Mere Christians

Nicky Gumbel (Pioneer of Alpha)

Episode Summary

Why Alpha is the #1 tool I recommend for sharing the gospel with your co-workers

Episode Notes

Why Alpha is the #1 tool I recommend for sharing the gospel winsomely with your co-workers, how Ephesians should compel pastors to view themselves as the “backline” and mere Christians as the “frontline,” and how to “draw out the deep well” in others.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:05] JR: Hey, friend. Welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast. I'm Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians? Those of us who aren't pastors or religious professionals but who work as podcasters, college professors, and gardeners. That's the question we explore every week.


Today, I'm posing it to Nicky Gumbel. He is the pioneer of Alpha, my absolute favorite tool for sharing the gospel with the lost. I'm going to warn you ahead of time. This episode is going to sound like an ad, I promise it's not. I'm not being paid a dime to promote Alpha this hard. I just think it is hands down the best, maybe the only tool I've seen for winsomely sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those that you work with.


On this episode, Nicky and I talked about why that's the case. We talk about how Ephesians should compel pastors to view themselves as the backline of ministry and mere Christians as the frontline. And we talked about how to draw out the deep well in others by listening to them and getting them to go from the surface to the serious to the spiritual. I am such a massive fan of Nicky and Alpha. Please enjoy this great conversation with my new friend, Nicky Gumbel.




[0:01:28] JR: Nicky Gumbel, it's an honor to have you on the mere Christians Podcast. Welcome.


[0:01:32] NG: Oh, it's great to be with you, Jordan. I wish I was with you in person in Tampa, Florida.


[0:01:37] JR: And I wish I was with you in London. I mean, come on. Grass is always greener.


[0:01:41] NG: I do love London. But equally, I love Tampa, I love Florida. It's a beautiful place.


[0:01:47] JR: It's a great place to live. Hey, so before we talk about Alpha, I think it's important that our listeners hear your story personally. You grew up in this family full of barristers, or lawyers for our US listeners. Was that the initial plan for you? I don't remember that part of your story. Was the plan to become a barrister yourself?


[0:02:07] NG: Yes, I did become a barrister. I am still a barrister. I could still practice.


[0:02:12] JR: You could still practice. Interesting.


[0:02:14] NG: What I have, occasionally, I go to court very occasionally. I think I've done two or three times in the last – since 1983 since I stopped practicing full time.


[0:02:24] JR: What happened in 1983?


[0:02:26] NG: So, in 1983, I went to Theological College in Oxford, which led to ordination in the Church of England. But prior to that, I was a barrister. An attorney, I think you would say.


[0:02:37] JR: Yes, an attorney, an attorney. How did you come to faith in Christ? What's the story there?


[0:02:41] NG: There were no Christians on either side of my family. No churchgoers as far back as I can trace. I didn't have a Christian background, and I was an atheist growing up. I became an atheist. My father was an agnostic, I became an atheist. It was in my first year at Cambridge University that my closest friends, [inaudible 0:03:02], told me that they’d become Christians. That was horrifying to me because they were such lovely people. I thought, how can I help them?


The only thing I could think of to do was to read the New Testament. I was going to research lots of things, but it was 11 o'clock at night, so I couldn't find anything except an old Bible I'd had for RE at school. It was reading the New Testament that it was as if the person of Jesus emerged from the pages I was reading about. The person I was reading about, I encountered. That was a life-changing experience. That was 1974. Since then, I've been stumbling along trying to follow Jesus.


[0:03:47] JR: So this is '74. You quit practicing law in '83. Talk to us about those nine years. Once you started following Jesus, how did you start thinking about your career and your future vocation differently?


[0:03:59] NG: Well, at the time, I wasn't actually reading law, but I switched to law because I realized I was going to have to be a barrister before I could be anything else.


[0:04:09] JR: It was a genetic requirement.


