The Alpha course is no stranger to millions. First founded in 1977 at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), Nicky and Pippa Gumbel further developed its materials and began their work as Alpha course pioneers from 1990. Nicky would eventually become Vicar at HTB for some 46 years before retiring in July 2022.

As of the Gumbels’ sharing at Cornerstone Community Church on 14 November 2022, they have personally impacted 97 Alpha courses at HTB. The Gumbels are also responsible for The Bible In One Year (fun fact: the team uses this fantastic resource every morning!). 

Many millions of lives have been touched by God through the Gumbels’ passion and work for the gospel. We are privileged to share here some of their reflections on faith, culture and evangelism from their dialogue, which was organised by FOPx

Gentle and respectful evangelism in a post-truth society

PIPPA: People are more nervous towards authority, organised religion and those sorts of things.

So evangelism needs to be done in a more friendship-based way of communicating the gospel.

You’re the best example for your friends, whether you’re at school, work, university or wherever it is.

Of course, that puts a pressure on your lives. But even if you feel totally inadequate, they will see something different in you if you love well, if you don’t judge, if you don’t criticise — all the things that Christianity teaches you to do.

Certainly, you’re not going to get it get it right all the time. But they will see the difference. And I think that’s what’s important for people.

… take the risk, step out and pray for them. And you’ll be surprised.

And people are open for prayer — I’m amazed how open people are for prayer.

The person who cuts my hair, who isn’t really a Christian, we’ve been praying for her quite a lot. And every time my daughter-in-law and I ask to pray for her, she always says: “Yes, please.” 

So actually, people love it if you pray for them, even if they’re not Christian. They are usually quite touched by it, if they’re ill, sick, worried or in pain or something. 

They might look a bit awkward, and you may feel a bit awkward. But take the risk, step out and pray for them. And you’ll be surprised.

NICKY: Truth is very important, but so is love. Truth and love have to go hand in hand.

Truth becomes hard if it’s not softened by love. And love becomes soft, if it’s not strengthened by truth. So you’ve got to have a combination of truth and love.

Now, I don’t have the truth. Nobody here has the truth. Jesus is the truth. And the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we get to the truth.

If you’re looking for one word to sum up the Bible, apart from the word “Jesus”, the word would be “love”.

Three little things. First of all, God loves you. That’s the most important thing — to know that you’re loved by God.

Secondly, we love God. That’s our response. We love, because He first loved us. So the Christian life is about experiencing God’s love. Loving God.

And then thirdly, love others. Love your neighbour as yourself, love one another. It’s all about love. And that’s the most important thing, to demonstrate love.

By this will all men know that you’re my disciples, if you love one another. That expression “love one another” appears elsewhere in the New Testament.

… love has to be strengthened by truth.

So we just keep that balance between truth and love. The world has redefined love in a way that’s not actually love — it’s just anything that suits them.

That’s why love has to be strengthened by truth. If you have that combination, it’s really powerful.

This is the second of a two-part article on evangelism that has been adapted from the Gumbels’ sharing at the Alpha x FOPx Open Meeting. First one’s here!

  1. Read 1 Peter 3:15.
  2. What do gentleness and respect in your conversations about Jesus look like?
  3. This week, have a conversation with someone about Jesus (He will help you!).