When I think of a phrase to describe this last term’s Alpha Course, the one that springs to mind is ‘it has been a real joy!’ Every week we’ve had around 30 people gather on a Wednesday evening for the Alpha sessions comprising of a great home-cooked meal, one of the newly produced Alpha talks, followed by some passionate and enlightening conversation.
Hospitality is a huge part of Alpha and, as usual, home groups and individuals have volunteered to provide delicious meals for our guests. Our Alpha team this term has been staffed from a home group that meets in Margaret Elder’s home, facilitated by Helen Kemp. Each week they have come and set up the space, prayed hard, served the meals, brewed coffee, washed up, participated in the group discussions and packed it all down again at the end of the night. As a church we need to say a huge thank you to the willingness of so many people to be involved in making Alpha a huge success.
As for the changes to Alpha itself, the course has been greatly improved by some brand new talks produced by the Alpha team. These move beyond recordings of talks at HTB in London to fully interactive sessions with interviews, testimonies, and a new set of presenters of the programme interspersed with input from Nicky Gumbel.
Andrew Clark, David Tweedale and Aalbert Mol, a student on placement from All Nations, have facilitated group discussion each session in three small groups. This is the real business of Alpha – people having the opportunity to wrestle with questions about life, and particularly, the Christian faith. Each group, although different in make-up, has reported significant and helpful discussions. There are always, however, one or two who drop out of the course. This is actually a healthy step – it means that people are interacting with the material and recognising they’re not in the place to hear it. We honour that and, right at the beginning of the course, the promise held out is that ‘this is your time, your space, for your questions: if you decide to leave, we won’t chase you for twenty years!’
The weather and church heating did affect something of the schedule but the course ‘comes in to land’ the week before Easter Sunday, and we’re trusting that God will continue to work in the hearts of all who’ve been part of the experience. The hope is to run Alpha again in the autumn for a new cohort. So, perhaps begin thinking now about who you might invite to Alpha!