Wednesday, 9 May 2018

At Least I Have a Business Card

My new business card

Well, it's a start. And it fulfils in me a sense of belonging. We don't have a fully formed organization yet, but I have a card. And they say a card is as good as a raise. And a raise would be nice. In fact I've asked my boss, who is me, to double my salary. Considering I haven't yet begun to draw one, it was an easy request to grant. In fact, he (I) offered to triple it. What a generous boss! Second best boss I've ever had.

Forgive, if you noticed it, the pretentiousness of the address - "Suite 35." Considering the fact that it is a condo unit, and it is unit # 35, it is only a slight enhancement, but it does add a bit of prestige, n'est pas?

So now it's time to hit the ground running. I've already had a number of encouraging conversations with local churches who are, or have run, Christianity Explored (CE) programs. Time now to broaden the field to introduce CE to other churches with a passion to introduce their communities to Jesus. And when we have a travel budget (when we can start receiving donations) I'll again be hitting the highways, byways and back roads of this Province that I love.

I posted below that it has been a while. Well now it's back to what it was seven years ago with Alpha - same challenge, same excitement, same optimism for the future.

Check out my motto verse above, Acts 20:24.

It still is.

Blessings,

John

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

A New Chapter Begins


Yes, it has been another while.

I was looking at a fundraising proposal I made a year or so after I joined Alpha in a part-time role in 2011. I stated, in a tone of writing that sounds to me now rather boastful, that my target was to have 100 Alphas run in Alberta in 2012, and that I actually exceeded that target by 10. We had 110 Alphas in the Province in 2012.

I chuckled at my innocence, even naivety, of those early days. In 2017 we had just shy of 700 Alphas in the Province. Already, in the first four months of 2018, there have been over 350 registered, including an encouraging number in the Province's schools.

Having said that, my time with Alpha Canada has come to an end. Alpha Canada has decided to terminate the Alberta Regional Director position as of April 30, 2018, in favour of a Canada West Director to cover both Alberta and British Columbia. (With the current pipeline dispute, as of the date of this post, I hope my replacement will be permitted to cross the border freely.)

Because I truly believe the Lord is not through with me yet, I have come on board with another very effective evangelistic ministry, Christianity Explored (CE). CE is not that different from Alpha, in that it uses a similar format - invitation, food, talk, discussion - where guests are welcomed unconditionally and encouraged to ask any question or offer any opinion without condemnation. Guests are invited to join in a 7-week journey through the Gospel of Mark, including a day away.

I would never discourage any church from running Alpha, or anyone from attending one: I've seen so many lives changed through that wonderful ministry. Although some may actually prefer CE to Alpha for various reasons, and vice versa, I see (and frankly I believe this is from God) CE as the perfect follow-up to Alpha. One of the most common questions churches asked me during my time with Alpha is, "What do we do after Alpha?" Well, in CE I believe we have an answer. Christianity Explored is a perfect course, not only for leading people into a relationship with Jesus Christ on its own, but for securing and deepening the faith of someone whom God has brought to that new relationship through, for instance, Alpha.

CE has four excellent video resources: Christianity Explored, Life Explored, Discipleship Explored and Soul, for mid-teens to young adults. All are excellently produced and contemporary in flavour and quality. I encourage you to check it out. The website is christianityexplored.ca. I'd love to hear from anyone who wants to hear more.

I have loved my time with Alpha. I always tell people that I've been blessed in that for my entire working life, nearly 50 years now, I've enjoyed what I've been doing. But my time with Alpha have been, in the words of the Bryan Adams song, the best years of my life.

Now it's on to the rest of my life.

Blessings,
John Kivell,
Canadian Regional Director,
CE Ministries Canada


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Been a While


Yes, it has been a while since my last post. Alpha called me in mid-November and informed me that I had 29 days of holidays I hadn't taken over the time I've been with them, so I decided to actually take them between then and the end of the year.

I have not been, "unbusy" though. I have continued to both make and answer phone calls and emails. One thing I did was speak at my church, Christ the King Edmonton, the picture from whose website I posted above. It was officially about the work of the Holy Spirit among the unsaved, but of course, I hope I was able to work in a bit of a commercial for Alpha. If you would like to hear it, or hear what my voice sounds like, you can find it here. 

Another small accomplishment is this: there is a club in Edmonton, the Urban Tavern, where I do stand-up comedy some Sunday nights. I asked the manager what were his least-busy weekday evenings. The upshot of all this is that I have arranged to run an Alpha at the club on Wednesday nights, beginning Jan 10. I'll be inviting anyone who wants to come, including, I hope, a number of the comics. Please pray for its success, and even pass the word to any who might be even close to the neighbourhood.

Being on holidays and all, I'm not sure if I'll post again before Christmas, so if not, may I wish each of you a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and the happiest of New Years.

Blessings,

John


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Wonderful People


Anglican Diocese of Athabasca Synod - Peace River Alberta 

Friday Oct 13 I drove 5 hours to Peace River to make a presentation at the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca. Bishop Fraser Lawton would love to see as many of his parishes as possible running Alphas. Many of the delegates are actually familiar with Alpha, although, having run it often in the moderately distant past, may not be so familiar with all of our new materials.

So Friday evening's dinner was turned into a model Alpha supper, including jokes and the showing of the invitational first video of the relatively recent Alpha Film Series. This version is hosted by Toby and Gemma, a hip young pair of presenters, and targeted at the Millennial generation, the 18 - 35-year-olds. I always say that baby boomers like it too because they too like to pretend they can still be young and hip.

