Churches (and church people) are bad at reaching lost people. There, I said it. Someone’s got to. As a pastor, I’m ashamed of this. Inversely, churches are surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) good at reaching people who are already Christians. Churches tend to attract people to their communities who look and act and think like them. This isn’t a new problem, it’s pretty much in the DNA of humans. We want to be around people who are like us. We are tribal beings. We feel most comfortable around those that make us feel safe. This is why churches are often the most segregated places you can find. (An aside here, I know of some churches who are reaching the lost like crazy, and that are also wildly diverse, and to you I say…way to go!)
As I began to dream about how our specific church community, Harris Creek, could be better at reaching the margins, I immediately thought of a resource called “Alpha.” What is Alpha? So glad you asked. Alpha is a semester-long course that explores any and all questions surrounding the faith. You see, a lot of times at church we assume people know all of the Bible stories by heart, that they’ve heard of the Roman Road, that they take what they hear at face value. Usually though, those who are new to church or are exploring the faith lack the context that people who have grown up around the faith have. I believe it’s essential that our church (and THE Church) make room for those people to be able to learn and grow and explore in an environment where they don’t feel judged or out of place. This is where Alpha comes in.
Alpha is a setting where questions are discussed in smaller groups, where doubt and uncertainty are more than welcome, where people can wrestle with life’s toughest questions. Questions like, “If God is good, why does He allow suffering?” and, “Was Jesus really who He said He was?” I believe it’s in talking through these questions in this setting that spiritual breakthroughs can happen and where life change can begin.
At the end of the day, I want Harris Creek to be a place where absolutely anyone feels welcome — from the atheist to the most devout Christian. I want our church to embrace people where they are, and Alpha is a great start. If you’re reading this and you know of someone who could benefit from Alpha, please invite them. Also, if you feel like Alpha could be of benefit to you, come try it out! We’d love to have you.
*If you’re interested in going through Alpha this semester or would like to help volunteer with Alpha, please register online. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me ().