Posts Tagged ‘lethbridge’
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
Thank you everyone for your patience and respect during this “quiet phase”, where we process applications, and pray, pray, pray. As a search committee, we continue to feel God’s leading and presence at our meetings and in our personal lives and we attribute much of this to your continued prayers, support and encouragement. Thank you congregation, staff, board and fellow disciples for journeying with us.
We have been overwhelmed by the strength of the applicants that were received before the deadline of June 30th. We are so very blessed as a church to be in a position to receiving applications from phenomenal and godly men pursuing Jesus in all that they do. What an incredible journey we have had as a search committee watching God work and move in the hearts of these applicants to see who God has chosen for our local church. We have full confidence that the Lord knows exactly who we need and we humbly wait for this confirmation from Him.
We have been tasked by the board to review all applicants to a “short list”, and then present this short and formal list to them. During this time we will begin to contact references that were provided by the applicants and follow our search committee manual that has been well laid out by the E-Free national conference. This guide continues to be an incredible asset and allows to walk in faith and also act professional as a local church body. The reviewing and finalizing of the short list and contacting all references is labour intensive and emotionally demanding. Please pray for energy as the volunteer hours will be comparable to a full time job in the weeks ahead, but we are finding ourselves thriving as a team and experiencing pure joy during this phase.
We meet with the board next week to present this final short list and then will move in partnership with the board towards the end goal of interviews. References obviously will play a significant factor in who is interviewed and if multiple will be, or just one applicant. This where the communication, partnership and leadership will be critical between board and search committee. Please be praying for us.
At this time we do not feel it will be appropriate to indicate the number of applications received by the deadline of June 30th, nor do we feel it would be to proper to disclose how many applicants have made the shortlist. We truly want to honour everyone in the process and ensure they are protected, confidential and respected at every stage. We do feel comfortable saying we are blessed as a congregation to receive the applications that we have to date and are humbled by their desires to serve God. It is a beautiful thing when an applicant desires employment to lead our church and openly states in their resume that they want the best for our church whether it is them chosen or not. Incredible! This type of applicant and resume is not what you see every day. 🙂 The leaders that God has created in our wonderful country is astounding and He is doing good things here in Canada and beyond.
Lastly, we do not wish to deliver hard and fast dates on when the new lead pastor (whoever that is) will start. This will be a conversation that will be had with the board and the applicant(s) in the days to come. We have faith that it will come together in God’s perfect timing and that brings us great peace as we also wonder about a start date.
Thank you everyone for journeying with us. We love you and your prayers.
“Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust your commands.” Pslam 119:66.
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!
How much time passed between the Testaments?
400 years. Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are thought to be the last books written before the New Testament. During this period, no biblical prophet spoke or wrote. This period is called, ‘the period of silence’.
Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing? (Discussed at church @ 6.)
Ian mentioned that sin has been dealt with in Jesus Christ. Job 1: 21 says, the Lord gives and takes away. Therefore, God’s silence is not a result of your sin.
Of course, sin does hinder our growth. As Peter says (1 Peter 2:1 – 3), rid yourselves of all ‘sin” , crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
Is there consequence for sin? Yes. Sin was the reason Jesus hung on a cross. Sin was the reason Israel was exiled. Does that mean God is absent or not involved? No
Does God use silence to test us? Yes. The book of Job is a great example of this. Joseph is another example. He was tested and tried through God’s silence. But God was not absent.
The main point is, we can’t always know why God is silent… But the human experience and the Bible show us that He is perceived to be silent often (almost every book wrestles with this reality). We must remember God is never absent. From scripture, His silence is used for testing, for character development, as a result of sin, and probably many more reasons that we don’t know.
How can we help friends who are going through dark times?
Sometimes, we like to explain their suffering. Sometimes, this isn’t helpful. We see from Job’s friends in the book of Job that they weren’t helpful telling Job why all these bad things were happening to him. They said it is because of sin or unrepentance. But God actually rebukes Job’s friends (Job 42: 7), “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken right”. So telling friends why they are suffering may not be wise at some points. Though, in other times, a word of Truth can be helpful but you must use discernment.
Practically, how can we help during dark times?
It does depend greatly on what the dark time is but often times, here are some tips:
Presence – being available to them (discerning how much presence is tough, some people like to be left alone, some like more time )
Listening – unlike Job’s friends, we ought to listen to our friends lament and wrestle with God.
