I got a chance to hear Todd Hunter of Alpha USA this morning at the Catalyst quarterly meeting. (Wouldja look at all those hyperlinks in one sentence!) He gave a great quickie primer on thinking missionally in our changing post-modern culture, followed, somewhat ironically, by a very modern-in-orientation saturation ad campaign leading into the push to do lots of Alpha at lots of churches across Lake County next fall.
I like the concept of Alpha, especially the focus on community, conversation, and the inclusion of teaching about and encounter with the Holy Spirit as part of the evangelism process – and it was cool to hear that just last Sunday, my mother-in-law got baptized (on Easter morning) because she’d been going through Alpha at a church near her home in Sun City, AZ.
Though this morning felt a little like a commercial (probably because it was designed to motivate all of the pastors and church staff members to get on board with the plan), I am praying for the many people around me who need to know their Savior. Alpha may be the tool that God will use to spark evangelism and community in some of the churches in our region.
I’d researched Alpha a few years ago, and even made a pitch for it when I was on staff at the church in WI. I’ve heard that it can be a good shot in the arm for churches, and can provide the additional benefit of giving a good ‘basics of Christianity’ boot camp to church members. Any of you reading this have any experience with Alpha? Positive? Negative? Neither?
Friday special: Some of my favorite blog haunts these days:
Your Writer’s Group - a thoughtful, brave blog about writing and Christianity, done by night by a thoughtful, brave acquisitions editor who is employed by WaterBrook Press during the day.
A Place For The God Hungry - Pastor Jim Martin IS a pastor – his blog oozes humility and pastoral care for his readers. He asks great spiritual formation questions, and listens well to his respondents.
Two posts that will break your heart and make you think: The People Formerly Known As Pastor and The People Formerly Known As The Congregation.
From across the pond: Living Spirituality
Print read of the week – Dr. Sarah Sumner’s Men and Women In The Church. I have avoided the topic of women’s leadership in the church like the plague, but had to do some finishing work on the Money, Sex and Power section of “The Church For Skeptics”. I’d followed along as Scot McKnight blogged about the book at jesuscreed.org – and grabbed the book off the shelf at the Trinity Bookstore (where I work part-time) last week as an afterthought. The book is a revelation to me. It helps that Dr. Sumner hung out and learned in the same Chicago suburban evangelical world in which I live. It helps that she is not angry, which sometimes characterizes the writing of others on both sides of this issue.
I have ducked thinking deeply about this issue for years. I have a great husband who is my primary pastor, no matter what church I attend, and am grateful that he listens to and learns from me, as well. But as I write – and seek to speak more and more – I am going to have to stop ducking this issue. Dr. Sumner’s book – both in tone and content -was a revelation for me —