose their top 5, so percentages reflect a summary of their five choices.
• 66% feel they are learning and growing as a result of the Biblical teaching, 30% say they are to some extent
• 74% feel confident in the staff led team, 21% say they are to some extent
• 66% are aware of opportunities to use their gifts in the church, 27% say they are to some extent
• 40% say they use their gifts at E-Free, 41% say they do to some extent
• 42% say E-Free is meeting needs in the community, 53% say we are to some extent
• 46% say they feel the name of our church reflects who we are, 41% say it does to some extent
Top Attributes Desired in the New Lead Pastor
• 36% feel the age of our new lead pastor doesn’t matter, 25% prefer age 30-45, 34% prefer age 46-55
• 55% feel the marital status of the new Lead Pastor does not matter, 44% prefer married with children
Have questions or comments? Feel free to contact Sid Bergsma, Search Committee Chairperson, or any member of the committee.
To view more survey results, click here.
We as a Search Committee feel encouraged more and more every week. Thank you!
I think we all as congregants go through phases where we wonder “how healthy is the culture here at Efree? Do we actually love each other? What is like to walk in to the doors of this building and be part of our community?” With our role as the Search Committee we get to hear more stories of encouragement and joy than we ever thought possible. Never once did we assume that our little committee would have the privilege of emails, texts, meetings and phone calls encouraging us and the journey we are on with the Board. The one thing that continues to astound us, is the beauty of our culture and how real each individual is once we connect on a relational level. We cannot escape the daily encouragements that come our way and the non-stop prayers…nor would we ever want to escape that!! 🙂 We love you fellow brothers and sisters. Thank you for journeying with us as we volunteer in this way.
The answer to those questions we just listed in the above paragraph are…We do love each other and we are feeling that, and we also hear so many stories of genuine love for one another that is happening outside from our committee. Life groups adding new families, new singles, couples and families attending services for the first time. New leaders rising up in volunteer positions and also the staff learning to lead together without Ian and doing so with excellence and joy. New friendships being developed through our ministries. All this done with grace, love and passion! God is good.
We also wanted to update everyone that we are in the stage of creating a job description. We have been reading books, blogs, sermons and summarizing the data gathered from our staff interviews and the congregational survey. (Thank you to everyone that completed a survey). We have had one meeting with the Board and have another meeting coming up March 24th. We will be discussing this research, data gathered and working towards a job description. We are excited to be at this stage and look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit guides and directs us from here. We humbly submit our results and efforts to the Board for their final review and leadership. Please continue to pray for us and the Board as we work together on this specific spot in our Lead Pastor search.
Couple quick updates:
- Sunday, March 25th we will be giving a quick update from the stage. We are aiming to do this at all our services.
- We will be sharing some of the highlights/results from the congregational survey that was recently completed.
- Sunday, March 25th we will be having intentional times of prayer in the morning and afternoon at Efree. There will be more information coming out regarding this soon. Yvonne Groenenboom has been giving leadership to this and we are very thankful for her efforts!
Thank you once again for your support, patience and prayers during this time. Please continue to love one another and encourage our amazing staff whenever possible. They are doing excellent work and care so deeply for all of us and those who do not know Him in our city. We are blessed!!
Psalm 27:4. One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
What a fun month for us as a search committee! The hours were heavy, but the joy received makes all the effort worth it. God has provided us lots of strength, peace and patience over the last 3 months and we continue to covet your prayers. Thank you so much for journeying with us.
Since our January 4th update we had:
-Two more meetings as a committee since Jan 4th (This month we met Jan 4th, Jan 18 and 25th)
-3 full days of staff interviews in the middle of January. These meetings were a blast for us as a search committee as we got to hear from the hearts and minds of our amazing staff. These interviews along with the congregational online survey, are key pieces to the research we are doing as we develop the Job Description for our new lead pastor. (These are all confidential interviews and not released to any staff member. Only Board and committee).
