We launched our Spring Semester Alpha Course at Ebenezers Coffeehouse last night. It was amazing! I am a big believer in Alpha, and it is the launching pad for our Discipleship Map. We encourage every NCCer to go through Alpha. We have found it to be valuable for the most sincere seekers to the most hostile cynics to the most mature disciples.
The Alpha Course, developed by Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton, is a practical introduction to the Christian faith.
Here is how it works in general: Alpha is hospitality on steroids. It's all about loving people into the Kingdom. It all starts with a big kickoff event and a video of Nicky teaching on Christianity: Boring, Untrue, or Irrelevant? Then, guests are invited to sign up to be a part of the 10-week course. Each week, the participants will be served dinner, hear a talk on some aspect of Christianity (Who is Jesus? What about the Bible? etc), and then break up into small groups to discuss. Some churches get their pastors to do the talks live. We have chosen to stick with the videos for now because Nicky is such a great communicator. About 8 weeks into the course, the participants attend a "day away" (also known as the Holy Spirit Retreat) where they learn about the role and function of the Holy Spirit. It's good stuff.
At this week's Kickoff, we had 77 guests. Of those, 71 signed up to return for the course. Four people crossed the line of faith. Our worship band played "Where the Streets Have No Name." We catered in some great Italian food.
Here are some ways it works for us:
- Front door to the church- We encourage new NCCers to go to Alpha. It's a great way to meet other NCCers and to get plugged in.
- Nursery of the church- People who ask for information on following Christ are guided towards Alpha to get their questions answered. People who cross the line of faith or go public with their faith are guided towards Alpha to put down some roots and get connected to other believers.
- Connecting Place- since Alpha is so focused on hospitality and community-building, it is a great place for people to get connected. That's why we encourage all new NCCers to start with Alpha, regardless of their spiritual maturity.
- Leadership Launching Pad- we have discovered that Alpha is a great way to get people involved in leadership at NCC. We have a couple dozen people on our Alpha leadership team. With the exception of a few of those people, most of those folks were not plugged into leadership, ministry, or small groups before Alpha. Now they are leaders in the church!