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The Forest City attendance graph showed growth but the home group graph showed plateau. They began to ask, “Why are small groups not growing at the same rate as our congregation?”

October 8, 2015 0 0 comments
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This webinar recording will walk you through ways to live and share Jesus through Coffee Break. Learn new ways to share the gospel story! 

September 9, 2015 0 0 comments
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What should be included in a new member's class? Please share your ideas, best practices - and maybe things to avoid - in developing a new members class.    

September 2, 2015 1 6 comments
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It’s important to marinade in our need for the cross—our continuing need for the cross. Join Dave Bast and Scott Hoezee on Groundwork in discussing Jesus the suffering servant and Son of God.

April 13, 2015 0 0 comments
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The Pharisees tried to ensnare Jesus in His own words. I’m not sure what they expected Him to say in reply, but what He did say ensnared the trappers. Check out the conversation on Groundwork!

March 16, 2015 0 0 comments
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Recently, Groundwork continued a series on spiritual disciplines that is less about doing, and more about being or living. How do we live our faith with discipline?

February 9, 2015 0 0 comments
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ReFrame offers a broad array of media experiences with the goal that you see what God is doing in your life and around the world. We invite you to share these radio episodes and blog posts.

December 22, 2014 0 0 comments
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Groundwork is a radio and podcast program using dialog and conversation to dig into tough issues from the Bible. Hosts Dave Bast and Scott Hoezee guide listeners in thoughtful, yet casual conversations.

December 15, 2014 0 0 comments
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“Ministry of presence” is a favorite phrase of chaplains to describe how they work -- with or without words -- to be the vehicle of God’s love. Some speak of this as “incarnational ministry.”

December 15, 2014 0 0 comments
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Groundwork is a 25-minute radio and podcast program using dialogue and conversation to dig into tough issues from the Bible. In this set, we hear about the challenges facing those sharing the Gospel in Africa and in America

November 14, 2014 0 0 comments
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"Do not be conformed to this world..." Romans 12:2. One searching believer's thoughts on the connection between being 'in the world and not of it' and the gospel message of belonging.

October 28, 2014 0 1 comments
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Listening to others and what they experience in their lives makes us better and more productive tools of God; ones that can carry out His purposes.

October 13, 2014 1 2 comments
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This one-hour learning event, based on the Heidelberg Catechism, is an easy and practical way for you to be equipped to be active in sharing your faith.

September 24, 2014 0 0 comments
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People get missions and evangelism mixed up. To many Christians, missions is going to another country and evangelism is knocking on doors, stopping people in the streets...

September 16, 2014 3 6 comments
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What do we mean when we say that "God is Love"?

September 4, 2014 0 3 comments
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How many people know your church exists? What does it take to see a good number at your first worship service as a church planter?

August 7, 2014 0 2 comments
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“I will be visiting a close relative in the next couple of weeks. My relative is not a Christian. I would love to give them a pamphlet or small book which explains the gospel. What would you suggest?”

August 5, 2014 0 3 comments
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Is your church preaching the gospel or is it only preaching salvation?

July 31, 2014 0 3 comments
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This book is designed to enlighten, encourage and equip church leaders as they seek to rediscover the 'sentness' inherent in the message of the gospel and the purpose of church.

July 17, 2014 0 0 comments
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Approximately three percent of the earth’s population is living in a country or setting that is different from the one in which they were born. Many of these people have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

June 19, 2014 0 0 comments
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The gentleman and I chatted about politics, the majority religion here, self-appointed prophets, and the greatest question of all, namely 'Who is the living God?"

The gentleman tried to furnish answers from the Qur'an which talk about Allah as the "ever-living, and the sustainer of all...

June 7, 2014 0 1 comments
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CrossPoint Christian Reformed Church of Brampton, Ontario, is seeking a 1/2 time Outreach Ministry Team Leader.  Working with our staff team, your main focus would be on leading and equipping God’s people to share the good news of salvation with our multi-cultural community.  If this position...

March 25, 2014 0 0 comments
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Community CRC Announcement: We are excited to announce that the Go and Tell evangelism seminar by Pastor Jim Halstead is now available for free. Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men...

March 21, 2014 0 0 comments
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We have found that testimonies are the best form of evangelism (what a shocker!). So we are teaching people how to give their testimonies. What would you include as essential elements?

January 3, 2014 0 1 comments
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1 Peter 3:15 says,  "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,." How do you equip your church to go and profess the gospel to those outside of...

