Baptism is a big step in someone’s faith journey. But it isn’t the only step. To publicly declare a personal faith in Jesus Christ, one needs to first hear and understand the Gospel.
Alpha is a tool used by many of our Baptist Churches to help people understand the Gospel and call them into some kind of commitment. Some churches run Alpha multiple times a year, and many use Alpha to invite people to take big steps in their faith.
Ryan Vallee, Church Engagement Specialist for Alpha, says “Alpha is an easy way to make people feel like there’s a safe space to explore faith”. Moreover, surveys done by Alpha have shown that at the end of the course 5 out of every 6 participants make a faith commitment of some kind.
And this has been the experience of City Youth in Penrith.
City Youth is a regional youth group, born out of the Greater West for Christ network. The Penrith churches saw that there was no effective Baptist youth ministry in their area, so joined together to form City Youth.
City Youth launched in March 2023 and spent their first term together going through Youth Alpha with Australian Street Talks, a series of interactive sessions designed to engage young people in conversations about life, faith and Jesus.
Natalie Schroder, Youth Worker for Greater West for Christ, speaks of how she used the pool analogy given by Alpha to communicate where people are on their journey of faith. At the start of the term, many of the youth identified themselves as standing around the pool, or with just one toe in the water. For those from Christian households, this task asked them to reflect on their personal commitment, highlighting that they couldn’t rely on their parents’ faith to save them. For those from unchurched backgrounds, this helped them and their leaders see where they were at in terms of understanding and committing to the Gospel.
For Ben*, a year six boy who was invited to City Youth by his friend, reading and understanding the Bible was a new experience for him. Having heard the Bible read and explained for a few weeks, he asked for Bible to take home. At the end of term his dad came and thanked the team.
“Thanks for the Bible by the way”, said Ben’s dad, “We’ve been reading it every night as a family.”
At the end of the term, Ben walked straight up to the screen with the picture of the pool and pointed to a person in the pool. “I’m there,” he proclaimed.
Many of the youth from City Youth will be at State Youth Camp this coming weekend. Pray for them and the other youth on camp. Pray that it will be a fruitful time of teaching and fellowship, and many youth will make a faith commitment.
Natalie is planning to use National Baptism Week on 15-22 October to call her youth to move towards a decision, and perhaps get baptised.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.