[0:04:10] NG: Well, it was. My father had put me down for chambers when I was born, pretty much, and so I had to do it. Actually, I loved it. I loved studying law, and I loved practicing at the bar. I did tax initially, and then I did crime, and then I did civil and commercial. I did family, I did everything. It was a wonderful experience, and I loved my job. I was very close to staying, doing what I was doing because I loved it so much. But when I was seeking God's guidance, I think through the word of God, just reading the word of God and hearing – I wrote down I think, 16 times that I felt the Holy Spirit had spoken to me through the Bible about what I was to do.


Then as I prayed, and then as I talked to my friends, as I watch the circumstances, but I think in particular, as I thought about ten years' time, or 20 years' time, what would – if I achieved all my ambitions at the bar as a barrister, what would happen? It probably wouldn't have happened, but I would have been a high court judge, then you go to the Court of Appeal, House of Lords. And I thought, do I want that? And I thought, no, I don't. If your ladder's leaning against the wrong wall, there's no point in climbing it.


Then when I thought about the alternative, which would be to be involved in full-time ministry, that was what I wanted. I thought, yes, maybe I'd be running a small church – I had no concept I'd be doing what I'm doing now. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have taken a second to decide. But I imagined that I'd be running some – I would be a pastor of a small church, but leading people to Jesus. I thought that was what I wanted to do. Of course, while I was at work as a barrister, that's what I was doing in my spare time, and I loved it. I loved my job. And, of course, if you are in the workplace, that's your primary ministry. I loved my ministry as a barrister, and I loved also leading people to – seeking to lead people to faith. So, I loved my job, but I loved this even more.


[0:06:20] JR: Yes. Well, we talk a lot in this podcast, encouraging the listener who is still working as a barrister, or a barista, or a teacher that that work is ministry. Right? That said, the Holy Spirit clearly calls some people to make the leap that you did, right? That's something. That is one way that He clearly moves. Okay. So you leave in '83, you go to theological training. What's the founding story of Alpha? Because did you create Alpha? How did this come about? What's the origin of this thing?


[0:06:56] NG: No, I didn't create it. It started in 1977 as a six-week course for new Christians. I gave one of the talks, I think, way back in 1977. But it was run by Charles and Tricia Marnham for a few years, and then John Ervin took it on, and made it a 10-week course for the weekend. Then the [inaudible 0:07:15] ran it for five years and polish it. I took it on in October 1990. I didn't really want to take it on. I had to take it on because there was no one else to take it on. I didn't want to take it on because I was interested in people outside of the church. This was a course designed for people who were new to faith but they were already Christian.


But what happened on the first course I did in October 1990, halfway through the course, one of the hosts on the course told me that he had a friend from university called Matthew. Matthew was early 20s, very good-looking guy, had been a very successful sportsman. I don't know what the equivalent would be in the US, but a double blue at Cambridge for rowing. It's kind of as good as you can get. He rowed for two years in the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race. He said, "This guy is not a Christian, he's not interested, but he's heard that there are some very attractive young women on this course, and he'd come to have a look around. He's only going to stay for the talk; he won't stay for the small group."


During the coffee break, I introduced him to one of the young women on the course, and he changed his mind, and he decided he would stay for the small group after all, joined her small group. He came to faith; he encountered Jesus. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He married my wife Pippa's younger sister. So, he’s now my brother-in-law. Matthew was the first. On the next course, he brought his sister, and several of his friends came to the carol service that we run and came onto the course. I had a group made up of almost entirely of people outside of the church. All of them, pretty much all of them came to faith in Jesus, were filled with the Holy Spirit, and went on to leadership positions in the church. None of them were full-time ordained ministers, but all of them have been involved in ministry.


We had a 25-year reunion, and it was an amazing time together hearing what they've done in the last 25 years. So, it was at that point we decided to develop it into a course designed for people outside of the church. So we changed the format of it to make it attractive to people outside of the church. The format now is people come for a meal; they hear a talk. Now, increasingly, they watch a video because we've done a film series called The Alpha Film Series, 20 to 25 minutes with interesting people, scientists, Bear Grylls features in it, various other people who are involved in the workplace in different ways, but their faith makes a difference to them.


