Alpha Course. Although running this course meant extra evenings out for me, when I already have quite a few evening meetings, it was a good experience for several reasons:
First, it was something Sue and I could (and indeed had to) do together. It gave us some quality time together talking over those things that can easily get pushed to the edges in busy lives. You know, things like feelings (ugh!), forgiveness, and the impact of family. We found it helpful (even after 22 happy married years), so hopefully the guest couples did also. (We will read the evaluation forms next week).
I feel very tender toward the couples who invested this time and money in their relationships. Although couples discuss things on the course privately, we had time to talk and get to know each other a little over dessert and coffee at the start of each evening. Each of those marriages feels very precious to me. We plan to meet again for a catch up in a month.
While every marriage has its challenges, I was inspired that couples can grow closer and love each other more deeply. Sometimes I have heard Christians criticise the lack of commitment in society today, but that was certainly not the case with those who came to this course. Whether they were church couples or not, they showed high levels of commitment to their marriages by attending the course and (as far as we could tell) completing their homework! The desire to make marriage work is common ground between those who are Christians and those who are not.
This course was not cringy. The DVD presentations were very professionally done. Over the top you might say? Don't get carried away with the excellence thing you might advise? But when you are inviting friends who are not from church (as I was) you want it to be good. Thankfully this was a high quality, helpful course. Even the week on "Good Sex" was dealt with sensitively and well. This builds the credibility of the courses offered by East Taieri Church. It will help encourage people to come to other courses or events hosted by the church, such as Alpha.
Hope this is inspiring for you too!