Thursday, 27 April 2017

Alpha - a way of evangelism

A woman once approached the great evangelist D. L. Moody to air a grievance. (Moody was an international evangelist of great renown in the 19th Century.)
The woman said to him, “Mr Moody, I don’t like the way you do evangelism!”
“Well, ma’am, let me ask you, how do you do it?” Moody asked.
She replied, “I don’t!”
Moody responded, “Well, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it!”

The previous post showed a teaser film introducing the Alpha Course which has been seen by millions across the world. The course was originally designed as a sort of back to basics course for the congregation at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London to help the people there brush up on their faith. Since then, however, it has taken off as one off as a great way to introduce the Christian faith to those who are genuinely seeking.

But it has come in for criticism by some because it does not fit in with various denominations' particular doctrinal emphases or because it says too much about the Holy Spirit (how can you say too much about God?) or because it is too upper middle class, too English, too Anglican, too London-based and a whole host of other reasons. At the end of the day, however, as Moody pointed out to the woman who criticised him, at least it has introduced so many churches to the importance of actually DOING evangelism rather than just talking about it.

Of course, it is not fail-proof and it is not guaranteed to grow your church or make anyone a Christian unless, of course, they want to be one. But in my personal experience in past churches, I have never once run an Alpha Course that did not produce fruit. Someone has always either come to faith, renewed or deepened their faith after attending it. And so I can, from my own personal experience, recommend it to anyone interested in running something that will help people think about faith.

And what is particularly good about the current Alpha Course it that it has been re-done with a 21st-century audience in mind, using films, interviews and personal stories, rather than one person standing up and speaking for half an hour (40 minutes originally). And so on the next post, I will put the first film on the new course to give you an insight into what it is like.

Incidentally, a major plus for the new realisation of the Alpha Course is that it is not Minister or Vicar dependent. It can be run by a trained team of church people, who can greet, pray, welcome etc the various people who walk through the door. 

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