Between Friday evening and Saturday morning I met many great people and found quite a bit of enthusiasm for Alpha. If all comes together, we may plan a coaching and training day for Alpha somewhere at a reasonably convenient location within the Diocese. When I say reasonably convenient, it's all relative. The Diocese stretches from Fort McMurray in the northeast down around Lesser Slave Lake, and back up to Peace River and Beaverlodge (a half-hour west of Grande Prairie). Driving time from one end of the Diocese, according to Google Maps is about 8 1/2 hours, so, as I say, convenience is relative.

I drove back home Saturday afternoon, in preparation to catch a plane to Alpha's staff retreat at Loon Lake outside of Vancouver in British Columbia.

I'll post a bit on that as well, but all in all, a fairly busy couple of days.

Blessings,

John

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

One Body, Miles Apart

 
I have a super busy day today, so I'll make this a very brief post.
 
Each morning, as I have mentioned before, I open up the report of all Alphas running in Alberta this year (2017). The number keep climbing, so I hesitate to give it as a final total, but as of today it takes up 543 lines in my spreadsheet.
 
Two of the newly registered Alphas this morning are from completely opposite ends of the Province - one in High Level and one in Medicine Hat. Google Maps shows these to be a twelve and a half hour drive apart.
 
Same Province, same faith, same God, same Lord Jesus Christ, same Spirit. Just sayin'
 
Blessings,
 
John

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Billy Graham Evangelism Congress

No Sooner did I return from my Calgary junket (Sunday afternoon) than Eva and I started a three-day Evangelism Congress beginning Sunday evening at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall. One of the featured speakers noted the irony of hosting an event aimed at bringing a Christian revival to our nation in a facility named, "Fantasyland." We who were there, and who have on our hearts the evangelization of our nation, would not consider our aims any kind of fantasy.

The event was completely inspiring, with speakers such as Mark Hughes, Danielle Strickland, Charles Price and Edmonton's own Bob Jones, Senior Pastor at North Pointe Church. The worship band was also from North Pointe and the quality and duration of music was just about exactly perfect. I say duration because I find a 15 to 20 minute worship set to be just about right.

I met many people there who I have previously met in my travels around the province, some of whom recognized me before I recognized them. I also met many people who I hadn't met yet, but whose churches have run Alpha throughout Alberta. I have found that in any such large church gathering, a surprising number of the people I meet, or someone they know, came to faith through Alpha.

I was pleasantly amazed at how much the Billy Graham organization seemed to like Alpha. There were quite a few recommendations of Alpha as an evangelizing tool, even though Alpha wasn't officially involved in the congress. I was so pleased to see in what high regard Alpha is held both by the organization and many of the individual speakers there. Alpha works so well because  it takes into account the very fear and reluctance to evangelize that many of us seem to have. All one has to do is invite someone to, "dinner and a movie," so to speak, to learn a bit about the basics of the Christian faith and discuss some of life's big questions in a relaxed, open and non-threatening environment.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 22 September 2017

Calgary in September (or Vice Versa)

James Clarence (left) and Brent Sellers at RockPointe
I'm writing this on Friday morning, but I've been in Calgary since Tuesday. Driving down early Tuesday morning I encountered the first snow of the season, big wet flakes just south of Leduc. By Red Deer though it was bright, sunny and dry. I made a side stop in Red Deer at the headquarters of Impacting Canada Ministries, at least a couple of whose churches have or are running Alpha.

The event Tuesday evening was to gather Youth Pastors at the Bowridge Campus of RockPointe Church to envision and celebrate empowering teens to reach their friends through Alpha in their schools. It was also a chance to build anticipation for the forthcoming new Alpha Youth series coming out Oct 1. It was extremely encouraging to hear the stories of what's happening in some Alberta schools, including one of one young man who started Alpha in his school by himself and ended up with 70 kids attending!

Wednesday was busy with other encouraging visits to Harvest Hills Alliance, Calgary Life Church, Bonavista Baptist and Southview Church. An interesting thing happened at Harvest Hills. My appointment was with Associate Pastor Aaron Bon-Bernard. He brought along Jordie Siemens, the son of the Senior Pastor. Jordie is helping coordinate their upcoming fall Alpha. In conversation with Jordie mentioned he was working on his M Div at Ambrose University. I asked him what he hoped to do after graduation. He said he hoped to minister in a Arabic-speaking country. He and his wife had spent some time in the Middle East and he wants to use his growing fluency in Arabic in his ministry. H mentioned he had just attended an Arabic language service at Foothills Alliance. I said, "Hey, there is a guy up in Edmonton running Alpha in Arabic up there."

"I'd love to get in touch with him," said Jordie.

So I emailed my contact in Edmonton. He cc'd me back along with the fellow who is now coordinating said course, Brahm from the amazing Salaam Ministries. Brahm emailed back saying he was going to be in Calgary Friday, so I'm hoping to set up a meeting of all the interested parties today. Hasn't quite come together yet, but I'm praying.

Yesterday, Thursday, I was back at RockPointe for a day-long conference on church planting presented by c2c Network featuring speaker Hugh Halter. Made some great connections and met some great people whose hearts are fixed on reaching the Province and the Nation with the truth. In my opinion, and that of many others, there is no better tool to initiate a church plant than Alpha. In the words of Graham Singh, "Church planting strategy? Find an empty space and start running Alpha."

Today I hope to be in touch with more of my Alpha churches, including the Catholic Parish of St Pius X, which is actually a few blocks from my motel, so I think I'll get my morning exercise and walk.

Tomorrow, Saturday, will be a relatively free day, until I attend the evening service at Foothills Alliance, where Shaila Visser, Alpha Canada's National Director is speaking.

All for now,

Blessings,

John

By the way, a while ago I posted that there had been 400 Alphas registered for Alberta. That number is now 500.