People come, and they have a meal, watch the other film series, and then talk and discuss. What we found is there are so many people out there. In fact, everybody is looking for three things. Everyone is looking for purpose, everyone is looking for love, and everyone is looking to belong. I belong to a swimming club here. It's the Serpentine. You would be horrified, Jordan, by the water I swim in compared to the sea in Florida. There's a lot of duck poo, and it's a lake in the middle of London. I love it, and it's beautiful. There are 3000 members of this club. It cost 20 pounds a year, like $25 a year, to be a member.


All those people very few of them are churchgoers. But what I've noticed is that all on the search. Today, I was discussing yoga. They'd been out to India on a search. Sometimes we're discussing mushrooms, magic mushrooms, or lots of things that they're involved in, and they come because of the community there. But all those things are ultimately only fulfilled in a relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, our purpose is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We find love when we know that the Son of God, as St. Paul wrote, “The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.”


When we experience the Holy Spirit, the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. We find belonging in the greatest community on Earth, the Church of Jesus Christ. There's this hunger. That's why Alpha's grown because people come on the course, they encounter Jesus, they're filled with the Holy Spirit, they get excited about their faith, and they invite their friends. It's just a really fun, low-key, non-confrontational way for people to explore the really big questions of life.


[0:11:58] JR: Yes. Listen, there are so many tools out there to help believers share the gospel with their unbelieving friends. But Alpha is, I think, the only tool that I would recommend to our listeners who are seeking to make disciples in the workplace. Because there are a few things, I think make this course unique. I've done this with my neighbors, and our neighborhood. We've done it with our fifth-grade students, actually, the youth version of the course, at a local church.


But I love it because, number one, the content is extremely high-quality, right? Let's face it; most Christian media isn't, doesn't meet that bar. Alpha clears it. Secondly, and you already brought this up. I love how many credible mere Christians you interview in the podcast in the course. Sorry, we've had a lot of them on the podcast. Dr. Francis Collins, a world-class scientist, is a part of the Alpha course. Scott Harrison, founder of Charity Water. One of my favorite nonprofits in the world is a part of the Alpha course. Right?


It's also just – I think, third, just extremely rational. Our listeners work with really, really smart people in the workplace. Alpha helps them articulate the incredibly rational, universal reasons for our faith. Those are just a few of the reasons why I love it and what I think makes the course unique. What else do you think makes this course so impactful, Nicky? You've already alluded to a few things, but what else makes this tool different?


[0:13:30] NG: I think if I'd been writing a sort of course for people outside of the church, I wouldn't have included a weekend on the Holy Spirit or a talk on healing. It's the providence of God that it was there. Because actually, when I read the questionnaires, and I've read now thousands of questionnaires over the last 33 years, so many people say, “Were you Christian when you started the course?” No. “How would you describe yourself now?” Christian. “When and how did the change occur?” When I experienced the love of God, on the Alpha weekend, the Holy Spirit, when we prayed, Come Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit. I felt this love, I felt this peace, I felt this joy. Of course, they're all just different descriptions of the Holy Spirit-filling people.


A session on healing, even 30 years ago, we were slightly nervous, "Oh, goodness, will people be freaked out by the idea of healing?" Now, on this course, everyone was, "When's the healing evening?” It's like – because they're all into healing. They're all into self-healing or healing through, I didn't know, meditation or healing through this. But the supernatural power of God, and now is very attractive to people outside of the church, and the experience of the Holy Spirit, the experience of God's love. And some people want to know, is it true? But many people want to know, does it work? What does it feel like? And of course, also, what is – the other people on the course, it's like – when they come into a course, and the hosts and the helpers are people that they can relate to, normal people, doing a normal job, and they can relate to them. Not people who have all the answers.


Our host this time, in our small group, a lot of them are really struggling. And they're struggling with health issues themselves, or they're struggling in their workplaces. Young people struggling to be entrepreneurs, trying to set up businesses, and facing all the normal problems of life. And they talk very openly; they don't give kind of pat answers to questions. It's just a genuine discussion of what everyone – all the kinds of issues all of us are facing, anxieties, fears, mental health issues, challenges of life, and how within that context, a relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit makes a difference.


