The Kingdom Without The King
Last week I heard the story of an English pastor who arrived in LA to plant a church. During his first week, he went to a bar to try to get an idea of what local culture was like. While there he ended up chatting to a group of three he had never met before. They were chatting away for 20 minutes with each of them sharing about why they were in LA. But eventually the question was tuned to this English pastor: “Why are you here in LA?”
He knew this wasn’t going to go well, so he braced himself for full impact as he told them, “Well, I just arrived in LA this week, and I’m here because I’m going to start a new church.” Immediately, one of the three picked up their drink and just walked away without saying anything. The second person looked at him with total disbelief, and said, “But… you’re so nice!?” The third person went bright red, almost like they were guilty or embarrassed, before also walking away.
The society we live in is no longer neutral territory. Gone are the days when the word “Christian” elicited a positive association, in fact, in most circles, Christians aren’t even liked anymore. One person has described Christians as like “bad sushi.” Those around us think they’ve tried Christianity, they didn’t like it, and they definitely don’t want to try it again.
So how do we reach such a culture with the life changing message of the gospel? This was the discussion at The Alpha Conference Rachel and I attended last week in Phoenix. And you might think their answer would be to do more Alpha, but it was so much more.
One great emphasis was upon the power of the Holy Spirit released through prayer and worship. Without this fuel, our own systems and strategies and processes will never reach their full God-sized potential. You can watch my and Rachel’s recap video we posted here on Facebook for more of our insights.
We’ve seen the power of this at our own Alpha course. We’ve already had two people make decisions to give their lives to Jesus, and we anticipate these are the first of many. At the beginning of next month we are taking an Alpha Weekend retreat, and I can’t wait to share with you what God does over those 48 hours. Would you join me in praying that many people would come and that God would do a powerful work that weekend?