August 15, 2013 0 11 comments

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Atheist on Christians who do no evangelize: Atheist Penn Jillette is one half of Penn and Teller, a duo that has been headlining Vegas shows for years with comedy and the art of illusion. Penn has never been shy about his disbelief in God, often writing about his conviction in articles and best-selling books. Yet in an on-line video blog that can be found on YouTube, Penn shares a story about the time a gracious Christian businessman gave him a Bible as a gift. Penn goes on to use the story as an opportunity to point out that Christians who don't evangelize must really hate people. Here's the direct quote from his video blog:

I've always said, you know, that I don't respect people who do not proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, uh, well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think that people shouldn't proselytize, [saying] "Just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself"—uh, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming to hit you, and you didn't believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.

How ar eyou doing sharing the gospel with others? If you need to be equipped to share the gospel, contact Pastor Jim Halstead to lead the Go and Tell seminar at your church.

I hope yo ucan attend the Go and Tell Evangelism seminar this Saturday, October 12, (9:00am-Noon)  Hosted by Grace CRC (1724 Whites Road, Kalamazoo MI 49008) kalamazoograce@yahoo.com or call the church office at 269-345-2864

Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This three hour seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others.

I attened the Go and Tell personal evangelism training led by Rev. Jim Halstead and it was fantastic.  As the director of youth and outreach at my church, we will be hosting Pastor Jim at our church on Oct. 12 to continue his God called equipping of His people.  You are invited to attend at Grace CRC in Kalamazoo or contact Pastor Jim at Fort Wayne, IN Community Christian Reformed Church to have him conduct the training at your church.

Do you share the good news with others?  I didn't.

The Go and Tell seminar solidified the motivation to be obedient to share the good news with others.

It is not easy to change but this seminar provided reasons from the Bible, The Heidelberg Catechism and practical examples that I needed to seek God's help to begin to make this change.

Clear and practical examples and tools were provided along with practice opportunities through role plays to help get us started.

We all need to share the good news with others because we are commanded to directly and also because this is a clear way we can show we love others because we care about how they are living on earth and where they will spend eternity.

Change is not easy but this seminar was very helpful in facilitating much needed change.

I attended the "Go and Tell" seminar on September 7th.  I was more than pleased!  I was very pleased to see the Heidelberg Catechism and a Reformed bent through and through!  I was greatly inspired and taught the biblical approach from the scriptures on how to evangelize!   My eyes were opened to many truths and I am excited to see God use "Go and Tell" as a means to equip saints in obeying the commandment of fulfilling the Great Commission!

Community CRC will host the Go and Tell seminar on Saturday, September 7, (9:00am-Noon). Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This three hour seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others.
Community CRC (3434 Lahmeyer Road, Fort Wayne IN 46815). Contatc Community CRC fo rmore info fwcrc@hotmail.com
www.fortwaynecrc.com

The Lord has blessed us with many salvations at Community CRC (Fort Wayne IN) in the past several years. Community CRC mission statment is "to equip the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment one disciple at a time." I have just written an Evangelism Training Seminar called Go and Tell-an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This tool has equipped many in our church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Philemon 7 says, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ Jesus." Please contact Pastor Jim Halstead at Community CRC if you would like to know more about this evangelism seminar. www.fortwaynecrc.com

My wife and I have worked with people with disabilities for over 30 years. We live in Washington state so there is not 50 percent of any group that goes to church. Our experience that less than 20 percent of Chrisitan families that have a member with a significant disablility goes to church on a regular basis. Many of them do not go becuase of the three reasons you list above. I beleive that this is the ripest of mision fields in America. Most churches I have worked with that have made a serious effort in reaching people with disablilities have seen significant growth not only from people with disablilities but from extended family and the community as well. Here is a resource I recomend offten it is a great chapter on reaching out to the disablility community.

 

Dynamic Community Outreach

http://community-outreach.com/

Diane Dekker "Author of Two Trees of Knowledg...(Kansas) - See all my reviews

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This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

I will say right off that if you believe in the absolute truth of scripture, this book is not for you. The main thesis of this book is that there is not only a discrepancy between the Word and Christ, but the Word and Christ are actually in an antithetical relationship. Halter divides the world of Christians into two camps- those who see the person of Jesus through "the literal interpretation of doctrine," and "those who see the Christian message through the person of Jesus." He is among the latter. He states that we need to "realize that truth is important, but according to scripture, truth is not the only thing or the most important thing. The most important thing is whether or not people are attracted to the truth...". The main thrust of this book is to divorce Jesus from his message. Halter states, "Our main contention is that what drew people to Jesus, surprisingly was not his message. It was him. ...His message repelled people. Many people who were drawn to him as a man would leave after he let them in on the message." Halter's solution? "I make it a point to ask people not to be evangelistic. I tell them that I don't want them to try to figure out how to share the gospel with strangers."

