Saturday, 11 February 2012

Coincidence? I Think Not

This will be a completely partisan and biased post. I freely admit that.

I travelled to the City of Lloydminster (pop. 26,502) the other day, on behalf of Alpha Canada. My purpose was to introduce myself as the Associate Regional Director for Alberta (I decided to annex the Saskatchewan side of the city as my own as well), and find out what interest there might be among churches there for the Alpha Course.

I was very warmly received by all the churches I was able to visit, (10 out of about 15 churches I was able to identify in the city). Many were familiar with the Alpha course and some had actually worked with it in the past.

There is one church currently presenting Alpha in Lloyd, Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship, affiliated with the PAOC. I first met Kevin, the Church's Alpha coordinator, at his home for lunch, and had the opportunity to speak with him at length and share what we discovered was our common passion for Alpha as a tool for reaching the unsaved for Christ. Visiting with him, I saw myself several years ago, when I would personally be involved in as may as six or seven Alpha courses a year, so on fire was I for what I still view as a most wonderful means of evangelism.

Later that day I visited the church itself and met its lead pastor, Lyle Berg. He gave me a tour of his facility, which they've just recently had to expand. The new sanctuary seats up to a thousand people. Average Sunday attendance, I was told, is over 600. Pastor Lyle spoke highly of Kevin and his wife, basically saying that he just let Kevin take the ball and run with it. This is the type of 'Triple e' (enabling, empowering, encouraging) leadership, in my opinion, that can really let a community flourish and grow.

But now, let's do some rudimentary math. A city of 26,000 people, with 15 churches, should allow fewer than 1800 people per church. If about 10% (a number I have heard) of the population regularly attend any church at all, then each church should average somewhat less than 180 people. Yet here is a vibrant, growing church averaging over three times, and as many as five or six times that.

And they are doing Alpha in a passionate and enthusiastic way. Go figure! I'm not saying Alpha is responsible for these numbers; not at all! What I'm saying is that here is a vibrant, growing, thriving church, and it is that in part because they have a heart to reach out into the community with the saving message of Jesus Christ. And Alpha is only one indication of that attitude. But is it any coincidence that the one church in town using Alpha also happens to be such a thriving place?

As wonderful a reception as I received at many of the other churches in town, well, I'm not really sayin', y'know, ...just sayin'.

Take Care

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