Coming into a church building is hard.
Even if one could somehow set aside all faith aspects, walking into a church for the first time remains thus: a stranger entering a large room full of people who already know each other. It’s a outsider entering a group who are, essentially, family. To be that newcomer takes a lot of basic, social courage.
And this is before we even mention a journey with God.
The church is, of course, not brick and mortar but people; and in our church people who make that very transition as easy as possible through authentic welcome and genuine friendship, right at the door. But it is so easy to overlook the simple intimidation factor of coming through those doors in the first place.
One of the greatest gifts the Alpha course can give to someone curious about our Father is to meet outside of the church building. On somewhat more neutral ground, the message of the Gospel is no less potent; in fact, it was on the streets and in the fields and from boats, doorways and noontime wells that Jesus lived and taught and impacted the world.
And it’s in that lesson that God meets us where we are at, even in the dirt that I believe anoints Alpha with true breakthrough. In a place of presence, we give people space to be themselves, to ask the awkward niggles and voice the actual concerns that they have, wherever they are. Giving someone genuine space to do that without judgement or intellectual maneuvering reduces us and magnifies God. Allying their questions with honest promises to journey with them to uncover the answers, demonstrates God and his restorative, incredible plan.
‘Without love, I am nothing,’ writes Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13. Even with the understandings of God, with prophecy and mountain moving, without love: we’re nothing. And that’s because all of those miraculous things start with love. Love fuels them. God so loved us, first. And love is not just words, but action and integrity. It’s friendship, authentic and unassumed. It’s acceptance and unconditional hopegiving. It’s seeing potential, in everyone and everywhere and drawing it out. It’s what Jesus did and does and would do.
Our Alpha meets every Wednesday at 7.30PM in Caffe Nero, right in the heart of Dundee. You are warmly invited.
It’s a place where you come as you are to an open discussion of God with warmth and honesty. We’ve been blessed with a solid number of fifty attendees each week. The Nero staff love the event and often let us stay a little longer than we should. It’s an atmosphere of peace, love and breakthrough, because, essentially, it’s church. Just, I truly pray, a lot easier to walk into.
Blog by James Law, Team Leader of our Alpha Team.