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!
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.
Pastor Ian shares from his heart on how He believes the Lord is directing his future. Over the past weeks and months, he and the leadership have set a timeline and plan for moving forward, with his roles and responsibilities scheduled to end on the last Sunday of January 2018.
Please be in prayer for Pastor Ian, our church board and staff, and our church family as we journey through these changes and look forward to the future together.
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).