Alpha Canada recently launched its new engagement strategy, Life.Shared.
Life.Shared encourages and equips Christians to invite their family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances on a journey of discovering the God who has created us, loves us and invites us into his family.
We asked Alpha some questions on the new initiative to get a better sense of their hopes and dreams for their programs.
The Charis Foundation: What is your heart behind the new Life.Shared initiative?
Alpha: We exist to inspire and serve the church in its mission to help people discover a relationship with Jesus. Following conversations with church leaders across Canada, one of their main concerns is that Christians don’t feel inclined or equipped to share their faith. Our hope is that the Life Shared Initiative encourages and inspires everyone to participate in sharing faith again.
TCF: How can churches or individuals act on the Life.Shared call for participation in evangelism?
A: We believe that when evangelism is prioritized, the church is revitalized and society is transformed. That may look like a church running Alpha for the first time, running it with an increased emphasis on the whole church inviting, or maybe even running the new small group series ahead of your Alpha to encourage invitation. Ultimately, participation looks like any step towards prioritizing reaching outside of the church, literally sharing the life we have received in Jesus. The initiative is not supposed to be a campaign that churches sign up for as a one-off, but a movement towards everyone being involved in reaching their friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.
For an individual Christian, that could be the simplest of steps - inviting someone to church, to Alpha, for a meal, learning the name of a neighbour or committing to pray for a friend.
TCF: The new Life.Shared video series reminds us that when God calls us to love him with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves, he actually means our real neighbours. What do you suggest we can do to love the people in our neighbourhood? What's one practical step I can take to share God's love for them?
A: In session 3 of the small group series, Jay Pathak shares some simple ways to love our neighbours. In a culture that is characterized by social isolation, the first step we can take is to learn and remember our neighbours’ names. This transforms a stranger into a person. The next step he suggests is to invite them over for a meal. Meals were the way Jesus showed welcome and acceptance and they continue to be effective means of loving people and creating a space for good conversations.
TCF: Evangelism can be scary. So many of us feel ill-equipped or just plain awkward about sharing our faith. How do you tackle those fears?
A: The best way to tackle fear is to encounter love in the person of Jesus, so at its root, this is a theological challenge. Some of the themes that we cover in the small group series are really about holding to a biblical understanding of evangelism. For example,
- We are joining God in what He is already doing in the world not asking Him to join us.
- We don't need to have a qualification - He gives us His Spirit to empower us for mission.
- We don’t do it alone - Evangelism is not an individual sport, it is a commission for the church to carry out together!
In addition to this, there is of course the preconceived ideas as to what evangelism entails; standing on street corners with megaphones, knowing all of the answers to life’s toughest questions. All of this, in a culture that is increasingly post-Christian, can lead us to exclude ourselves. Life Shared is about democratizing evangelism by acknowledging that we all have a part to play. We don’t need to know all of the answers, we don’t need to preach to 100,000 people – we can simply start with a small step and see what God will do.
TCF: Thank you for taking the time to share about this important and much-needed Kingdom endeavour!
We’re so thankful for Alpha’s efforts to share God’s love across our nation and around the world. To learn more about running an Alpha course, or to find one in your community, visit alphacanada.org. For more information on the life shared initiative, visit lifesharedseries.com.