Friday, February 23, 2007

They Call me....Alpha Dude!

Hey dudes! How are you all doin'? My name is ALPHA DUDE! But you can call me…uh…….ALPHA DUDE!

In case anyone was wondering (or if you weren’t) I thought I’d explain why I often go by the name Alpha Dude. Mostly because I Googled up the name Alpha Dude and I didn’t want anyone to think I was one of those macho, grunting, snorting, full-of-himself alpha-male boneheads. Or a computer geek.

I attend Northview Christian Life Church in Carmel, Indiana. One of the major programs we have there to reach people and help them understand more about God, Jesus, the Bible and stuff like that, is the Alpha Course. The kid’s version is called Alpha Sprouts.

I work with some other awesome, cool adult type dudes and dudettes in the ALPHA SPROUTS program. The ALPHA SPROUTS are what we call the kids of those adults that are attending the Alpha Course. Alpha Sprouts is not babysitting. We present to the children the same lesson that their parents are learning, we just bring it down to the children’s level so they can understand. As someone once said, “We put the cookies on the lower shelf so the Sprouts can reach them”.

The best part about being Alpha Dude is the people. It is a fun job that doesn’t involve any heavy lifting and I get to have a lot of fun. But it is mostly about people, both children and adults alike.

Who is ALPHA DUDE?

ALPHA DUDE is...well, he's a "dude". He has a laid-back, West-Coast surfer-boy dialect and personality. He dresses in jeans, a "Surfer Dude" T-shirt covered by an un-buttoned Hawaiian-style shirt, and sometimes a trendy hat. With each entrance, ALPHA DUDE brings along some kind of prop as both a conversation piece and a demonstrative object.

Each ALPHA DUDE interactive skit follows the same basic format. ALPHA DUDE enters, with prop. He involves the audience. He covers the same material the adults will hear, in an abbreviated and age-appropriate fashion. Finally, he summarizes and leads a closing prayer before exiting.

Above all, ALPHA DUDE loves Jesus! He is smart, yet silly. Funny, yet faithful. And, he will leave all the ALPHA SPROUTS with a simple and clear understanding of what it means to be a young faithful Christian and encourages them to share the love of Jesus with everyone they know.

The Sprouts learn about Jesus, the Bible, how to beat the bad little red dude, and how to pray. Also, Alpha Dude really loves those Sprouts. They are so smart and they learn quickly.

Being Alpha Dude, I get to have fun, act silly and tell jokes. I will tell jokes to anyone who will listen. I like to make people laugh, or at least smile. I don’t care if people are laughing with me or at me. As long as they are laughing, that means they are experiencing at least the slightest bit of joy, even if only for a moment. I know it isn’t my job to make people happy, but I try to at least make them feel good while I have the chance. I also get to use words like Dude, Gnarly, Righteous, Bogus and Awesome!

I have served in this capacity since Fall 2005, and each time has been a real blessing. (They keep asking me back to do it again!) I was a bit nervous at first, not too sure about what to expect. My buddy Ernest had been the first Alpha Dude and the kids all loved him. I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to a new Alpha Dude, even though Ernest had only served as Alpha Dude for one Alpha course, but God reminded us all that He is indeed in control of everything and the entire program proceeded just as He planned. Go figure, huh? (They say that Ernest was Alpha Dude 1.0, but I’m not tall enough to be called Alpha Dude 2.0, so they refer to me as Alpha Dude 1.5. Can’t you just feel the love?).


Even though each course is exactly the same (same materials, same basic script/outline), the people involved and the children reached are different.

Alpha Dude enters the room with the same lesson plan, and the same props (and that same old shirt!), each and every course. However, not once has it ever become monotonous, mundane or "old hat". The reason for this is that each child is different and unique in their own special way. I am so very grateful for the lessons God allows me to learn with each group of Alpha Sprouts that passes through the course.