Food – If a loved one dies, food is a practical need people have; a very practical gift to let people know you are thinking of them and eases the day to day demands on their schedule if they don’t have to cook for themselves.
What if the person is struggling with consequences of sin?
Reality is, some people like living in their own garbage. They can abuse and take advantage of your grace and kindness because they don’t want to deal with their issues.
For example, someone may be going through a dark time in their marriage… You then discover they are addicted to porn. This is a time for challenge not silence because their situation is directly related to their action and is in their control; unlike other situations that are outside of one’s control. Sin is dangerous and only leads to death and destruction. When people choose to follow the path of destruction, we often feel hopeless to help. As difficult as it is watch, one ought to continue to pray and be available (within reason) and remember, Romans 8 where Paul says, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Like the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) are posture becomes one of ‘open arms’ praying, waiting, hoping the son returns. However, it does appear one has to let them go. That is difficult to do.
Thanks for all your questions. Hopefully, this blog catches you still processing what it takes for you to be a disciple of Jesus.
Here’s the recap of questions from this past Sunday:
On today’s world, is radical a good term to use to describe our journey?
Ian mentioned that people are often drawn to something Bigger and more important than themselves, a cause or a purpose. In this instance, radical is a good term to describe discipleship.
However, in today’s culture, Ian also mentioned how people misunderstand terms like Radical or Evangelical to mean, ‘people who are forcing their beliefs on others’. This has been a reality in our culture and it is important for us to clarify and be sensitive to the terms and semantics we use. Radical discipleship does not mean ‘forcing others to believe what you believe’.
Perhaps, it would be wise of us to consider our audience and platform before labelling ourselves.
“Taking up your cross”, what does that mean?
Reference: Mark 8: 34 – 38
Jesus uses, take up your cross and follow me as a metaphor for discipleship. Put simply, Jesus is calling his disciples to surrender/give their life and follow him. Ultimately, Jesus went to the cross and sacrificed himself for us. Therefore, ‘take up your cross’ is a metaphor for self-sacrifice. Do as I do… sacrifice yourself for others. Follow my example of living with the cross in mind.
When making fishers of men I’m asked what are you? Most people ask, are you Catholic, Mormon? I say, I’m Christian – part of evangelical church…. But they want more as they believe we are all Christians – what can we tell them?
Ultimately, I’m Christian and I follow Jesus. Some people may assume you are Mormon, so perhaps it would be wise to say, I follow Jesus and His teaching in the Bible (to differentiate from Mormons who have book of Mormon). But for those outside of the church (whether we like it or not) Christianity includes Catholics. So, I personally (Luke writing) don’t think it is necessary to point out the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I would tell others, I’m not Catholic but some will assume I’m the same as Catholic… and that’s okay. We ought to keep it simple, “I’m a Christian and I follow Jesus (the teaching of the Bible)” than simply let your life speak to that person. For outsiders, getting into the differences between denominations or Catholic/Protestant can at times be distracting (but beneficial to if they really want to know). But we need to keep it simple, I follow Jesus.
So is this calling to serve more of an act of obedience? Rather than volunteer sign up?
Yes. All disciples of Christ are called into discipleship. 1 Peter 2: 9 calls the people of God a royal priesthood. Therefore, we affirm the priesthood of all believers. In Ephesians, Paul calls pastors/leaders of the church, to “equip the saints for ministry”. Therefore, the church, not just pastors are called to ministry, and the pastors are called to equip the people in the church for ministry. Therefore, we all should be pursuing and doing ministry/discipleship because that’s what we are called as disciples to do. So yes, out of obedience to our call to follow Jesus we should be serving the church, using our gifts, and taking opportunities to minister to others.
How do we not get caught up in “churchianity”? I think we start focusing on church programs and church culture that we have a tendency to try to control it ourselves, instead of have God lead us.
Practical way to avoid getting to caught up in ‘churchanity’ is to ensure that you have friends/colleagues that aren’t church people. If our whole community is Christian, it is easy to slip into ‘churchanity’ because we aren’t be challenged by the worldviews of others. As Ian said last night, we have to stay tight on our mission. Everything we do needs to focus on our mission, make disciples of Christ. If we have a program that has an end goal that is not in line with our mission, than we ought to reconsider the program. So keeping focus on the purpose and mission of the church is important so that we don’t lose sight of what we are called to be.
What is the significance of church if our main mission is to simply, follow Jesus?
