Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A little light word-eating.

Sorry folks....I'll have to climb down a bit on the subject of Alpha. Firstly, because last week's session "What about the church, then?" worked really well as a topic for our small group, thanks to very skillful leadership (emphatically not mine). We recognised that as a congregation we are really NOT good at making friendships and welcoming strangers...heck, it's quite common for me to witness the introduction of 2 people, both of whom have worshipped at St M's for years, but on opposite sides of the church."I'm a North Aisle person myself". From this revelation of self evident truth came a wish, in that group at least, for more small groups to redress the balance. We do have a couple of house groups in the parish, but they are very well-established and would find it extremely hard to reshape to include new-comers, so something more is called for. It's very heartening that this need is being recognised in the congregation, and isn't something that the clergy are imposing to meet our perceptions of what we should be about. I'm not sure we would have got to this point without the space provided by Alpha.
Also, everyone involved has so appreciated the opportunity to talk, over excellent food and we are exploring the possibility of running our Lent groups on this basis. For me, this has been the chance to engage with parishioners without any preordained agenda. Hugely valuable, as I'm still finding my way and getting to know people here.
Finally, on Sunday I spoke to one of the group who had been able to attend the "Holy Spirit Away Day" this Saturday. He was bereaved in June and has been finding the journey tougher than many. A lifelong church member, he said that he felt a reality in the worship on Sunday morning that he had never experienced before, and which he could only attribute to something having been "unblocked" the previous day. In itself, he said, the day had seemed unremarkable, but now......
So, what was I saying earlier?? Alpha may not be my preferred approach...but I have to be glad that we were involved. A learning curve in all sorts of unexpected ways,- but then, God's like that.


Humble Secretary said...

There is a lot to be said for the format of alpha - indeed several courses are modelled in the same way and providing a safe place where people can talk is not just about the food.

Would it be worth considering doing another course within the church - such as the Emmaus course? I know of one church which used that for their lent groups.

Mark said...

Really great to hear your grace stories. 'God of surprises'? - a tautology, if you ask me.

DaveF said...

You're an anglican, you should be able to believe half dozen contradictory things at the same time without breaking sweat.

So empathising with those who have been hurt by something shouldn't stop you believing that that same something can achieve some good!

Alpha is part of church life so like the rest of church it can be terrible or wonderful depending the membership and leadership. And leadership has a big effect - remind me to pray for any clergy I know ;-)

Kathryn said...

Great idea Dave...thanks :-)