We have just finished the first Alpha Course we have run at St. Mark’s, which was a great experience. Taking part in Alpha and watching their videos reminds me of the positive and transformative power of Jesus and the Christian faith. But they are keen to emphasise to us that Alpha is only the beginning of a journey with Jesus. The final Alpha session is on the topic ‘What About the Church?’.
Part of our journey as followers of Jesus means coming to terms with ‘the Church’. Australians have often had a difficult relationship with organised religion, as it seems to be something that conflicts with our independent, easy-going view of life, and our scepticism towards authority. Often members and leaders in our churches have not proven to be trustworthy, or even basically decent people. In the recent census, the decline of people associating with Christianity, or any religion, has continued.
One of my hopes in the next part of this year is for us at St. Mark’s to reflect again about what the church is, and should be, in the plans and purposes of God. Starting in Term 3 we are going to do a series looking at the letter to the Ephesians, which I’m calling ‘Being the Church’. The Apostle Paul gives, in Ephesians, a big and inspiring vision for what the Church is supposed to be and to do in the world. Hopefully this brings us back to what the purpose of our church here in Emerald is supposed to be, and helps us to see what God intends for us in the future.