Friday, April 03, 2009

Beginnings

Eight years ago (or thereabouts), I went with a group from our church to hear about this new Alpha Program - supposedly all the rage among evangelism circles. I knew a little about it going in, but hadn't yet heard the details. The Covenant Church had endorsed Alpha, and was encouraging local churches to use Alpha in their efforts to reach the world outside their walls, so I was interested to hear more.

And I was hooked. And have remained hooked ever since. Friends of mine have run Alpha in their churches, and the stories coming out have been powerful. I've driven through towns and seen signs for Alpha, I've sat in gatherings and listened to others talk about the impact of Alpha in their communities. And through all that. . .I've never been a part of a church that's used Alpha. We tried a couple times while in Turlock; at least, we attempted to plant seeds in people's hearts that we hoped would cause some of them to jump on board and make it go. . .but nobody ever seemed all that interested.

When I was called to Lakebay, one of the challenges given me was "help us evangelize this Peninsula!" The nature of the Key Peninsula makes evangelism a little dicey. Most homes sit back from the road down long, dirt driveways, hidden deep in the woods. More than a few have homeowners who would as soon shoot at you as welcome you in for lemonade and cookies. We have our share of 'cash crop' farmers out here (think marijuana and meth. . .) who don't take kindly to strangers showing up at the door. Plus, it's the Northwest, it's the Puget Sound area, it very much fits the post-Christian, embrace-everything-and-don't-judge-others mentality. People either don't care about God, or they're liable to get offended at you when you start talking about Jesus. There's a strong anti-establishment, anti-institution strain up in this corner of the country, so God-talk can be tricky.

iow, it's the perfect place for Alpha, a program specifically designed to work in post-Christian, independent-minded cultures.

Over the last year or so I've been talking about Alpha with our Missions Chair and a couple others; a few months ago I took a group over to the Introduction Dinner for River Ridge Covenant's Alpha Course. I convinced the board to include the $500 in this year's budget to purchase the Beginner's Box. . .and last night we finally pulled some people together, people who will form the nucleus of Lakebay's Alpha Leadership Team. The plan is to host our first run-through this fall, probably starting in late September.

And, based on the energy in the room last night, I'm excited. Last month marked our three-year-anniversary at Lakebay, so in every sense we've moved past the 'Honeymoon,' we've left behind all that 'laying the groundwork' stuff, and are moving into the next phase of ministry. I believe Alpha could be the catalyst for great things to come in the days ahead. And, after almost a decade of waiting, I'm more than ready to stop thinking about Alpha, and begin actually doing it.

I know where we are now. I know where we need to be to enter into the future we believe God has laid out for us. Bridging those two things is the question. And I have this little suspicion that Alpha at Lakebay may just be one of the pillars in that bridge.

We have a long way to go, still, but last night marked a true, new, beginning for this aspect of God's work on the Key Peninsula. For that, I am thankful.

1 comment:

Brad Boydston said...

We finally got to put all that California Alpha training to use on Guam. Enjoy! It's fun to see how God works things out - and surprisingly how he works through this format. Who would think that having a meal, watching a guy talk on video for 45 minutes, and then having a group discussion would actually be appealing to people?