Every year Chloe and her church, Cornerstone, go along to Freshers Fayre and invite students to #TryAlpha. But this year, they decided to do something a little different.
What do you do when your university has 'The closest campus to the beach' in the world? Well, you throw a massive beach party, obviously. Oh, and you invite the whole of Swansea too.
Every year, myself and a couple of students at our church attend the Freshers Fayre in Swansea Uni. The purpose behind us being there is to welcome every Swansea uni student to Swansea, from a local church. We are there to meet those who don’t know Jesus and let them know, if ever they were interested, they can come along, ask questions and see what church is really all about.
But this year we wanted to do something different. We wanted to invite students to something huge, something that they could enjoy and meet people at. What did we do? Well, we handed out 10,000 invitations to a beach party!
I had no idea how many people would turn up. I mean how can you prepare the right amount of food for people when you don't know if there will be 10 people or 10,000 coming? We decided not to worry too much about numbers and focus on preparing a fun party that students would want to come to with their friends.
A week before the beach party I met with my student leaders team and we discussed the best way to invite someone to an alpha course. We decided a big announcement may not work as well as a personal invite. That evening, we shared ideas of how to invite people we had just met to Alpha. It was amazing to see the different ways people communicated and the importance of being authentic with everyone. It made us so excited to invite everyone!
Fast forward to the night of the beach party: we had 250 students turn up. We handed out free hot dogs and had a big bonfire with s’mores. There was music, volleyball and football for people to get involved with and socialise with others who were at Swansea uni. our team of student leaders went around every single student who attended and gave a personal invite to the alpha course we were starting the following week.
Everyone had such a good time and got to know so many new people. I don't think they could believe a church had put this event on! Most people's impression of the church was that it's boring and dying out. We wanted to show students the church is alive and they can be part of it. We got to know people and invited them to Alpha so that they could explore faith for themselves.
The week after the party we started Alpha in the pub next to campus. Two of my student leaders head it up each week and they have organised a student team who help them run it. They are using the Alpha Film Series so it’s really easy for them. They turn up, make the most of the curry and pint for £5 deal and then press play.
So far 21 people have had the opportunity to hear about Jesus by coming on Alpha. Each week I'm amazed by the people showing up. I think the launch party was the best thing we've done in terms of inviting people to Alpha. There was no pressure for guests, it was fun and it showed that the church really cares about the local community. If you're a student thinking of running Alpha, I'd encourage you to think of fun ways to invite your uni mates to #TryAlpha.