[0:15:52] JR: Yes. I am sure some listeners are thinking, okay. I haven't seen this yet. I haven't seen Alpha in actuality, so I would encourage you just go to YouTube and watch. Watch the ‘Who Is Jesus’ video. It's exceptionally well done. Just to get a taste of what Alpha's like. But I think some people are thinking, "Man, do people actually bring their coworkers to this thing? And how does that work? Do you have to run this through a local church? Do you have to start it yourself or find an Alpha group?”


Nicky, talk to the person who's listening who's like, "Okay, I'm interested in potentially inviting my coworkers to this; how do I do that? Can I find an existing meeting? If I start my own, do I have to run it through my local church?" Answer some of those practical questions for us.


[0:16:33] NG: Well, Alpha runs – I'm not sure where all your listeners are, Jordan, but it runs in every country –


[0:16:38] JR: All over the place. All over the world.


[0:16:41] NG: It runs in every country in the world. But if you go to, that's a starting place to find out where Alpha is running in your country. But in the UK, there's one within striking distance of everyone in the country. I'm sure if you live in Tampa, there'll be plenty of churches in Tampa running it. There are lots of churches in Florida running Alpha. Right across the US, you'll be able to find one. Certainly, if you're in Australia, or New Zealand, or South Africa, or pretty much anywhere in the world, actually, you'll be able to find an Alpha course.


Inviting a friend, I think, possibly the best thing is to go as a guest yourself first, and maybe to say to a friend, "Look, I'm going to do this. Do you want to come with me? Just come as a friend." I asked one of the people who I swim with in the mornings. The next thing I knew, her friend came up to me and said, "Could I possibly come as well?" I said, yeah, of course, it's open to everyone. Since then, I've had other people coming up to me and saying, "Would it be all right if I was to come along?" Of course, this is open to everybody. What we've found is people coming creates interest. Husbands are interested in what their wives are doing. Wives are interested in what their husbands are doing. Children are interested in what their parents are doing. Parents are interested in what their children are doing. It kind of spreads.


I have so many conversations to say almost every morning would be an exaggeration, but it's close to that. Somebody now comes up to me and says, "Tell me about Alpha. What is it? I've heard from so and so. Can you explain it to me?” I think, one, it's a bit of a snowball effect. I always say to churches, you need to run the course at least nine times before you'll know whether it works because it's a snowball of people having done it, who then tell their friends, you tell their friends, and it grows like that. You can also run it in the workplace.


[0:18:40] JR: Yes. I was going to ask about that because I think a lot of listeners are like, "All right. Yeah, I know, these two coworkers who I'd love to invite to Alpha, but I'm not sure they're comfortable stepping through the four walls of a church to do this course. Can this be run in the workplace or after work over the course of a couple of beers that – how can that work outside the four walls of the church?


[0:19:00] NG: Alpha runs in lots – The main way it runs is in churches, but it also runs in prisons. I think over 80% of the prisons in the UK have run an Alpha course at some point. It runs in Parliament; it runs in the White House, it runs in all kinds of different situations. It runs in universities, it runs in schools, and it also runs in the workplace. So I haven't been to that many courses in the workplace, but I went to one in Singapore. They run the normal course, the difference is, they did it over lunchtime, and then, while they're eating their lunch, they watch the film series, and then they discuss. You can actually have discussion breaks in the film series. So they do discussion breaks. The other film is about 20 to 25 minutes long. But after every sort of eight minutes, you can have a discussion. So the one I went to, they had eight minutes and then a bit of a discussion. I moved from table to table, and it was fascinating to hear the discussions going on at each of the tables.


They eat the food while they're watching the film, and then they have, I guess, half an hour in total for discussion, and that's a one-hour lunch break. They had a very high retention rate; I think on the course. It had a big impact on people's lives. That's the only one I've been to, but I know of several big companies that run where Alpha is run. I know that it's also been run in Parliament among the Christians there have put on an Alpha course. So it can work in any context.


Jesus looked out at the crowds, and he saw they were harassed and hopeless, like sheep without a shepherd. I think that, as you look around, people in the workplace or in the gym, they may look very successful. But when you get beneath the surface, they may be struggling in their marriage, or with a child, or just with some mental illness, or whatever it is. But there's so much need out there, and Alpha is a place people can come. There’s no judgment. You can say whatever you like. People say things that are quite shocking sometimes. But nobody – everyone just puts an arm around them, and embraces them. It’s a place where people are loved and accepted. There are not many places like that in life where you receive unconditional love, acceptance, and encouragement.