Creation and completion of the Congregational Survey which you all should now have. Please provide your insight, opinion and brilliance on these surveys. We are very excited to have the data gathered by Feb 11th and start to wrestle through the results. Thank you for making time for this. (These are all confidential surveys and not released to any staff member. Only Board and committee). UPDATE: The Survey is now closed.
Today is a very special and yet strange day for all of us. It is the final message that Ian will be giving as lead pastor at Efree Lethbridge. Special because we celebrate 20 years of leadership and shepherding us as a congregation. Yet strange because as we celebrate, there is a mourning as we say goodbye to our lead pastor and friend. We love you Ian!
We thought it would be appropriate to answer a couple key questions that may start to pop up in the days and weeks ahead. We hope these are helpful and please feel free to share with those that do not follow the blog or have had time to read it. This keeps us all on the same page and journeying as one tightly knit family:
-“Gap”. There will be a gap in time between Ian’s departure and our next lead pastors arrival. We have read books and blogs and interviews from across North America on how to journey well in this next phase as a church. It is a healthy time for us as a church and Efree staff to have a gap time between one pastor and the next. How long? We don’t know. Only God knows. We will be carrying forward with our mandate from the Efree Board to search for our next lead pastor (internally and externally), but ultimately will not rush this process. We will operate in God’s timing and continue our process as we have done so far pursuing the finish line.
-Who’s leading then? Great question! It honestly is. Our staff is well equipped, wise, Godly, strong, and ready to operate well in the days ahead. They are prepared for this “gap” period and will do amazing.
– How many resumes do you have already? None! Big ol’ donut and that is by design. We do not have a formal job description created yet. That work has just been started this month of January as the surveys and research is finishing up. We will not be writing out the job description for the Board’s approval until the congregational survey is done and we have summarized all the staff interviews we did. We will then compile all this data and submit this to the board for final approval.
– The Board. The previous point leads perfectly to this one. This is the board’s hire to make. We as a search committee have been selected and tasked with the job to research, create a job description, and then find excellent candidates for that position. The board will then do final interviews with the candidate(s) and make the final decision. Please continue to pray for us and the board in the months ahead.
– Serving as a body. Now is such a critical and yet beautiful time for us as a congregation to be the body of Christ and live out John 13:31-38. Let us love each other well and seek out ways to love personally, practically and productively. Let’s encourage our staff, let’s encourage our board, let’s encourage each other and show the rest of the world how love for one another can look. This excites us!
Thank you once again for journeying and praying with us.
Until next time, Godspeed.
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.
January 4, 2018
Tonight we had an excellent meeting!
Thank you for your prayers as we had the Holy Spirit guide and direct our meeting. We need your prayers as we do our work. Once again, thank you to all that have signed up on the prayer team lead by our friend Yvonne.
Stay tuned for the congregational survey which will be available online and in paper copy in the coming days. This will be announced as soon as it comes available. This survey will be helpful for us as a committee and our future lead pastor. We look forward to your wise and prayerful input.
December 18, 2017
Hey E-Free Lethbridge and beyond! Thank you for following along here and staying committed to praying with us as the search committee does it’s work. We are honoured with this opportunity to serve our local church. Here are some updates to keep you in the “loop”.
• We have had 6 formal meetings so far. Most recently December 14, 2017.
• We had a great meeting several months ago with Rob Cave, our District Superintendent. He had excellent insight, encouragement, and general recommendations
• We had our first congregational announcement at all services on December 10, 2017.
• We continue to work through the Pastoral Search Committee document that has been provided by the Evangelical Free Church denomination. This resource is a large document but has been very helpful.
• The article “Leadership and Church Size Dynamics” by Tim Keller is a must read for us as a committee but we encourage everyone to read it. It is a very interesting read about church size and it’s impacts, needs, etc.
• We have been holding on to the Bible dearly and reviewing our Statement of Faith consistently as well as we continue to work on individual tasks.
• As mentioned in the Dec 10th announcement, we will be sending out a Congregational Survey to everyone in the new year. We look forward to hearing from you. 🙂
• Lastly, we look forward to providing further updates as we progress along. Thank you for your prayers!