I'm sitting down in the church library with eleven others who are getting ready to be the leaders for Alpha. The group prayed for me because I have a pulled muscle, and I've been diagnosed with the beginning of glaucoma. Being prayed for is a humbling and powerful experience that I hope all of us have often! We all "stand in the need of prayer."
I'm not the leader of Alpha. The model for Alpha isn't teacher-student, but, instead, it's intended to let people honestly share together. Having a pastor present tends to be quite intimidating for some. So, instead of being in on the small group discussions, I stay more in the background until the Alpha retreat. There I take on a teaching role. During the rest of the time I make myself available, especially to the leaders, as a helper.
I love Alpha partly because I get to do what I believe I am called to do, that is, to equip and help others to lead. It's a great model of the church at its best.
Fortunately we have lots of things at our church that have that work that way: Quilting, for example, which was canceled this morning because of the cold; Faithfully Fit Forever, which was going on until an hour ago out in the sheep shack; the small groups in our Youth Discipleship Training; the Men's and Women's Bible study groups. I want to always be available for questions, and I love to share what I know, but if I'm always there for every group, how will people get a chance to practice their own Christian leadership? It's often better for me to be in the background.
I hope everyone in our church will get involved beyond Sunday morning worship. Large group gatherings require leadership from someone who is specifically trained, so that will never be "the church at its best." The church at its best is always people who know each other, talk together, pray together, and share their lives. I get a little picture of that at Alpha.
You can still come to Alpha Sunday evening this week. It's not too late. Bring a friend and come at 5:00 for supper. If you want, call the church office and let us know you're coming, but you can just come on the spur of the moment if you want.