Monday, November 22, 2010

Vampires, Alpha and Contextual Evangelism

This little video is doing the rounds in the UK at the moment,

It is very funny, but I must admit had me cringing a few times as well.  Mainly because it shows clearly how the Alpha course looks for a particular stratum of British society.  So why then is the Aplpha course so succesful if it is so easily lampooned?  Well the simple answer is that it doesn't look like that for everyone.  Many people have come to faith in Jesus through the Alpha course or something similar, just as many people will find the whole concept cringeworthy and unspeakably tragic.  Our Western society is now so stratified and fragmented that what will work well for one group of people will be a downright turn off for another group.

Those of us with an interest in sharing the gospel need to take note.  Mass evangelism assumes that everyone we meet has the same concerns and recognises the same cultural markers.  Mass evangelism no longer has a place in our western multicultural world, in our fragmented and disconnected society.  Instead we need to treat everyone as we find them and learn their lingo fast.  We do still need Alpha courses, but we also need other ways of reaching people, otherwise our churches will just fill with the type of person that likes Alpha and cannot conceive of another way of sharing the gospel.  Alpha may work wonders for vampires, but what about the werewolves, goblins and pixies?

Let me know what you think,  :-)


  1. Funnily enough, I posted that on my facebook page a few days ago. It is a bit cringeworthy, but it's not just Alpha, but Christians generally that are portrayed in that manner by the secular elite here in the UK.

    As someone who has helped out on Alpha, it has its weaknesses (assumes a bit much I think etc.), but it's a reasonable place to start - and that's key, it's just a starting place. Nonetheless, there are a load of beginners courses out there, each trying to reach out in different ways to different groups. Personally, I'm completely pragmatic, whatever works ;)

  2. Agreed! except about the pragmatism thing, "what works" is usally often what works in the short term and has unforseen longterm consequences.

  3. Well, perhaps you're reading a little more into that comment than I intended. We all need a place to start, hence whatever works to get people in through the door and on the right track. Beginning on Alpha, or Christianity Explored, or x, or y, or z, doesn't (I hope) restrict them to slavishly follow that track forever and ever amen. That's all I meant ;)

  4. Fair enough, although the truism "what you catch them with, you keep them with" applies here, i'm not sure how much even the best "course" prepares people for radical discipleship in a very messy reality.

    But believe me, i'm not down on Alpha, it is still a very effective tool, it does need to be applied selectively though, and augumented with real Christian discipleship.