Tuesday, 30 May 2017

New Alpha Youth Series -

Coming this fall.


Thousands of high- and junior high school aged kids have come to faith through Alpha's Youth Film Series since it was released in 2013. Originally made in and for Canada, it has exploded around the world in a number of languages.

I asked Jason and Ben why they thought they needed a new one, and they said that anything 4 years old is just extremely dated for that generation. Hence this new iteration.

There are three or four short videos, so watch them all.

And here's the latest trailer/teaser:


Blessings and enjoy

John

Monday, 29 May 2017

Culture of Evangelism

"Culture eats strategies for breakfast."

This was one of the buzzphrases that stuck out for me at the CBWC Assembly this past week.

In other words, a church may know they need to do outreach and evangelism, but all the programs and strategies will be for nought unless there is a real culture for evangelism ingrained in their church and among its people. What must really be on the hearts of any congregation is not just a plan to run or engage in a program, but a commitment to reach the lost. Our hearts should be breaking for those who do not yet know Christ; who, because they ignored or rejected God in this life will spend eternity apart from Him in the next.

Systems and processes are not enough. Nor, even, is culture without them. It takes both, but culture must come first.

The question arises, "Why do certain churches stop running Alpha?" It always amazes me when I am speaking to a church leader somewhere in Alberta, and I'm told, "Yes, we ran Alpha a number of years back, and it worked well. We had people come to faith." My obvious question would be, "Well, why aren't you still running it?,"  even though I don't necessarily phrase it that overtly. The usual answer is that it just kind of petered out, or leaders got tired, or people stopped volunteering.

The plain and painful fact is often that churches often stop running Alpha because they don't have a culture of evangelism. I don't know if I have shared this story before, but I was speaking to  a contact at a fairly large and influential church here in Alberta. He had just come to this church from another where Alpha was run (and still is) successfully. This new church has run Alpha in the past, but my contact told me they are now running another program that mainly ministers to their current congregational members, because they couldn't get enough interest in Alpha.

I mentioned this to another church leader in a nearby city and what he said really impacted me. He said, "Yes, (that church) tends to grow when other churches close."

Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost - not the already found. That should be the burden on our hearts as well. Nicky Gumbel himself has said that our devotion is not necessarily to Alpha as a program. If something else came along that did a better job of reaching the world for Christ, we would drop Alpha on a heartbeat.

So far, nothing has.

Blessings,

John

Thursday, 25 May 2017

CBWC Assembly, Calgary

Westview Baptist
I'm in Calgary this week. Drove down Tuesday morning and made a few calls and appointments, both here and on the way down. (Living Stones, Crossroads, Red Deer)

Very encouraging, what's happening in our Alpha churches. I'm hearing nothing but good stories and plans for the future. The only negative I ever hear is the one common to many churches; that is encouraging/motivating/emboldening people in the congregations to invite.

But Alpha is still effective in introducing people to Jesus, and God is using it to bring many people into His Kingdom.

I'm here to represent Alpha at the CBWC (Canadian Baptists of Western Canada) Assembly, being held here at Westview Baptist in Calgary. This being Thursday, and just coming up to 11:00 AM, things have not officially started yet. I have just finished setting up our display, and already met one of my Alpha pastors, just walking through the door; Jeff Gullacher of Trinity Baptist, Sherwood Park.

Shaila Visser, Alpha Canada's National Director is also coming, and if I'm not mistaken, will have a bit of stage time. Shaila is a very effective speaker, a great champion for Alpha and a passionate supporter and encourager of local churches. After all, that is the whole purpose of Alpha - not to be in competition with local churches, but to give them the training and the tools to reach their communities for Christ.

I'm here until Saturday night (sorry if that sounds a bit like Henny Youngman) I'll let you know how it goes.

Blessings,

John

Update: Shaila gets a bit more than just "a bit" of stage time. Check the schedule at 6:45 Friday.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

More From LC17

5562 (Capacity crowd) at Royal Albert Hall

Here are some of them

Self Explanatory I'm Sure

This is church at HTB (Holy Trinity Brompton, Anglican, if you were wondering) Not your traditional Anglican service.

Nicky and Pippa Gumbel
Until next time,

Blessings,

John

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#LC17

LC17 is where we are right now; - Alpha Leadership Conference at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, UK, the birthplace of Alpha. There is lots going on, some of which I hope to share, but for now, I'll just mention a seminar I attended by Fr. James Mallon, Parish priest at St Benedict's Catholic Parish in Halifax. Also there and presenting was Christian songwriter Matt Maher. The topic was:


I'd like to quote just a few nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from his talk,

    • Don't use people to build your ministry; use your ministry to build up people.
    • Alpha as a program is great; Alpha as a culture is phenomenal.
    • Our churches should have a sign on their doors, "Enter at your own risk!" We should expect people to encounter Christ when they come through our doors.
    • A parishioner complained to Fr. Mallon: "Alpha, Alpha, Alpha - all you ever talk about is Alpha!" To which Fr James replied, "Well, when people start coming to Christ through your ministry I'll start talking about that."

Blessings,

John