Alpha course 5: Why and how should I tell others?

I’m getting a bit behind with these write-ups, which actually describe meetings a week or two apart.

The next evening’s subject was evangelism. However the feel of the video was a lot less pushy than the word “evangelism” usually implies. In contrast to the earlier alpha course videos, I didn’t feel like I was sat in church, being preached to. She did speak about her relationship with Jesus, but hesitated to call herself a Christian. This was understandable as she related the story of her childhood, marred by the authoritarian church her father founded. She was visibly nervous, but came across as funny and genuine. Her take on evangelism was simply sharing something that you thought was great and compared it to getting a stunning view of the supermoon on her way home from work. All in all it was a very low-pressure message, which, I guess makes sense when alpha is aimed at everyone including new Christians who might be put off by having to preach their new faith.

In the group discussion people seemed to like this approach as they admitted to often feeling awkward talking to their non-Christian friends about attending church, possibly because of the bad reputation that a lot of Christians have as being self-righteous or moralising, things that this group are very adamant are to be avoided and certainly not “real Christianity”. I like them for this, but as I pointed out, that some Christians are uptight isn’t my main problem with the religion. In fact, I’d accept the teaching being authoritarian, if only they were true and made sense. It’s certainly true that I like my alpha group as a bunch of people much more than the kind of people who stand in the street waving a bible and preaching hell fire, but liking them doesn’t make them any more likely to be correct in their belief. Their take on Christianity might feel easier to accept, but it’s no more likely to be true, in my view, than the fire and brimstone versions. Nice people can be mistaken. I’m only in my late thirties, but my experience of life so far has suggested that every group of people – whether grouped by politics, religion, race or interests – has some nice people and some unpleasant misanthropes. It’s often the latter who get the most media coverage, something which is easy to be swayed by if the group is a minority or are unfamiliar to you. If you know a few Muslims who are decent folk, you’re less likely to be influenced by the media portrayals of the few extremists who make the news instead if the many peaceful, considerate ones who don’t.

At the end of the evening Danni made arrangements for the longer “Holy spirit” session which was at her house the following night. We were to watch the videos, eat curry and then “See what happens” she said with a grin and a shrug. This made me curious as it sounded like she was expecting some holy spirit magic to occur, which would’ve been very interesting. Regrettably I woke up the next day with a splitting headache and spent much of the day in bed recovering, so was unable to get to work, let alone the alpha course in the evening. I felt a bit bad about it as they’d done their best to arrange the session for a time I could make.

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