Halter is extremely critical of "WestMods," because of their belief in "absolute truth." He claims that Christianity is an Eastern religion and we need to return to believing without proof, believing people we trust. He warns leaders about working with Christians who are biblically literate and who know enough to discern good from evil: "We recommend that, if possible, you read through this book with a group of people--perhaps a mix of Christian folk (jaded, spiritually disoriented, but open). The process probably won't work too well (or maybe at all) with Christians who tend to know too much, talk too much, and judge too much."

How does Halter's theology play out in practice? He filters out mature Christians right from the get-go: "Even in my coffee talk with...visitors, I wait to drop the bomb until I've heard their story. If they're struggling in faith, have no faith or have been hurt in church, then I'm as cordial as Mr. Rogers. But if I discern they have been walking with God a long time, have put in a few thousand hours in church, seem overly religious or more interested in lofty theological debate than in rolling up their sleeves to serve, I get a little more assertive. Before God, I have to protect the missional calling of our church." Quotes from "the talk": "I just want you to know we are not a church...I don't feel any compulsion to feed you spiritually...This mission probably has nothing to offer you." He fills his "church" with "spiritually disoriented" people, but feels no compulsion to feed them spiritually.

To Halter, incarnational living means "participating in the natural activities of the culture around you, with whimsical holiness...Last week I attended an engagement celebration for one of our village leaders...it was pretty fun to watch our young men navigate the tension of beautiful women, wine and more beautiful women...We all commented on how we "outpartied" the partiers." It also means less focus on family because "over-commitment to extended family" and the "constraints of children" are barriers to incarnational living. If I didn't know better, I'd say Screwtape was the architect behind this "church."

The book gets one star not because I disagree with Halter's theology, but because in his references to scripture, he changes all the details of scripture passages to make them fit his theology. See his version of the woman caught in adultery on page 44.

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5.0 out of 5 starsRadical ideas about living the Christian Faith in our "post everything" culture., April 16, 2008

By

Andrew White(Denver, CO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

As a Christian who has been involved in ministry as a participant or leader over the last 15 years, I have to say that this book has some of the most fresh ideas about reaching the world that I have ever heard. The odd thing is they are not "new" ideas, they are firmly rooted in scripture and an understanding of the way believers and nonbelievers lived in community 2000 years ago. Halter and Smay communicate clearly the message that if the church is going to grow and continue to be a vessel for change in people's lives, it is going to have to change the way that it relates to people in our modern culture.

In reponse to the review above, never once did the authors suggest that adopting a child or having a block party was a substitute for Christ's redemptive work on the cross. This book was not written as a gospel presentation. It was written to Christians and Church leaders who already know the gospel, but don't know how to make that gospel matter to people who have never been to a church and never care to.

I would reccomend this book to any Christian, especially one in a leadership role, who is interested in having a deeper impact on the people in their communities.

 

This book and its message do a great disservice to Christ, his purpose & His church.

I would not recommend this book to anyone, not a single person. The mission of these writers appears to be to discredit the entirety of Christianity and organized religion after Constantine. And what help is this?

But as noted by another, they might have spent more time getting educated instead of simply bashing Theology. Their grasp of church history is shallow and distorted. For instance they state that as concerns the early Christians they "...were spreading like a virus...and spilling out into the streets." This is far from history since we know that the Christians were neither befriended by the Jews or the Romans, and suffered intense persecution by both parties. It was in fact this persecution that caused the spreading of the Gospel message outside of Jerusalem and Israel. Further, you cannot simply throw out doctrine - you can only replace it, as these authors do. They decry church doctrine and words, yet create and use their own peculiar versions of the same. We as Christians are not modern islands of truth, somehow divorced from our history, from the labors of dedicated servants of God who carefully examined and explained Scripture for all of us who followed (these 2 authors included).

These authors in their insistence upon condemning the Church claim that "...it really isn't easier to start a church with Christians. They are generally more opinionated, more critical..." Put aside that amazing blanket statement, these authors once again forget that the Ecclesia, were very simply "the called-out ones". The early church was made-up of Christians called out of their culture, and called together - these were not atheists gathered together, but Christians. The authors once again place blame upon the Church an insist that "...most of the Church is stuck, and has been for 1700 years." Another grandiose claim that does not get evaluated or described. If anything we might point to this "fact" as demonstrating that the truth that is and has been present in Church, has survived the passing of time. A gross and unfair generalization.

