It’s already March and the nationwide Alpha Easter Invitation is about to begin! There’s nothing more impacting than giving people the opportunity to experience God’s love and find faith in Jesus. It is simply life changing. We’re so excited that you and your church have joined hundreds of other churches to help people explore faith.
By now you should be equipped and ready to run Alpha – this includes obtaining your Alpha resources, getting hold of your promotional materials and facilitating Alpha training with your team. If you feel you’re missing something please contact our office and we are more than happy to help you!
In this article, we want to share ideas about facilitating the Weekend Away or the Day Away. In previous years, Alpha included a full weekend away focusing on the Holy Spirit. However more recently, we’ve found some churches condense the sessions into a single day.
We want to highlight the importance of including these sessions on the Holy Spirit, regards of whether it is over a weekend or a single day. Please do not skip these sessions. Without the Holy Spirit, it is just not Alpha. Alpha is so much more than an intellectual discussion; it’s about providing opportunities for guests to experience God personally through the Holy Spirit. For many guests this is the most transformative moment on Alpha. It is a significant time where their questions change and many guests make a commitment to follow Jesus.
Having a whole weekend to dwell on the Holy Spirit provides the best opportunity for people to fully experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. There is a lot to take in during the Alpha talks so this provides more time and space for the Holy Spirit to move in the life of the guests. If a full weekend is not possible, you can do it as a single day. Whichever you decide, we recommend that you go to a special off site location so it is a highlight of Alpha for your guests.
While it can seem daunting taking guests away from their normal and familiar environment, we are actually taking them away from the distractions of everyday life. People are more focused and open when they have a chance to enjoy a relaxing location with new friends.
Keep in mind, this does not have to be an expensive venue. It could be a campsite in the country or by the sea. It could also be a holiday home through a congregation member. Some Alpha groups have just gone to another church that is a great venue nearby.
Importance of Prayer Ministry
A significant moment in Alpha is after the session ‘How Can I Be Filled with the Spirit?’, as there is an allocated time for prayer ministry. During this time it’s important to create a relaxed and expectant atmosphere that will help people be more open to receiving. Your Alpha team should be fully prepared by having gone through the training session “Prayer Ministry” prior to this prayer ministry time (that includes ministering to each other on the team). This preparation ensures your leaders have completed this training prior to the weekend. The Alpha DVD has this training session included or download it free here to use with your team prior to the weekend/day away, just log in first – http://run.alpha.org.au/#/resource/
How to run the Prayer Ministry Session
The ministry time can be led simply and gently from the front. At the end of the talk the leader should ask everyone to stand and explain that they are going to ask the Holy Spirit to come. Invite the guests to put their hands in front of them as a sign to God that they are willing to receive the gifts that God has for them. The guests will already have looked at the gifts in the small group earlier in the day.
The leader should then pray very simply, keeping their eyes open so they can watch what is happening, something similar to: “Come Holy Spirit. We ask that You would come upon Your people and fill them with Your presence through the Holy Spirit.” Then the leader watches and waits to see what happens. You may see signs that the Holy Spirit is present. Don’t be afraid to wait and don’t be afraid of silence.
When you feel it’s appropriate, you can ask the team to pray for anyone who would like prayer. Explain to the guests that if they wish, someone can come and pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Allow space for people to pray and receive.
There’s no time limit, so continue for as long as you feel is necessary and then ask the worship leader/band to come up and play quietly. This time of ministry will often move naturally into a time of worship. It’s important not to rush this time and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Things To Consider
Preparing for an Alpha Weekend/Day needs to be done in advance but it’s not a difficult process. There are a few things to organise, so here are some things for you to consider:
· Set a date
· Find a venue
· Arrange catering
· Arrange transport
· Discuss how the weekend will be funded
· Decide on speakers
· Inform guests on Alpha ASAP so they can keep the dates free
Suggested Timetable for a Weekend Away:
8.00pm Arrive and settle in
9.00pm Group game and introduction to weekend
9.30am Session 7 - 'Who Is The Holy Spirit?'
10.15am Morning Tea
10.30am Session 8 - 'What does The Holy Spirit Do?'
11.15am Small Group Discussion
Free afternoon - bush walk, games, etc
7.00pm Session 9 - 'How Can I Be Filled With The Spirit'
7.45pm Prayer Ministry - combine groups
10.00am Prayer and share time
10.30am Session 10 - 'How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?’
11.15am Wrap up summary
1.30pm Clean up and leave
Suggested Timetable for the alternative Day Away:
8.30am Guests arrive
8:45am Welcome & icebreaker game
9:10am 'Who Is The Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?’ (Student Alpha video)
9:40am Small group discussion
10.15am Morning Tea
11.00am ‘How Can I Be Filled with The Holy Spirit?' (Student Alpha video)
11.30am Prayer Ministry
2:00pm ‘How Does God Guide Me To Make The Most of the Rest of My Life?’ (Student Alpha video)
2:30pm Small group discussion
3:10pm Afternoon tea & gather together to share experiences
If you have any questions about facilitating Alpha we are here to help so don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do what we can to support you. Join our Facebook page for Alpha leaders where you can ask other leaders around Australia your questions (https://www.facebook.com/groups/runalpha/). Explore the ‘Run’ section of our website which can be accessed by using your login here (http://australia.alpha.org/runresource) for more free resources.