As we continue adjusting to life during a global pandemic, church leaders around the world are exploring new ways to share the gospel. At this Alpha Online webinar, Nicky Gumbel and Father James Mallon shared their insights about the impact and benefits of Alpha Online for the Catholic Church.
An Alpha pioneer and an architect of church renovation, respectively, both Father James and Nicky offer a lot of collective wisdom and experience related to how Alpha can be used by parishes to invite people into a transforming encounter with Jesus Christ.
Due to various COVID-19 restrictions, the Church has been tasked with ministering God’s word through innovative, unchartered ways. In this season, Father James reminds us of the need to focus on what can bear fruit – spreading the gospel beyond church walls.
Nicky refers to this season of ministry as “the greatest evangelistic opportunity of our lifetime,” reminding us of Jesus’ commissioning of the apostles.
“This is not a moment for the Church to retreat,” he says. “This is a moment for the Kingdom of God to advance.”
While the Church is still active in meeting a physical need in society through organized causes like food banks and homeless shelters, Nicky emphasizes the digital world has created a space for Alpha to satisfy a growing spiritual need today. Nicky shares that with Alpha online, the Church is finding more people can take part. There is no travel required, and less pressure or expectation felt if they were having to attend Alpha at a church or someone’s home.
The Holy Spirit still finds a way to reach people and Alpha Online provides a bridge to meet them where they are at in life, offering a chance to know and grow with the Lord. Father James calls Alpha an evangelistic tool that can “catch fish” and draw newcomers to Christ, while “tending the sheep” by encouraging spiritual renewal for those already within the Church. In addition to reaching people unfamiliar with or disconnected from God, he has seen how Alpha helps rejuvenate the hearts of individuals and communities already practicing faith.
“If you experience the Church as only coming to Mass, that’s a problem, as the Church was never designed for only that,” Father James says.
Alpha also allows for faith introduction and formation among adults and Father James and Nicky share how Alpha Online has triggered increased participation among young adults and others from outside the Church.
Recognizing the impact of the Holy Spirit, Nicky says Alpha provides these participants with what they are looking for in life – purpose, love and the experience of belonging.
“There’s no greater joy than seeing people experience God’s love and lives being transformed by Jesus.”
Staying connected as a parish and reaching people with the Gospel is hard during the pandemic. Alpha online is a way to engage your parish in evangelization in this season. Alpha helps create a space where everyone feels safe to ask their questions about life, faith and Jesus.