[0:21:31] JR: I think you glossed over this a few minutes ago, but I want to reiterate it because I think it's really important. This is not just you. The course is not just you, a religious professional preaching to these non-believers. I think what makes the course work is that you have so many mere Christians giving a reason for the hope that is within them.


We talked about Dr. Francis Collins who is on it. We talked about Scott Harrison. I'm forgetting some of the other people. Bear Grylls is another great example. I think that's part of what makes us special. You guys have this massive vision for 2033 to make Alpha available to every single human being on the planet. When I read them, like man, we're going to need mere Christians to get involved in this, to hit that goal.


I think it's part of the reason why I love this podcast, and this audience so much. I really believe that mere Christians today working as barristers, working as marketers, whatever, and entrepreneurs are some of the best position people on the planet to make disciples of Jesus Christ in this post-Christian context. What are your thoughts on that? Have you thought about this at all?


[0:22:35] NG: Absolutely. No, I totally agree with you, Jordan. There's a verse in Ephesians, which says that our job, pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles, prophets, et cetera. Our job is to equip the saints, and every follower of Jesus is a saint for the work of ministry. We're on the backline. Pastors are on the backline. Those in the workplace are on the frontline. Our job is to equip the people on the frontline, the doctors, the nurses, the lorry drivers, the mechanics, to equip the saints, equip those people for the work of ministry. Because they're the ministers. You are the ministers. If you are doing a job in the secular workplace, you are a minister of the gospel. You're a servant of Jesus Christ on the frontline.


It's much tougher on the frontline. We who are on the backline have a cushier job compared to you because the frontline can be quite a hostile environment. You may find that you're the only Christian in your workplace. Hopefully, you're not. Hopefully there's a group of you that can encourage one another, pray together, maybe run Alpha together in your workplace. But it's a tough environment. If you're involved in any industry, it's a tough world out there, tough decisions to be made, not easy decisions. If you're in politics, in the arts, or creative industries, there are tough decisions to be taken. What do you do? What do you not do?


You were told not to conform with the pattern of this world. But how do you do that if you're in a workplace where there's something going on that you think shouldn't be going on? These are all very tough things. How do you live as a Christian in a hostile world? But this is the frontline, this is where the battle is fought. This is where the difference is made. It's you inviting your friends. But just being a witness, and a witness is someone who testifies.


When I was a barrister, I used to interview witnesses, and they would give their testimony. That's effectively what you're doing. Not necessarily by the words that you speak, but it may be by your actions, by your love, by your encouragement, by the way that you listen to people. By the way, it's not all about you, it's about them, that you care about them, that you make friends with them, that you don't gossip about people, that you're kind to everyone, that you're the one who does the washing up when everyone else rushes off. That you're the one who shows – that hands out the food first, to help, whatever it is. It’s the little things. People notice. They said, "Why? Why are they like that?" It's their faith that makes a difference. "Oh!"


[0:25:24] JR: The apostle Paul talks about winning the respect of outsiders. That's what you're talking about, right? Like working in such a way with such excellence, and otherworldly love that the world can't help, but ask the question of why are you always the one seeking to give credit rather than take it? Why are you the one always looking out for the advancement of your colleagues rather than your own? Why are you the one working to plus the product and make it better when sales are good and fine?


Those are the questions. Those are the types of questions. And then when they ask the question, man, that's a great opportunity to invite them to something like Alpha. But it's winning the respect of outsiders before. It's not either/or. I think it's an issue of sequence, living out the gospel, living out our witness that we are submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and then boldly proclaiming with our words, the why behind the what and the how of what we do. Amen?


[0:26:23] NG: Yes. Well, the apostle Peter talks about people being won over without words, which is your lifestyle. That, of course, is particularly with where the husband or wife is not a Christian. It's basically saying, live out the Christian faith, rather than – because it's too pressurized. If you have a partner who's not a Christian, a spouse who is not a Christian, it's too pressurized to keep talking about your faith. But you can show the difference Jesus makes, and they will be won over without words.


