Jesus encourages us to eat out. So in obedience to his teaching we had an enjoyable meal at Left Bank on Wednesday evening, to mark the conclusion of our 38th Alpha course.
Three months ago few of us knew each other and yet one of the powerful dynamics of the whole Alpha experience is to build up fellowship through the shared meal, so important in the ministry of Jesus.
That’s why Alpha morphs into Beta, Beta into Beta-plus, and Beta-plus into a house group.
And I guess we were a fairly mixed group – but all participants had been changed, transformed even, by encountering God through doing the 10 week course. What these new disciples did have in common was a need to understand how to live in this world and they wanted to check Jesus out. And of course, we are all work in progress.
You can read some of their stories on our church website:
But it is fascinating to discover why people had signed up for this particular course. Some just through seeing the poster on the A59 day after day, others through picking up the invite leaflet somewhere or other. What house-to-house visiting last night picked up was how many people know about the course and mean to do it sometime.
However, what is most important is a personal invitation, from a friend or family member already a church member.
This was powerfully demonstrated during our Holy Spirit day in November. Jacqui had arranged for the afternoon worship to be led by John Forshaw and Mark Charnock, two guys from Scarisbrick who have done Alpha with us.
(Incidentally John now helps lead the Bescar Lane Methodist Church while Mark has a key ministry at St Elizabeth’s RC church. And both of you read this blog!).
Anyway, they told their stories. I can’t remember how John came to do our Alpha course way back in September 2001 (well, there’s a month to
remember) but he then invited his friend Bernard Simpson to the next course. Bernard, as many of you will know, has subsequently invited lots of people– but one of these was Mark. Then Mark, having done Alpha course invited Barbara. And in turn, Barbara invited her sister Pat to our present course. Pat was at Left Bank this Wednesday – and in church this last Sunday to our welcoming Family Service.
We should have sung the Graham Kendrick song “The wine of the Kingdom”
One shall tell another
And he shall tell his friend
Husbands, wives and children
Shall come following on
From house to house in families
Shall more be gathered in
And lights will shine in every street
So warm and welcoming
Come on in and taste the new wine
The wine of the kingdom
The wine of the kingdom of God
Here is healing and forgiveness
The wine of the kingdom
The wine of the kingdom of God.
But we didn’t
So our next Alpha is about to begin, this Tuesday 8.00 pm in the Ministry Centre. Last February our course was launched by Darrell Tunningley, an ex-con now a pastor in Runcorn. This month our course is being launched by Anthony Delaney, an ex-cop now a pastor in Manchester.
We have no idea how many will turn up, and so Jacqui and her team are working hard – coffee and cake with school parents this afternoon and the Alpha stall at Ormskirk market tomorrow. The A59 banner is up and we hope that people will be seeing the invite in CONSIDER this weekend. Hopefully the men’s sports quiz will encourage some guys to turn up.
However, what really counts is the personal invite from you. It really is not difficult to encourage a friend or neighbour, a relative or colleague, to come along. It could change their lives and consequently many others with the new wine of the Kingdom of God.