September 25, 2020 | by Jeff Klein
Have you ever been to a used car lot?
You know: the one where you pull in and as you get out of your car, the salespeople have surrounded you wondering if they can help? These men and women have an agenda: they are hungry for a sale to make their commission. No matter how much they try to hide it or act natural and friendly, like they are genuinely interested in you, they cannot hide their real motivation.
It usually makes you want to run!
When it comes to the “E-Word” — Evangelism — Christians and non-Christians share a common emotion — we don’t like it. Christians don’t want to be seen like the hungry car salesperson with an agenda. And non-Christians want to run every time they feel like they are about to get a sales pitch about Jesus.
Does sharing our faith have to be this way?
When I look at Jesus and the early church, I see a very different approach. Jesus came alongside his disciples to create a relational foundation for discovering the truth of the Kingdom. The earliest missionaries held conversations as they went from city to city, reasoning with people and welcoming their questions.
These practices of coming alongside and inviting spiritual exploration are the building blocks of Alpha. Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. Each session includes a talk from pastor Nicky Gumbel – the lawyer-turned-pastor from England who created Alpha – that engages a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation.
On Sunday nights in the Garden Room at ECRC, eight leaders and fourteen participants from all walks of life gather for Alpha. After opening with some lighter conversation, we watch the Alpha video and then divide into three groups and talk about our spiritual discoveries.
Some of the questions we have already explored include: “Is there more to life than this?” and “Who is Jesus?” This week we will discuss: “Why did Jesus have to die?”
Those of us on the Alpha team have made several commitments. First, creating a safe place where people can explore their spiritual questions. Second, walking alongside people while we allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in people’s hearts. Third, asking questions and being curious about the stories and the beliefs of the people God has placed in our groups.
And we’re having a blast! Hanging out discussing our faith questions and getting to know one another’s stories along the way.
When I visited the workplace of one of the participants, his employee asked me what I had done to him on Sunday night. He told me he was like a whole new person on Monday morning. I told the employee, “We just gave him a little Jesus.”
If you know someone who needs a place to explore their spiritual questions or needs an introduction to the Christian faith, send them our way. Or maybe you need to come to a place where you can do some discovery of your own. Come join us. Sunday evenings from 5:30 to 7:00 in the Garden Room.
Pastor Jeff Klein