60 Lethbridge church-goers become Briercrest students for a weekend

Posted: January 28, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Wes Olmstead teaches on the Sermon on the Mount in Lethbridge.
Just under sixty parishioners from the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge became Briercrest students for eight hours last weekend.

Wes Olmstead, Cal Macfarlane, and David Guretzki spent January 22 and 23 teaching at the church’s third annual School of Discipleship, held in the church building in Lethbridge.

Olmstead taught a seminar on the Sermon on the Mount, MacFarlane taught about spiritual formation, and Guretzki taught a biblical perspective on chronic illness within marriage.

Ian Lawson, the church’s lead pastor, a former Briercrest employee, and a current member of Briercrest’s board of directors, has heard about the quality of Olmstead’s teaching over the years. This year, he decided to try it for himself, and Olmstead delivered. “I’ve read the Sermon on the Mount 100 times,” Lawson said, “and I saw things I’d never seen before.”

Cal MacFarlane forms a clay pot as he teaches about spiritual formation.
Pam Champion attended MacFarlane’s class on spiritual formation. She particularly enjoyed the pottery demonstration he did Friday night, she says. MacFarlane, who is a potter as well as a professor, got his hands dirty that night by throwing a pot as he compared our relationship to God to the relationship between clay and its potter.

Conrad Broersma (College '07), who pastors a small church in a nearby town, attended Guretzki’s course on chronic illness in marriage. As one of Guretzki’s former students and as the father of an 18-month-old girl who suffers from a genetic mutation that causes frequent, serious seizures, Broersma appreciated that Guretzki spoke from experience as he suggested biblical means of coping with illness and stressed that illness “isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.” Guretzki’s wife suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.

David Guretzki teaches about coping with chronic illness in marriage.
The School of Discipleship is part of the church’s adult education strategy, says Dave Acree, the church’s associate pastor of adult education, who coordinates the event each year. For Acree, biblical education is an important part of disciple-making, which is key to the church’s mission. The church holds its own smaller education events throughout the year, but he feels that bringing in professors from Briercrest brings the education “to the next level.”

The church works with Briercrest in part because of its significant connections there—the majority of its staff are Briercrest alumni or former Briercrest employees.

Like Acree, Pastor Lawson believes that formal biblical education is important for those who can’t attend Christian college full time. Discipleship “begins with the mind,” he says.

Acree says the church plans to evaluate the benefit of the School of Discipleship and would like to continue it next year.