This book show open contempt for the Church as a whole, as a building and all its tradition: placing "sanctuary" in quotes as some questionable relic. Worse though in all this is their improper view of Scripture. Since these authors show their dislike of Christian education "We need to care for the poor & oppressed, the hurting and confused, instead of systematic theology..." it should come as no surprise that they reinterpret Scripture to suit their ideals. These authors miss the point of Jesus and instead claim "...what drew people to Jesus, surprisingly, was not his message. It was him. His face, the softness of his voice, the whimsical look he gave children, how he laughed, and how he lived." Following this characterization of God incarnate, they even suggest that Jesus was "...drawing a smiley face" in the dirt while confronting the Pharisees and woman caught in adultery.

But this is false, blatantly false. I'm sorry if you follow Rick Warren's theology, but Jesus did not come to heal, to comfort and laugh with people. Jesus came to save sinners, to offer them life everlasting. Jesus came to offer an alternative to everlasting Hell, to separation from the all-Holy God. Miracles and cures He could have worked through anyone - but to truly remove the offence of sin against an eternal God, He Himself had to come and offer an eternal sacrifice for sin. That is why He came!
That He did perform miracles and did heal many cannot change his message and purpose. It is sad that these authors would diminish both the Holy requirements of an all-Holy God, and his true purpose, and instead replace this with dreamy speculations about how he looked and laughed.

As a final note of contention against the message of this book, God's truth and the Gospel message has always been relevant. We are no different, nor more special or afflicted with "modern" issues than those destroyed by the Flood. The message is still the same and needs no revision on our part. While we should be attentive to proper delivery, we can never suggest it is not relevant. We are still sinners separated from God, in need of a Savior - who alone gives eternal life.

This book was sitting on my pile of unread books for quite a while until I picked it up recently. It came highly recommended, but I was afraid that it was going to be overly theoretical, "postmodern", introspective, and rather too dull for my tastes. I am happy to say that proved not to be the case, and I found the book both interesting and challenging.

Most churches in the West have become increasingly irrelevant to their surrounding culture, and the book tells the story of Adullam, a network of missional communities located in Denver, Colorado. They have redefined church not as a building, or a congregation of people who meet once a week, but as groups of people who live their Christian faith in their daily lives. A weekly gathering usually still happens, but it is not the focal point of the church.

The authors describe a church of sojourners - temporary, spiritually curious but disoriented God seekers - and missional people - those who are committed to the cause of the gospel. Sojourners can come and go as they like within the inclusive Christian community without judgment or pressure, while the missional people live according to clear rules of life. The book provides a clear and timely challenge to church leaders, but it left me wondering whether the effectiveness of the gospel is limited by how effectively I try to act like Jesus.

posted in: Tangible Kingdom

This review is from: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Hardcover)

As the previous review pointed out, the strength of `The Tangible Kingdom' is the stories. Halter and Smay include some great anecdotes from their own lives as church planters that illustrate their faith and ministry in the context of modern culture. Their care and love for people is evident. Their real-life examples of being missions-minded, invitational, and outward-reaching are personally challenging to me.

With that said, the book also has a few weak points. They get much of their church history backwards. For instance, they claim "People in the Dark Ages tended to be focused on God. They built their churches in the middle of their towns and lived to survive the day and keep God at the center of their worldview." That might be a good description of the Puritans. However, prior to the Enlightenment, Reformation, and Great Awakening, while `religion' and `superstition' were prevalent, God being the center of community just wasn't the case.

Additionally, they go on to champion the Eastern-mindset as having a radically holistic approach to life - and claim `Christianity is completely, entirely, an Eastern faith.' That's a bold statement. If anything, Christianity, born at the crossroads between East and West has had a significant impact on the West, while having a marginal impact on the East. As a result, the ideals, worldview, and mindset that are reflected in the West, more closely align with the core tenants of Christianity. Those would include the world being separate from God, the world being knowable, the sanctity of human life, life having meaning, and life going somewhere as opposed to life being endlessly circular.

However, the part of the book that most concerned me was their understanding of the gospel. The authors claim the gospel isn't the answer of Jesus to the sin-problem of men and women. Rather, it's "[God's] love and acceptance and vision for every human being... God's love for his created humanity." That description of the gospel too easily marginalizes the passion, crucifixion, and substitutionary death of Jesus. In fact, if the gospel is merely about God's love and acceptance of every human being, then why would Jesus have to die? They go on to claim that the gospel isn't just about God's love, it's about love in general - people adopting children, having block parties, and planting trees... "it's all Kingdom, and it's all good news." While Christians are called to love others, that's not the gospel - that's an outworking of the gospel. The good news in the New Testament isn't a message about us, it's a message about Jesus. The authors go on to claim, we should look for ways to "Witness to this gospel by bringing tangible slices of heaven down to life on Earth, and continue to do this until those we're reaching out to acknowledge that our ways are `good news'." Again, the gospel is not a message about me. It's a message about Jesus, who is more than sufficient for a person has the same problem a non-Christian does. It's called sin, and Jesus provides an incredible answer to it - His life. His good news is about Him, not about me trying to be Him.