Following Jesus is not a solo effort. Without relationship there is no discipleship. If you had no church and you were ‘making disciples of Jesus’… I wonder if those disciples would look more like you than Jesus?? In Genesis 2, we see that God created us for community. In the Gospels we see Jesus in community with his disciples. The disciples were never alone after Jesus was taken up. The church as a community of faith is necessary to accomplish discipleship. As you read in Paul’s letters, the church (as a community of believers) was created to encourage, hold accountable, sharpen, and is called to be the ‘light to the nations’. As Ian said, without the church, discipleship will be limited. You can only grow so much without being a part of an intentional, Bible proclaiming community of believers.
Are we saved if we don’t give everything up to Jesus?
Yes. Discipleship is a process. As we grow in faith and understanding of Jesus’ call on our lives we will surrender more and more to Him. It is clear from Scripture that Jesus is calling us to ‘leave everything’ and follow him. So though it is a process, if I refuse to give up things I should, one would be missing out on a deeper more fulfilled life. Jesus calls us to follow Him alone. What is Jesus asking you to give to Him? As sinners, we should constantly remind ourselves, this life is not mine but His. Therefore, if I’m only holding myself back from what could be if I continue to follow Jesus without being willing to ‘give up’ or ‘surrender’.
Does Jesus feel the nails in His wrists and feet each time I commit a sin or has He already felt them?
Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin. He suffered and died and is now in Glory with God the father. Therefore, we believe that Jesus does not feel the nails and pain of our sin. He already has taken that pain and conquered it. We are set free because of Jesus’ work on the cross. We should have a sense of remorse and sadness, recognizing that because of my sin Jesus suffered and died. However, guilt and shame should not be a mark of a Christ follower. We are forgiven and set free. Jesus is with the Father, He conquered death. This should not be reason to keep sinning, but reason to move forward to strive to follow Him.
It’s a day that I will never forget. Along with our kids, Connie and I had travelled here to be interviewed for the role of Lead Pastor. Tim Seim, a highly respected and deeply loved pastor, had served faithfully for the previous twenty years. And so considering coming to serve in the Lethbridge church was daunting.
Irwin Olfert chaired the search team, comprised of Paul Joss, Dennis Lindskog, Joanne Penner Herron, Linda Stromsmoe, and Tory Webber. After a casual “get acquainted” breakfast, they began a three hour interview. They were serious! It was obvious by the penetrating questions they asked.
After a welcome break for lunch the board (who were observers at the morning interview) came to the table with their questions. Chairman Tedd Walcott led the charge for the board “interrogation”. During the next three hours, no stone was left unturned. It was exhausting. Connie was honored to be present, and felt respected by being asked some of the questions.
After six hours of examination, it was apparent that this church was committed to find the “right” pastor. As we reviewed our experience on the drive home, Connie and I were struck with the level of visionary leadership coming from these men and women. It was apparent that they loved their church, and they were very diligent about their task. That’s how Connie and I were introduced to our church.
I’m privileged to have worked along side five visionary chairmen, all who remain in fellowship with us: Irwin Olfert (1998-2000) helped to transition the church after 20 years of Tim’s leadership. Ed Stromsmoe (2000-2003) navigated us through the building of the new Worship Centre. Tedd Walcott (2003-09) moved us from being church led to becoming board led. Rich Thiessen (2009-12) envisioned a church of 2000 and challenged me to that end. Sid Bergsma (2012-16) provided a steady hand of leadership through the last building project.
Each of these, along with their respective boards, have served us well. These five men stand on the shoulders of those who’ve served before. They each envisioned a better future for our church. They were clear on their role, and mine. They said to me, “defining the end goal is our responsibility, and yours is to discover the means to get there.” They resisted the temptation to become bogged down in the minutia of detail, but kept their eye on the big picture. They were consistently proactive, rather than reacting to circumstances. All of us have benefited from their “let’s try it” attitude. They’ve not been risk averse and that provides us with freedom to try new things. Above all, these leaders have understood their primary role to seek the will of Christ, the Chief Shepherd, and to direct us to that outcome. As a church, we’re the benefactors of great leadership. May the tradition continue!
Ian Lawson is the Lead Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge.
Thanks for taking the time to join us at the new discipleship blog. We want this to be an opportunity for you to hear from staff, ministry leaders and pastor. We want it to be an encouragement to you as you seek to learn more about following Jesus, put that to action and become disciples that make disciples.
Please, use this blog. Share this blog. Interact with this blog and its writers.
And enjoy the first blog from our lead pastor, Ian Lawson.