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25 April 2017

Asking, seeking, finding

Richard Collins Richard Collins Elder
Alpha tree searching

The doorbell goes. The first guest arrives. Then another. Into the kitchen. Water or squash? Hi I’m Richard; this is Callom, Justin, Nick. A couple more arrive, take off coats. Let me take that umbrella. The group grows. We mingle. Tentatively at first. Conversation slow but the mood easy-going.

At dinner, we start with the basics. Jobs, family, interests. The nervous are welcomed in. The occasional burst of laughter relaxes us. The closed gradually open up. The confident talk, the shy listen. All have their place. This is Alpha. This is Christianity Explored. A safe place to be heard. To be accepted. To be loved.

Fellow travellers joining others along the way.

Over the weeks, the food is cooked by many. Servant-hearted people who, like the boy surrounded by five thousand on a hill, offer what they can. They are jewels. We enjoy dishes to savour. Flavours from many parts. Bettina, my wife, adds a Mexican flair, serving enchiladas.

And so to the living room, where ice breaks and stories are told. Smiles, laughter, we begin to gel as a group. And this is just the first night.

We watch a DVD about Jesus. Both Alpha and Christianity Explored have released new films. They are beautifully made. They are powerful, moving, true. Without exception, all in the room are attentive. It’s a good start.

Alpha Question Mark

We break into groups for discussion. For some, this is frightening, but no one is forced to speak. Week by week, the same questions are raised. Answers are given and for some, this is helpful. But answers matter less than matters of the heart. We’re creating an environment for seekers to find Jesus. And to be found. We’re trusting that God will open eyes and ears.

Like onions, the layers gradually peel away. At least for some. For others, it is too much. One young woman doesn’t return. It feels like she has made her choice. Yes, it is disappointing, but this is the path we tread. It has ups and downs.

We spend a Saturday together. Extended time to explore more deeply. The group has blended and we enjoy the riches of community together. We eat, talk, laugh, listen, go for a walk and we pray. For some there are tears. For all, there is the opportunity to meet with God. Some reach out. Others withdraw.

One thing is certain. God is at work.


Above Bar Church has been running Alpha and Christianity Explored courses for many years. Each year, we run at least three courses, sometimes more. Occasionally, one course is not enough, so another is offered to those still seeking. We used to run them at church, but more recently, they take place in a home. It is a relaxed and friendly environment.

In our church, we talk a lot about ‘being missional’. This isn’t the only way to ‘be missional’, to share our faith in Jesus, but it is a way. And it’s a way that sits extremely well in our pluralistic culture. In this country, surrounded by so many competing ways of looking at the world, seekers need time to process what they’re hearing. Alpha and Christianity Explored give them that time. Most of all, however, these courses are founded upon an essential ingredient for mission.

Bible in open hand

Relationship.

Relationship builds trust and in an environment of trust, mixed in with a healthy dose of friendship, respect and love, the life-changing good news of Jesus is most clearly understood. And received. I remember a wise piece of advice I once heard. ‘Find out where God is already working. Don’t wait for an invitation. Just join in.’

God is working at Above Bar Church’s seeker courses. It’s a privilege to see him at work.

Bring a friend. Come for yourself.

Don’t wait for an invitation. Join in.

Our next Alpha course begins on Wednesday 26 April.
Email alpha@abovebarchurch.org.uk to join in.

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