Big Questions by Andrew Goldsmith
Goldsmith's manual on how to run a pre-Alpha style course that explores five big questions is to be applauded
By Andrew Goldsmith
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Reviewed by Martin Poole
Few people including Andrew Goldsmith would argue that the Alpha course has not been a huge success in reaching out to many folk who have found a living faith in the Lord Jesus and are playing a part in the church today. However, early on in Andrew’s book he makes the valid point that “many people who don’t belong to a church are not asking the questions which Alpha asks”.
Andrew’s research has uncovered what he believes are the Big Questions that need addressing as a type of pre-Alpha course:
Is there a God?
Science vs. faith; is God irrelevant?
How can a good God allow suffering?
Is Christianity just a moral myth? (sub text the reliability of Scripture)
What is the meaning of life?
He sets out a five week programme (ten weeks can be too long for sustained attendance) in a sort of Alpha format with Costa Coffee replacing the meal. Andrew regards the choice of venue as key, and favours a neutral location, free of intimidating church rituals and customs.
The book therefore is essentially a manual on how to run such a course with basic outline presentations on each topic and considerable useful material. The presenter has the opportunity to be selective and shape the constituent parts to a mould that suits. There is a call to be “intellectually rigorous without being academic” and it is here that the wealth of resources available in the book are invaluable. Discussion starter questions conclude each topic although the author maintains that discussion quickly flows from the upfront presentations.
Andrew has used this Big Questions course with his own church as well as sharing it with other churches and seen considerable success.
As the book is intended as a reference manual for anyone considering running a course it is not really for handing to an enquirer. The presentations will live with a speaker but be heavy going to a reader.
Andrew is to be applauded for recognising a gap in our outreach armoury and I believe that any church which latches on to this course will find that they scratch where more people are itching.
The Revd Martin Poole is a retired Baptist minister (Penarth, Godalming and Eastleigh Baptist churches)