The first few weeks of Alpha introduce guests to Jesus, the foundation of our faith. It’s also a time to set in place the foundation for best practices and practicalities which set the tone for the rest of your Alpha term. Here are some top tips gathered from various leaders that can help refine your Alpha:
1 Watch your language:
No, not just swearing or cursing. Quite the opposite! Be careful not to use common Christian phrases (Christianese) that might seem bizarre to a non-churchgoing guest. Phrases such as “washed in the Spirit” or “gather in fellowship” might cause an Alpha guest to lunge for the nearest exit. Be aware of your choice of words and keep it simple.
2 Be intentional about team building:
Get into the practice of meeting with your team for at least 15 minutes before and after the Alpha meeting – to pray, share an encouraging story or Scripture verse, and to allow your team to ask questions, share concerns and prayer requests.
3 Keep meal conversation casual:
Some Alphas host a full meal deal with lunch or dinner, others are run on the weekends and provide breakfast or lunch instead. Whatever the mealtime, avoid religious topics. This is a time to get to know people and their interests. Initiate conversation by recounting a humourous experience that recently occurred. “A funny thing happened to me on the way to the …” still works!
4 Reserve your Alpha weekend away venue:
Have you considered an Alpha weekend? A weekend away is a great way to build strong relationships with others. Organising a venue is best done as soon as possible. Decide if a Friday night and all day Saturday works best for your group or 1 day only. Consider joining with another local church and combine your Alpha groups for the weekend away. Sharing leadership, resources and financial costs benefits both churches!
5 Be flexible arranging small groups:
Depending on each Alpha, explain to guests that groups might be shuffled around to accommodate everyone, but they will remain the same after Week 3 (for the usual 10-week Alpha). Ask your Small Group Hosts if any guests might be better suited in another group (some might have special needs, etc). If new guests come after Week 3, give them information about the next Alpha and invite them to come back. Also refer them to the Alpha Finder to find another course in their community.