In short, I wanted the book to be more about its sub-title, "The Posture and Practices of the Ancient Church Now." I was hoping for an understanding of how the Jesus of then is the same today and how His cross can be known now. Instead, the book focused more on general relationships, inter-personal situations, and caring for people in community. Those are good, but how are they uniquely Christian? How do they differ from the community experienced by people from other faith-traditions? In short, the community in the Tangible Kingdom seemed to be both the beginning and the end.

posted in: Tangible Kingdom

Hi John,

 Great suggestions on helping disabled persons find work and more to live for.  My problem is no one is there to talk about anything. People are to busy with other things they consider more important and rarely leave their social cliques to ask anything.

   It is nice to know this isn't occurring everywhere like at Chelwood CRC. They have the gift of understanding and care for the hurting.

Thanks

Ken

Mark,

You asked me to comment on how churches can help persons with disabilities in their congregations with finding employment?  Some thoughts on that:

Talk with the person about their interests and experience/skills.  What family and community supports are in-place to assist the person. 

Share information about employers and businesses that you are familiar with (but, be aware of the need for confidentiality regarding not naming the person's specific disability.) 

If the person does not have a job developer or other agency person working on emloyment with them, ask if you could help them with obtaining and completing job applications.

If they have professional help, find out who that person and agency is, and offer to help with contacting employers, and with acting as a mentor.  Agencies that the person may be involved with include: State Mental Health Services, State Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Services for the Deaf and/or Blind, Private Rehabilitation agencies, Special Ed. Transtion Program (if still in high school), to name a few

Offer to help with transportation if needed.  In rural communities, this is often a barrier for people with a disability who cannot drive, or don't have access to public transportation.

Speak with business people in your congregation and the community on behalf of the person to find out if they would be willing to meet the person to talk about their company and the jobs that people do there.  

That's a good idea. I kept a fairly low profile with this webinar because I have never led one before, so I didn't do wide promotion. Will publicize more the next time. Thanks for the suggestion. It's not available yet, but a recording of this webinar will be posted in the "Webinar Archives" at the bottom of this page.

Hi Mark,

   I can understand. What I was referring to is a notice by email or an announcement of some sort about the webinar.

 Thanks Mark

Ken

Ken, sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. What are you suggesting I send to the churches? Tx, Mark

Hi Mark,

 Could you please send them to the churches too.  Maybe your way ahead of me, but some how the word has to get out.

Ken

I have been running Youth Alpha for the last 11 years and it is a great tool. one of the best youth tools I have used. it has just been revised again and so stays relevant and kids like it  It is a great place for good discussion and letting kids talk about faith issues in a safe environment.  It is great for both churched and non churched kids and I would recommend it highly.

Love this book, Jason. We're using it in several small groups and I know other churches that use it as THE first study for ALL small groups. Intense, but I love it.

posted in: Tangible Kingdom

I can attest to the fruit of the Alpha program. I had prayed for my brother for years to find the Lord. He attended the Alpha course and has accepted Jesus as his Saviour. He hungers to learn more. Praise be to God.

Thanks for sharing your testimony, Wilbur. As you can see with my other posted comment, our present group is being impacted by Alpha too.

Thank you, Grace, for sharing your testimony about how Alpha impacted you and transformed your husband. I'm excited about how Alpha is already impacting our present group. One participant is an agnostic who asks many good questions and seems to be warming up to Jesus and the gospel. A Hindu refugee couple is also a part of our group and they are enjoying learning more about Christianity. Another couple comes from a nominal Christian background and is drawing closer to the Lord through their involvement.

I was led by the course also. I took it two years ago and flondered around a it but now Ihave joined my church and playon the praise team as well as serve on the pre school board and our Vision Team. A great program that I have asked to teach if our church revives it.

Alpha was the way that God lead my husband to Christ, and solidified my love for Christ. I attended in 2003 and have been an active member ever since. My husband attended in 2004 and also has been actively involved in the church. We teach/co-ordinate Sunday school, I lead GEMS and am an elder. We have continued to attend a Thursday night bible study that began with Alpha 5 years ago. Several other Alpha attendees from the same year are also deacon, GEMS leaders, and active participants in the Church. Alpha is a great tool to connect with community members - connection being the most important part. It was the connections we made with church members and our pastor that made us choose to become members of this particular church.

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