But he also goes on to say, always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. I think that's what we try to train our hosts and helpers to do. To always treat everyone with gentleness and respect. In fact, when we're training the hosts and the helpers to run off, it's very simple, really. We base it on one verse, Proverbs 20:5, "In the heart of every human being is a deep well, and the wise person draws it out." In other words, every person who comes into Alpha, atheist, Muslim, agnostic, Buddhist, whoever they are, in their heart is a deep well. The task of the host is not to preach at them. The film series or the talks contain the gospel, the good news about Jesus. But in the discussion, we're drawing out from them, we're listening to them.


The first act of love is to listen, and we need to listen before speaking. It's to draw out from them all that is in their hearts, the deep well, that is in every human heart. No one is boring. If we find someone boring, that's our fault. We failed to draw out the deep well that is in that human heart. All we train the hosts and helpers to do is to ask questions that will draw out the deep well, that is in the hearts of the guests, and then they talk among themselves. The discussion doesn't revolve around the host and the helpers. The discussion is a discussion amongst a group of people who very quickly become friends as they talk to one another.


That discussion, it could be – it doesn't matter what direction the discussion goes, as long as people are connecting. What happens is, very quickly, people start to reveal things about what's really going on in their lives, and then there's a real connection. Because we may try and impress people with our strengths, but actually, we connect with people through our vulnerabilities. As each guest becomes vulnerable, the connections are so deep. That’s what brings people back.


[0:29:09] JR: Yes, amen. Very well said. Nicky, we always wrap up every episode with the same three questions. Number one, which books, in general, do you find yourself recommending or gifting most frequently to others? Could be on any topic at all.


[0:29:26] NG: It so depends on what the person is. If you ask me, which one have I given out most? Actually, the book I've given out most is a book by my son called Loved. Just I think a beautiful book on – it's a commentary on Romans, but it's all about love. It's not that sort of, like an academic commentary. He is a pastor. He's a pastor of a church in Brazil. But I love that book. That's a book that – Loved. It’s just called Loved by Jonny Gumbel. It's a book that’s really spoken to me. It's funny, isn't it? It sounds like nepotism to recommend a book by your son. A you asked me, that is the honest answer as I look at my shelves. That's the one I've got lots of to giveaway because I know how much impact it has on people's lives.


[0:30:11] JR: What books have been most transformative for you personally?


[0:30:14] NG: Well, I love the writings of – he's now called Cardinal, but it was Father Raniero Cantalamessa. He's the preacher to the Pope and has been since 1982. For 40 years, he's been the preacher to the Pope. He's a Capuchin monk. Just six months ago – he's nearly 90 now. Six months ago, the pope asked to make him a Cardinal. He said, he would accept it only on condition he could continue to wear his monk's habit because he didn't want to wear any sort of fancy red outfits. But he's the most wonderful man. His books are so beautiful. My favorite book of his is called Come, Creator Spirit. It's a book all about the Holy Spirit.


In 1977, he went to a conference in, I think it was in Kansas City, where there were 20,000 Catholics and 20,000 other Christians. It was a conference on the Holy Spirit. There was a neon sign over the conference, which said, Jesus is Lord. He was prayed for by a Protestant to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit filled him and he found himself speaking in a manner like speaking in tongues. At the end of this conference, 40,000 people knelt in repentance for the disunity in the body of Christ. He said, that to him was a picture of what real unity is about, 40,000 Christians kneeling in repentance, under the Lordship of Jesus.


He was an academic, he was a professor of theology at the university. There's very rarely a quote, from beyond the first four centuries, but it's the church fathers who he's an expert in. Anyway, if you want books that feed your soul, and your heart and give you a love for Jesus, his books. Then, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin. I didn't really – he's known in –


[0:32:09] JR: Yes, love Lesslie Newbigin.


[0:32:11] NG: I love his books. Tim Keller, I love. I thought Tim was an absolutely wonderful man and a good friend in the end to us. But towards the end of his life, we got to know him, and he came to preach at HTB, his writings, he writes beautifully.


