Monday, August 17, 2009
Bear Grylls Did Alpha… So How’s that Supposed to Make Me Want To?
While I am a big fan of the Alpha Course (Northshore Vineyard is gearing up to run the course in Covington in October) and have certainly seen how it has been a powerful tool for introducing people to Jesus I am a bit puzzled by the newest Alpha promotional video released by Alpha USA—“Bear Grylls Did Alpha”.
The obvious idea behind this marketing campaign is to appeal to public interest in celebrity to make people want to take the Alpha Course. This is quite problematic to me though in light of the evidence that emerged back in 2007 of how many segments of the show Man vs. Wild were not as authentic as the audience was led to believe. In fact if you type in the name “Bear Grylls” on www.youtube.com the first and most played clips which will come up are either about how fake certain aspects of Grylls’ Man vs. Wild show were or of Grylls trying to defend himself against accusations of being a phony, though not very convincingly, in an interview with Dave Letterman. Grylls has what might commonly be referred to as a credibility problem. People don’t trust him. So if people don’t trust him in his regular gig (his field of expertise) then why would they trust him with the weightier issues of faith?
While I am happy that Grylls has gone through the Alpha Course is now a Christ-follower, I can’t see how using his life as a testimony for those seeking answers to faith is going to yield very good results with those outside the faith. It may be exciting for a Christian to know that a celebrity is now a Christian but I don’t think that any of my friends who are not Christians would be encouraged to investigate faith further because a celebrity who is very much linked to faking a whole lot of his show is now a person of faith.
If you’re going to get a testimony from a Christian who is a celebrity why not try someone like Mel Gibson?… oh wait there’s a credibility issue there too… Wait, there's Heidi and Spencer Pratt who claim to be Christians… oh yeah there's the same problem there too… hmmm surely there’s some celebrity out there who is a Christ-follower who still has credibility. Or maybe celebrity and credibility are just not as synonymous as we would like to think. Or maybe, as the Apostle Paul made the case in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, if we are looking to celebrities, to the wealthy and the powerful for examples of faith then perhaps we are looking in the wrong place and should not be too discouraged when examples are few and far between. Perhaps the best examples of changed lives from the Alpha Course are just from regular everyday folks.