Thursday, 13 July 2017

Nothing to Report

Except I'm back from southern Alberta and I didn't have to sleep in a chuckwagon. Every meeting I listed on my previous post, below, went extremely well.

I don't know if I've ever revealed Alpha's current strategy for the province, but here we go;

In 2012 there were 61 churches running Alphas in Alberta. With the big initiative in 2013 that figure jumped to over 300, and that number has been basically maintained since. So the thinking is that most churches have either run Alpha or heard about it, so there is not that urgency to be constantly seeking out new churches. In other words, I haven't spent a lot of my time making cold calls on new churches. Instead, my focus is on developing relationships with current key churches, helping the run their own Alphas with excellence and finding out how we as a ministry can serve them better.

To that end, I feel I had some really meaningful conversations. I recently had what I consider to be a bit of a revelation. I don't know if I can explain it adequately, but essentially it is this:

We often think of evangelism in a larger scale, at least I have. We may think of evangelizing the nation, or in my case, the Province. But evangelizing starts locally. Each pastor I speak with may not be thinking of reaching the nation or the province, but reaching his own corner of the larger territory. So my conversations are about, "What's happening in your town/city/neighbourhood? Tell me about your own church, your own team, your own efforts, your own successes, your own challenges." All these things are often even before we talk about Alpha, because, truth be told, a pastor may indeed be more concerned with these than specifically about Alpha. Alpha in my opinion is the number one resource for outreach to any community, so I don't need to worry about the subject eventually coming around to it.

As much as I enjoyed each of my meetings, the highlight was perhaps my last one - with Aaron, who is n Youth Ministry at Lethbridge E-Free, one of the larger churches in that city. He ministers to about 75 or 80 kids, many of whom are from outside the church. They have used our Youth Film Series successfully in the past, and are going to run our new Youth Series in the fall. Aaron is looking forward to its release this October and  thinks it will be perfect for his charges. I mentioned to him about the opportunities to encourage his kids to run Alpha in their schools and it was a concept he hadn't previously considered, but the seed has been planted. Already, a young woman from University Drive Alliance (another church on my itinerary) is doing just that in her own school.

Well, that's it. Rather a sudden conclusion but the only other things of note were rather ho-hum, ordinary things - a severe thunder and hail storm around Okotoks, and a traffic jam on the Deerfoot Trail through Calgary.

Nothing else to report.

Blessings,

John


Monday, 10 July 2017

Almost Homeless

I have a trip scheduled this week for Calgary and Lethbridge, with a few very promising appointments lined up. I waited until this morning (Monday) to book a hotel in Calgary, not remembering that this is the week of the Calgary Stampede. I went to my usual website to find a room and the realization gradually began to dawn on me, as I scrolled down the list and saw, "no availability" opposite every hotel in the city, that I might have to ask the guy in the picture if I could sleep in his chuckwagon.

I finally found a room though, and one not even too far from my first Wednesday morning appointment.

So my schedule looks like this:
  1. Tuesday 7:30 AM - pick up rental car in St Albert
  2. Tuesday noon - lunch in Okotoks with Pastor Terry Lee of Okotoks Alliance
  3. Couple of afternoon appointments in Calgary
  4. Wednesday 9:00 AM - meet with Pastor Todd Swisher of Eastside City Church in Calgary
  5. Wednesday noon - lunch with John Albiston of Victory Church Lethbridge
  6. 1:30 - Meet with Pastor Scott Dixon of University Drive Alliance Church, Lethbridge
  7. Afternoon calls on Westside Community Church and City Lights Church, Lethbridge
  8. 3:00 or 3:30 - meet with Youth Pastor Jared Friesen at Lethbridge E-Free
  9. 4 or 4:30 - head home to St Albert
  10. 10:00 PM - arrive home.
As I've said before - I love Christ, love Alpha, love driving.

Perfect job.

Blessings,

John

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Appointment I couldn't Keep

I am hoping to make a trip to Calgary and points south (Lethbridge, etc.) next week. One of the churches I was especially anxious to meet with was one I have never visited before, Harvest Hills Alliance. I sent an email yesterday to their Associate Pastor, Aaron Bon-Benard hoping to set up an appointment.

This morning he called me, saying he was going to be on holidays next week. However, we had quite a nice conversation on the phone, during which I learned he was running two Alphas, including one that grabbed my attention, with an organization called Next Steps Ministries.

Aaron told me it is a ministry working with women exiting the sex trade, and it brought to my mind my time with Alpha in the Fort Saskatchewan jail. It is a co-ed institution with both male and female inmates, and many of the women were there because of their involvement in the sex trade. Some of my thoughts on Alpha in prison are posted here, on another blog. In short, this trade, far from being the glamorous choice that some would paint it is, for many, I would say most of those involved in it, is a vicious trap; difficult to break out of without much help.

So, what's my point? I'm not quite sure. I'm sure I will meet Pastor Aaron on another trip - perhaps in September when we have another possible Alpha event at Foothills Alliance in Calgary. But his mention of Next Steps Ministries, and his running Alpha with them, brought back these memories, and I felt compelled to sit down and pour them out on my keyboard. I intend to be praying for this ministry, and I invite you to as well. I also pray that God will remind me daily of this intention.

Blessings,

John