By Dn Yvonne Chong
Our Church has been conducting The Alpha Course since 2005. It has been a fruitful journey for the church as we have seen many coming to know Christ and staying to serve in different ministries. Their lives are radically changed and redirected. They heard, they watched, they believed. And when they believed, change happened. They left their old ways, they followed Christ and some became new leaders following Christ. In the process they found great joy and they became an example to others.
This is how the gospel works. They heard it. They are changed by it. And then they speak it, they spread it.
Sharing the gospel is not only about trying to convert new people to Christianity. Converting someone to Christianity is the work of the Holy Spirit. Spreading the gospel is a way for us to partner with the Holy Spirit in that work.
Evangelism doesn’t have to mean making your best sales pitch for Christianity to anyone who will listen. Converting new believers isn’t the only reason for sharing the gospel. Evangelism itself often has more to do with building relationships than building a case for Christianity. In fact, it looks more like talking to your neighbor to build a relationship and offering to help a colleague, making friends. Evangelism does not look like a street preacher who shouts salvation selling a heavenly retirement plan.
I had been wondering: “What would happen if one generation decides that they have received and changed but they do not want to share the gospel?”
Here's the principle: It is only when receivers of the truth become transmitters of the truth, has the gospel really done its job. That's when it has come full circle. The one who receives becomes the one who spreads. But why is this important?
Christianity has often been likened to passing on the flame. It is likened to the Torch Relay - carrying of the flame during the Olympic games, from Olympia, Greece to the stadium where the opening ceremony of the Olympic games is going to be held. When it's completed, there would have been close to 14,000 torch bearers. 14,000 people who carried the torch and passed it on to somebody else. What if one person says: “Nah, I don't want to pass on the flame”. It's going to be delayed, or the fire might not get to the stadium.
We often hear this: “Christianity is always just one generation away from total extinction”. All it takes is one person to decide not to share and that person influences others and this builds up to one generation who doesn’t spread the gospel, one generation to become apathetic and indifferent. It's like: “I received the gospel, I got changed by it, but I won't tell anybody else how to get to heaven”. It is unbelievable and inconceivable that we would keep the good news to ourselves!
It is this generation—our generation—that takes the torch from the previous one that is accountable to the next. Are you prepared to carry the torch onwards?
Our church will heighten our outreach efforts in the coming years as this is one area that has been impressed on us in our Vision in the next few years. “What is this Vision?” many have asked. Vision is spiritual insight and godly foresight, the ability to understand what God's plan is for our church, our lives together in the community in which we live. An example of this is summed up in 1 Chronicles chapter 12. There was a group of people that gathered around King David, they are called the sons of Issachar. And we are told the sons of Issachar had an understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do. That's vision, that's spiritual insight and godly foresight.
The pulpit series on Following Jesus is encouraging Outreach. It is encouraging everyone in church to make new friends, connecting with old friends, talking with your neighbors to share the good news. What if we invite one guest per year to Alpha and have each CG run Alpha at least once in the next 5 years? This will see our church moving towards godly goals in expanding His kingdom while we wait for His second coming.