At First Alliance Church, we’re serious about being a positive impact in the community and meeting people where they are with acts of kindness and support. In today’s world we can’t have a “build it and they will come“ approach to church. As the leader of community outreach at FAC, my main focus is to bring church outside of our walls and into the neighbourhood and to the city of Calgary as a whole. The big question is … how do we do that?? The first way is by partnering with key organizations already actively serving the community. This is crucial for us to make a difference together in our city. We don’t want to invent programs that would run alongside very productive organizations already doing the same thing. To this end, we strategically look at key partners that align not only with our strategies, but our values as a church as well.
Current Community Impact Partners with FAC:
- Teen Challenge Alberta (addiction)
- The Mustard Seed (homelessness and poverty)
- Calgary Pregnancy Care Center (unplanned pregnancies)
- Hope Mission (feeding children and offering school support programs)
- International Justice Mission (human trafficking abroad)
- CHILL (human trafficking locally)
- Calgary Dream Centre (addiction and reintegrating men and women back into society)
- Sonshine Community Services (shelter for women and children facing abuse)
- Next Step Ministries (local social justice)
- Calgary Food Bank (providing food to our city in need)
- Samaritan’s Purse (disaster relief)
This is a good cross-section of partners bringing relief and hope to our city on a regular basis in Jesus’ name. We provide support for these organizations by providing space for meetings and fundraisers, and giving much-needed exposure to the public. This list has been carefully measured to our values and needs and we try not to double up too much on the focus of the organization.
- Oil Change Days: Twice a year we service around 70 cars with oil changes and other services. This is mainly offered to single moms, those that are out of work, and generally people in great need. Almost 100 volunteers service the cars and feed the people while they wait for the vehicles to be finished.
- Backpacks for Kids: Each year, just before school begins, we fill and distribute backpacks for elementary and junior high kids in need. We send these to numerous schools in the city along with a few key organizations.
- Operation Christmas Child: We collect over 3000 gift-filled shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child program each year.
- Seasonal Drives: We do numerous church-wide campaigns throughout the year to support the food bank as well as collecting clothing for schools, Christmas gift drives, underwear drives for local shelters, etc.
- Ministry Fairs: These aim to raise awareness after weekend services about Community Impact programs through FAC and local partnering organizations.
- Baby Bottle Drive: This drive raises money and awareness for the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day each year.
Another important way we serve the community is through opportunities to partner with several Calgary schools. We strategically align with schools in the areas most in need such as Forest Lawn, Ogden, and Bowness, offering support by sponsoring kids for Camp Chamisall (our denomination’s local summer camp), running breakfast programs, painting and fixing classrooms, and running Christmas and clothing drives to help meet practical needs. We’re proud to support these schools and have some input into young lives.
We have such a generous and caring community here at FAC! It makes it much easier to have a positive impact in our city … But the need will always be greater than the supply and we have to continue to rely on God’s direction and leading for what we focus on and how much we get involved with. It’s always difficult to say no to an idea or organization but we need to go where the greatest needs are. We need to fill the gap! The age-old measurement question is “If your church went away tomorrow, would the city miss you?” I can honestly say, at this point, it would – and that’s the right answer. But we’re still on this journey of being effective outside our walls and we have a ways to go.
So what can we do? How do we plug in and get involved? The partners listed above are always in need of volunteers and financial help, whichever makes sense for you. Our internal ministries are always looking for people to add to the mix.
What about our own neighbourhoods and communities?
Each of us can easily build relationships in our neighbourhoods by hosting barbecues or block parties. What about just shoveling snow for someone next door who has physical limitations? Sometimes just simply praying for your neighbors or getting involved in a prayer walk would make a huge difference in how we view our communities. What it comes down to is building relationships and trust. We’re all built and designed to be a part of a community and we need to be intentional in accomplishing that goal.
Written by Al Hall, Pastor of Community Impact