- What if you could ask all your crazy questions about God, Jesus and the Bible without fear of judgment or having to endure an awkward sales pitch?
- What if one night a week, you didn’t need to worry about what you and the kids were going to do about dinner?
- What if “those Christians” you were so suspicious of turned out to be the most authentic people you never met?
Feeling empty on the inside? Overwhelmed by the crazy pace of life? Wish you could turn down the negative self-talk; that voice in your head that says, “I’m not worthy of anyone’s love, especially God’s.” Today, while I may not always feel it, I know that I’m God’s favorite kid … and so are you.
Hi. My name is Tad Parker. I first showed up here at Bethlehem United Methodist Church about 3 years ago without much church experience, and I was generally suspicious of “those Christians.” All I wanted was to learn more about God and Jesus without pressure to join anything, and I wanted to help my daughter find a path with faith, but how could I do that without a church?
I shared this concern with Pastor David Lord (yes, that’s really his name) and he suggested I consider taking the Alpha Course. He said it was like a “Christianity 101” class, an introduction to who Jesus is and why so many people choose to follow Him. He invited me to come to church 12 Wednesday nights from 6:00 to 8:00. We’ll have a little dinner, served free unless I wanted to contribute. Then my daughter could go to her class and I could go to mine. And, coming on Wednesday nights did not obligate me to any further attendance or commitment. Period.
My experience with Alpha turned out to be more profound than I expected. 10 or 12 of us all introduced ourselves and agreed to respect each other’s privacy. We watched a short, entertaining video and then talked about it. There was no pressure to contribute, but we all had the opportunity to ask questions if we wanted. Most important to me was my different, often non-Christian, views were welcome at the table. There is a two-day retreat included with the course. I’m glad I made this a priority, but if you can’t make that commitment, it is not a deal-breaker.
What The Alpha Course gave me was a safe place to test drive some new ideas and weigh them against my own. It’s been an important stepping stone on my path to faith. Perhaps just as important, I have new, life-long relationships with “real people.” These are people who I can share my concerns and shortcomings with. They always bring empathy and understanding, but never judgement. So, in the end, those Christians I was so suspicious of turned out to be people just like me, doing the best we can from day to day as we try to deepen our relationship with God and learn to play well with others.