[0:32:29] JR: I love those answers. Hey, Nicky, who would you want to hear on this podcast? It's very rare that we have a pastor or religious professional on the show. Most of our guests are mere Christians just talking about how the gospel influences the work they do in the world. Who fits that mold that you'd be interested in hearing talk about how the gospel shapes the work they do?


[0:32:51] NG: Well, if you can get them onto your pod – maybe you've had Francis Collins, have you on the podcast?


[0:32:56] JR: I have, yes. Yes.


[0:32:58] NG: I'm a great admirer of Francis Collins. I think Bear Grylls is hard to get hold of.


[0:33:00] JR: I don't think anyone's ever recommended Bear, but that's – yeah, he'd be an amazing guest.


[0:33:07] NG: He would be an amazing person if you can get him, but he's very hard to get hold of. I think David Oyelowo is brilliant. Do you know David Oyelowo, the actor? He played Martin Luther King.


[0:33:18] JR: Okay, yes.


[0:33:19] NG: In Selma. He's a brilliant actor, David Oyelowo. He's a wonderful actor. Again, they're hard to get hold of, these people.


[0:33:26] JR: Yes, yes. No, but hey, we have, by God's grace, gotten a hold of really hard people.


[0:33:30] NG: If you know the Bible in One Year, I do the – him and I do a commentary on the Bible each day. The Bible in One Year, the readings are done by David Suchet, who's a phenomenal actor who became a Christian through reading the New Testament. Again, from a Jewish background. He's a fascinating person to talk to.


[0:33:48] JR: Oh, interesting. I'll check him out. We'll track these guys down. Those are great. Those are great names. Hey, Nicky, you're talking to this global audience of mere Christians, very diverse vocationally. What's one thing you want to leave them or reiterate to them before we sign off?


[0:34:02] NG: Jesus said, I came that you might have life and have it in all its fullness, and there's no other. But Jesus is the way. He said, I am the way, the way to God, I am the truth. I didn't have the truth, nobody has the truth except for Jesus. But the closer we are to Jesus, the closer we'll be to the truth. And I'm the life, a life in all its fullness or we can – so often, we search for life in the wrong places. Jesus said I am the life. I would say, fix your eyes on Jesus as the writer of Hebrews says, because resilience is so needed at this time. There are so many challenges in life. There are so many storms. We've had COVID. Now, we've got a financial crisis, there are mental health challenges, all these things.


The rite of Hebrew says, fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Run the race with perseverance, with your eyes fixed on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. No one needs more resilience than if you have to go through crucifixion, and Jesus endured the cross. The writer of Hebrews says, "If you fix your eyes on Him, you will not grow weary and lose heart." Jesus is all I would say. Fix your eyes on Jesus.


[0:35:30] JR: Amen. Nicky, I want to commend you for the extraordinary work you do every day for the glory of God and the good of others, for giving us this phenomenal tool. The best tool I've found for sharing the gospel with the lost people that we work with in a non-offensive, very easy way. Guys, this episode sounded like a giant ad for Alpha, and I swear, I'm not being paid a dime by anybody for it. I'm just a superfan and it is my absolute number one recommended resource for you to share the gospel with those that you work with. You can learn more at or you can find an Alpha course that's already running, or start your own as we talked about on the podcast. Nicky, thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us today.


[0:36:15] NG: It's great to be with you. I really enjoyed talking with you, Jordan. Thank you.


[0:36:20] JR: I said it 10 times in the episode, I'm going to say it again. Seriously, go to Find a group and invite a coworker. Listen, I talked so much on this podcast about how our work matters beyond sharing the gospel with our coworkers and is 100% gloriously true. But clearly, the great commission is a non-optional command for every single follower of Jesus. Get engaged, embrace your role in the first commission we see in Genesis 1, to fill the earth with good things, and make it more useful for other human beings’ benefit and enjoyment. As you're going about that work, embrace the great commission to make disciples of all nations right where you are, bringing your friends into an Alpha course, or whatever tool you're going to use to share the hope that is within you guys. Thank you so much for listening. I'll see you next week.