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Church Multiplication

FAC is Going Multi-Site in Fall 2019

First Alliance Church has a wonderful heritage of both growth and multiplication. Since our start in 1938 we’ve seen numerous churches started, out of our heart to see God’s Kingdom reach deeply into the communities of Calgary and beyond. There are a dozen churches in the Calgary area that trace their heritage back to FAC. Most recently we were thrilled to be able to see The Exchange Church planted out of our congregation – it’s been so exciting to see how God is working in and through this wonderful new church!

As we’ve prayerfully reflected on where God is at work in our midst, it’s become increasingly clear that in addition to church planting, He’s calling us into a new way of extending our reach. For some time, the leadership of FAC has been prayerfully seeking God for how He wants us to continue to take the Gospel into our city as we seek to “Build Lives that Honour God” with greater effectiveness and on an increasing scale.

As we’ve waited on Him for His direction, catalytic conversations have taken place and wonderful opportunities have opened up that have led us to believe God is directing us into a new adventure.

In discussions with District and church leaders of our denomination (the Christian & Missionary Alliance), there’s been a growing sense of the strategic importance of ensuring we have a healthy, vibrant church in the growing SW quadrant of Calgary. Our hearts shared that passion, so when the opportunity came available for us to have access to our school, Glenmore Christian Academy (GCA), we saw this as a further affirmation that God was calling us into something new, both for us as a church and for that area of the city.

The decision to expand the ministry of FAC through multiple campuses is a new and exciting opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get close to a massive number of people in the growing SW quadrant of our city. It’s an opportunity to take all that God is doing in and through FAC and multiply it in an additional location. It’s an opportunity for us to extend our reach and impact by taking what we do at one location and doing it at multiple locations. Imagine the lives that will be transformed, the families that will be strengthened and encouraged, the increased opportunity to do good as relationships are built and needs are met … all for Jesus!

Why Multiply?

Pastor Jeff MarshallThese opportunities, as exciting as they are, do beg a few questions for those who have not been part of the planning process … One question that comes to mind is, “Why even bother to start another campus? Isn’t there still room in our current facility?” The easy answer is “yes”, there is still room at our current location, and it’s important to note that another campus is not meant to be a result of “overflow.” The reason to go multi-campus is bigger than just that of enough space. The purpose in becoming a multi-campus church is to effectively make more disciples of Jesus Christ. This can be accomplished by bringing the church closer to where people are. Our motivation is to continue doing a great job of loving people, including different types of people, by getting closer to where they are instead of expecting they will come to us. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus tells His disciples:

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into the fields.”

We’re called to reach out to those around us and share the Good News of Jesus. There are many people in these current communities and those being built who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. By moving into the area we have an opportunity to reach out, love, and share with these people, inviting them to join us as a faith community.

A study by the Barna Group found that people are willing to drive a greater distance to church once a week but find it difficult to do multiple trips in a week. This makes it harder to stay involved and connected. Therefore, people who drive a distance to church are less likely to be heavily involved and most likely won’t invite their friends. On the other hand, when a church is in their community it’s easier to invite others and even attend together. A new campus also helps move people from just participants to contributors and leaders. The more people become involved, the greater their connection – and a new campus in their own neighbourhood increases the opportunity for them to become involved.  There are instantly more opportunities to serve in the area they’re gifted and passionate about. There are also more opportunities to move up into a leadership position, which is sometimes hard to do in an established church body.  A recent study found that in 90% of the multi-campus churches they surveyed volunteerism had increased.[i] Research also shows that “new Canadian church works (including church plants, revitalizations, mergers, and new sites) that pray, equip leaders (volunteer and staff), and share Jesus have more commitments to Christ and are more likely to be majority unchurched congregations that are financially self-sufficient.”[ii] Most fruit grows on the newest branches!!

Why Glenmore Christian Academy?

The SW is a very large quadrant of the city … Why choose GCA in Bridlewood? For our purposes we’ve narrowed our area of focus, at this time, to south of Fish Creek and west of Macleod Trail (see labelled communities in Ward 13 map below). The area is home to six existing communities with a total population of 67,893 people. It’s important to note that four new communities are in development south of this area as well. These new communities include Yorkville, Belmont, Pine Creek, and one as yet unnamed community – all south of Silverado. There is also a new community just west of Bridlewood and Evergreen called Providence. These new communities are estimated to have a combined population of 67,725 people, bringing the total population of this SW area to over 135,000 people.[iii]

First Alliance Church Ward 13

With so many people, it’s interesting to note that there are very few like-minded churches in the area. The majority of these churches are located close to Macleod Trail, away from the heart of these communities. GCA, located in Bridlewood, makes an excellent location for FAC’s second campus. GCA backs onto Bridlewood Towne Centre where people currently go for shopping and services, so the location is known and convenient for many. The school itself has a 535-seat theatre and plenty of classrooms to house DiscoveryLand for children and social spaces for people to meet together. There are no other community connection facilities close by. Once the ring road is complete, there will be easy access off Stoney Trail onto 162 Avenue for those driving to the campus.

There are still many questions to be answered over this next year as we move towards a Fall 2019 launch of this campus. There are many reasons to embark on this journey to create new campuses but perhaps it’s best to end with the most important reason: Jesus has laid it upon our hearts. This has not happened because anyone has willed it but because Jesus has given our church a vision for it. It’s a piece of Pastor James’ M&M Goals of Multiplication and his God-given dreams to see:

  • A church that meets people where they are, and equips them to become what they were created to be.
  • A church where the people are intentionally reaching back, encouraging those who are steps behind them in their journey.
  • A church that dares to dream!

We look forward to dreaming together and to see God’s Kingdom expand in the city of Calgary!

-Written by Jeff Marshall (SW Campus Pastor) & Les Bon-Bernard (Senior Associate Pastor)

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[i] “More Than Multisite” Barna Group
[ii] “The State of Church Planting in Canada” Stetzer & Im
[iii] City of Calgary Census 2018 and City of Calgary Area Structure Plan