As I was thinking back on the fun we have during each course (the Adults as well as the kids), I am reminded of an old story. I'm sure you have heard it before:
A youth pastor once addressed a children's Sunday School class, and tried to share a story with them.
He asked the children to tell him what kind of animal he was talking about. "It is a furry little creature that lives in trees, is light brown and has a long bushy tail."
Silence. No one dared to answer or make eye contact with the pastor.
He continued, "This critter gathers nuts for the winter and climbs trees."
Still no answer.
Finally, the pastor called on one particular little boy who had made the mistake of making eye contact with the pastor. "Do you know what little forest creature I'm talking about?"
Sheepishly and nervously, the little boy answered, "Well, I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!"

The Alpha Sprouts that I get to interact with are incredibly smart. And they catch on real quick. However, some of them seem to be a couple of steps ahead of me in the lesson. I like to ask the Sprouts a lot of questions to keep them involved and also to get an idea as to what they may be thinking about or getting from each week's lesson. One little girl in particular, when a question is asked, raises her hand as high as she can (straight up towards heaven), with a huge smile and a joy and excitement in her eyes, her answer is always the same - "God and Jesus!" And you know something? She's right! That's what each week's lesson is really all about, isn't it?

Okay, so I may be over-simplifying things a little bit, but we are here to learn (teach) about God and His love for us and His plan for our lives, and what amazing things He has done for us so we can know Him. No matter what the question may be - Jesus really is the answer. Every time.

The kids have all been terrific. There is something to be learned from each one of them. There was young fellow, in particular, who, at the beginning of one course, sat with his arms crossed, his head down, a scowl on his face, and his voice angrily responded with “No. I am not happy to be here. I am not having a good time.” Etc…. Let’s face it. This kid was NOT in a good mood! I felt something pushing me to involve him so I included this Sprout in the lesson and by the second meeting, he was happy, joyful and quite pleasant. I had dinner the following Monday night with this boy’s Dad. (That’s a God thing! Especially since I didn’t know who his Dad was!) His Dad asked how he was doing, so I told him that his son is a joy to have in the group. And he is! It is also worth noting that soon after the end of that course, I had the privilege of cheering this boy on as he got baptized during a Wednesday Night Baptism Service. God is so Awesome!

There’s a little girl, who just turned 3, who has a smile as big as Texas. Always smiling, always happy, always joyful to learn more about Jesus. Her mother recently shared with me how this little girl said “grace” for the first time soon after the lesson on prayer. This mom described how her daughter did it and what she said and it was exactly as we did it in Sprouts! How cool is that?! This little jewel always gives Alpha Dude a big hug every week.

These are just few stories from the life of Alpha Dude from the last few Alpha Courses. My only hope is that those little Sprouts have learned to love Jesus more than anything.

Jesus told us to love those children because the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of such as them. He told us to have a child-like faith and to love others unconditionally, just as children do and just as Jesus does. I love spending time with the Alpha Sprouts. I learn so much from them, and they have helped strengthen my own walk with Christ.

Wow. That’s how I want to be. A child unto the King. I am nothing more than an older Alpha Sprout. (I was going to say a big Alpha Sprout, but that term just won’t fly around here!)

We can learn a lot from those kids. Love Jesus. Read your Bible. Share Christ with everyone you meet. And Pray. Remember: those kids are watching us – let’s do it right.

Those kids are really totally smart. There is much to be learned from them. Thanks to God for allowing me that "awesome" blessing.

Blessings to you.
Yours in Christ (because Jesus is the answer),

Scott Trammell (Alpha Dude)

4 comments:

my4kids said...

That sounds like a great class! I love when we get classes together like that that involve the kids.

Ellie said...

Our church has a program called Faith Weavers and the kids all seem to enjoy it immensely. You are doing a great work, who knows how many lives will be transformed one day because of the ground work you are helping to build in each child's life.

Blessings,

Ellie

HeiressChild said...

alpha dude, you always have a great testimony. this is so beautiful. i used to teach children in the church too, and they are such a joy. a few of them are adults now with their own families. it's been amazing to watch them grow in the Word, and now they're teaching their children.

HeiressChild said...

oh yeah, i forgot, thanx for explaining "alpha dude 1.5." that's neat.