Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Lined Up Out the Door

And, No, it's not for The Keg, whose sign you can see in the first picture. It's for Alpha at Coastal Church in Vancouver.

OK, so it's not exactly Alberta, but it is so encouraging to me to see such a number of people eager to participate in Alpha and hear the message of the Christian faith.I don't know the whole story, but these pictures were sent to me by Shaila, Alpha Canada's National Director, and Nicole, from Alpha Canada HQ. This looks like the kind of Alpha I would like to see everywhere. As I said, I don't know the circumstances, but it certainly speaks to me of a church with an invitational culture, and invitation is one of the Keys to the success of any Alpha.

We are starting our own Alpha this evening at Café Rista in Edmonton. I don't expect we'll have quite the lineup, but I'm praying that God will bring those He intends to hear the message. I hope to give a live introductory talk, something I've never done before, so please pray it will be effective and meaningful to those who hear it.

Oh, and if you're in the neighbourhood, come and join the lineup.

Blessings,

John

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mountains Out of Molehills

That's what God does.

Today started with a conference call and a webinar that pretty much ate up the morning.  Alpha for Youth Coach, Amy Croy has been hoping to gather area youth pastors into some kind of network to coordinate Alpha's running in local schools. Our hopes in this are twofold (at least)
One is to get Alpha's running in as many schools as we can (and it already is, in a number of them). Another is to bring some kind of coordination to the process, so that all the parties are aware of what is going on. Because here are a couple of issues:
  • One local high school had 3 Alpha's running by students of three different churches, none of them really aware of what the others were doing.
  • Some schools have had Alpha's running, but Christian kids from other churches haven't even been aware of them.
  • We are sure there are latent student leaders out there who would gladly run an Alpha in their school if they were enabled and empowered to do so.
So what we hope to accomplish by forming this network is to make the most of God's great resources in this area and to use them in the most efficient manner.

OK... So, back to today. We had hoped to make a number of appointments for the afternoon, but set out with only one. I had spoken on the phone, during the lunch hour, with Justin Morris, Youth Pastor at Sturgeon Valley Baptist in St Albert. He was unable to see us today, but informed me that his students actually had run Alpha at Paul Kane High School in that city, and he had a very good report on the Youth Film Series he himself had held at his own church with his own youth group.

I then called Jeremy Gifford at North Pointe Community (PAOC) Church in North Edmonton and arranged for us to meet at 2:00.

(As a complete aside, when I was in the business world, I made it a point never to call a customer during lunch, because it was bad manners to assume that he would be available at that time. Both these successful calls were made during lunch hour, so I may need to re-educate myself in that regard.)

So anyway, we started off with one appointment, and a very good one it was. Pastor Jeremy at North Pointe was very enthused about what we were doing and wants to be, "in the loop." He asked who else was in, so I mentioned Justin at Sturgeon Valley.
"How about the guy at St Albert Alliance?" he asked as we were leaving.

Leaving North Pointe, then, Amy called St Albert Alliance to try to make an appointment there. I was already heading in that direction, assuming success. The youth pastor there, however, was not going to be in until 4:30, but I said, "Well, we're on the way, so I think I'll just drop in to the St Albert Catholic Parish and drop them off one of our new, 'Alpha for Catholics' brochures."

Which sparked something in Amy's mind, "Hey, I know 'Doug' at St Albert Catholic High School. Maybe we can drop some info there."

"Sure," I said, confident in my mind that I knew exactly where St Albert Catholic High School was (I lived in St Albert for over 20 years). I drove up to the front door of the school and waited while Amy went inside. After a few minutes, she came back out and hopped back into the car.

"They don't know Doug, but I did meet the religion teacher and they were very excited about the material I left them." Then, "O, that isn't even St Albert High!"

Sure enough, above the door was the sign, "V.J. Maloney Catholic Junior High School".

Oops! I was embarrassed because I always thought that was where St Albert High was.

In any case, around the corner we drove, to the St Albert Catholic Parish office, where I dropped off a copy of the Alpha for Catholics brochure. The receptionist said she would put it on the desk of the Pastoral Associate. "Do you where St Albert Catholic High School is?" I asked her. "Yes, it's right next door to VJ Maloney," she said.

So, back around the corner. Amy went in to find her friend. He wasn`t there either, but she did meet the religion teacher, who again, was enthused with the Alpha material. She did tell her, though, that we should go back around the corner and meet Louis Kloster. Learning Consultant, Religious Education at the Catholic Board of Education office.

So we did. And a very good meeting it was. Mr Kloster very graciously received us, even though this was a completely cold call. But he was very glad to hear about Alpha. He had heard of it by reputation, but was pleased that Alpha offers all the materials needed to run it at no charge, and in addition to the online resources, Amy or I would make ourselves available for training or assistance, also at no charge.

So both Amy and I agreed that it had been a vey good day.

But it wasn`t finished yet. The phone rang, back at home at suppertime. It was Mark Guevarra, Pastoral Associate at St Albert Parish. "Someone left some Alpha material on my desk today and I`m very excited to hear more about it. I`d really like to see Alpha run in this parish." Wow!

So that's it, so far. (It's only 8:30) I'm looking forward to getting together with Mark and discussing Alpha further - even offering myself for training if it comes to that. And I'm looking forward to the very good possibility of seeing Alpha run in Catholic High- and Junior High Schools in St Albert, Alberta.

And that is how God took what started off as a molehill day and pretty much made at least a potential mountain out of it.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 9 January 2015

Separated at Birth?

It's the dog days of January. I wrapped up my final road trip, visiting many of the 325 churches who ran Alpha's the previous year, just before Christmas, so now, after a deep breath, the feeling is, "OK, what now?"

My first meeting of the year was with Amy Croy, enthusiastic coach for Alpha for Youth, and creator of  this facebook page. Our plan is to gather local Edmonton and area Youth leaders into some kind of network to coordinate and facilitate running Alpha in local High Schools.

However, on a more frivolous note, I was watching curling and thought I saw someone I knew. Check these out:

Manitoba Curler Mike McEwen
Alpha Canada BC Regional Director Stephen Mulder
 
 
 

Just sayin'

Blessings,

John