Well Side Community Church is betting it all on the Why Encounter, a literature-based outreach.
“We’re giving our last dollars to something we believe God is calling us to,” says Well Side pastor Charlie Koop, of the Calgary church’s investment in 35,000 books to distribute in the neighbourhood at $7 a book. “We may never see full results; it’s all for kingdom ministry.”
Started almost a decade ago in Grant and Carol Galpin’s home, as part of the Key Cities Initiative’s Mission Calgary, Well Side (then Saddle Ridge Community Church), held its opening Sunday service Oct. 14, 2001.
In 2009, the congregation of 40 continues to meet in northeast Calgary, an area characterized as one of the most multicultural parts of the city.
“When you visit our mission field, you find all the ingredients for a classic missionary story,” says member Paul Buller. “Foreign languages abound. There’s plenty of multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity. Families are struggling with lower income, addictions, and brokenness.” He continues, “These people need Jesus.”
Supported in part by the Alberta conference and Linden MB Church, the struggling church’s ambitious plan to introduce their neighbours to Christ involves distributing the Why Encounter evangelistic book, then hosting a free banquet in December.
The Why Encounter is matching Well Side’s funds for a total of 3,500 copies of Why am I on this earth? to distribute to every home in the community. The coffee-table book, which features some 20 stories of testimony from Albertans, will come in a bag marked gift, and will contain four pages about Well Side: the church’s three core values, address, and website, and an invitation to the banquet.
George Derksen of Fleet Publications, Winnipeg, first produced the glossy 12×12 book in 1986, with a vision to get it into every home in Canada. Citywide home deliveries have since occurred in several Canadian locations. Calgary is targeted for 2009 with a print run of 120,000 books for distribution in the city of 1 million.
A Well Side member who is a professional chef is coordinating the lavish banquet which will be held at a local community hall.
“We hope for some 10–15 new families as a result of the Why Encounter,” says Koop. In anticipation, he has contacted local Christian colleges to recruit young people to help with children’s ministry; he plans to coordinate weeknight courses on Jesus and faith, practical matters such as marriage and finances; and he is calling church members to be ready to offer hands-on help to the church’s neighbours.
Buller adds that the congregation is seeking other Christians to partner with Well Side. “We need people who are willing to serve and love the lonely and outcast of our area.”
In preparation for the distribution blitz, Well Side members meet twice a week for prayer.
“There is excitement; there is anticipation for what God will do,” Koop says. “We feel like Gideon [who went out with few] facing an army of thousands. Whatever comes out of this will be God working.”