Alpha report – Week 4
This was a disappointing session at one level with numbers down from 15 to 9. There were good reasons why some couldn’t be there – one was going on maternity and another was visiting a remote site.
However, there was a glitch in setting up our online meeting which meant two or three of our guests may not have received the invitation.
Sadly no-one turned up at all in one of our three groups. One member did manage to get the invitation late on and joined towards the end of the video. As the only guest in that group, the hosts were able to spend time with her and got to know her much better. I am reminded that “our disappointments are God’s appointments”.
Two hosts in other groups shared their stories of coming to faith and there were some open and honest conversations.
One lady said ‘If there’s anything there I want a bit of it .. is this my time?’. To the question ‘How do you feel about placing your trust in God?’ another guest responded ‘I’d like to, but not 100% there yet’.
We continue to thank God for all he is doing, even if some of it doesn’t make sense to us right now!
Alpha report – Week 3
After a drop last week, our numbers went UP this week (from 13 to 15)! The tech went well with no glitches despite internet issues for a number of people in the morning.
Many responded positively to the powerful video and there was much good discussion in each of our groups.
Some found it hard to understand how really awful things could be forgiven like the guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp. They were moved by the story of the violent man, Shane, whose life had been turned round completely.
One lady said ‘I feel I’m getting to the crossroads, I’m almost there’. Another said she found the video ‘quite compelling’. Someone said she had a sense of relief to know God can forgive if she can’t. One guy commented that it was attractive to know if someone had made a mess, it could be wiped out.
Some guests engaged more with their head than their heart. We long for everyone to sense God helping them understand what Jesus’ death can mean for them personally.
One of our leaders reflected: “Our prayers were really answered today – the internet of one of our leaders was really struggling all morning and we had global issues with Microsoft Teams, then after praying before our Alpha online call, the internet suddenly sped up and was amazingly smooth”.
We break for a week for the local elections and meet again on 13 May.
Alpha update – Week 2
Even though we say to potential Alpha guests – ‘Just come along to the first session as a taster’, it is disappointing when numbers drop off after Week 1. We so much want people to stay with the course!
The Week 2 topic was ‘Who is Jesus?’ Our numbers dropped from 19 to 13. A couple of apologies and a few no shows, but we still had some great discussion.
This is what our hosts (group leaders) fed back :
– there was a real safe space in our groups for people to share different opinions to the videos. One lady said she felt enthused by the evidence in the video and was going away with questions and to do more reading.
– in one group there were the following reflective comments: “There’s no middle ground (in terms of who Jesus is) – I don’t know what that means for me”; “There is evidence .. I’ll have to think about it” and “I’m open to persuasion”.
– another group had some very brave personal sharing about who they thought Jesus is, and in answer to the question ‘if you met Jesus what would you do/ say to him?’ , one lady said she would give him the biggest hug and say thank you!
Lots of thoughtful responses to encourage us to keep asking God to do his work.
Alpha update– Week 1
25 guests had signed up for our online Alpha course and 19 turned up to our first session run on ‘Teams’. There was a good atmosphere and people seemed relaxed.
The opening topic was ‘Is there more to life than this?’ We watched a 20 minute video as one large group, then divided into our 3 breakout rooms where we introduced ourselves. We found out how and why guests had come on the course, and asked guests to answer this question: “If it turned out there was a God after all, and you could ask one question, what would it be?”
People opened up quickly about big issues of life and faith in our group. Our co-leader commented …. “it was really interesting to hear different reasons for people coming on alpha, other than the obvious ‘because I was invited’ (which of course highlights the importance of personal invitation) … it surprised me how many people reflected on the past year and how it has made them question more about their wider purpose in life.”
One lady commented how life rushed past so quickly – she couldn’t believe she had got to her age without asking some of life’s big questions.
One of our team received this feedback from someone she had invited:
“It was good. A little scary at first but certainly thought provoking and I am in a really friendly and mixed group, so I will be aiming to stick with it”.
Workmen who had been sawing bricks across the road from one of our leaders just before the start and were causing a deafening noise downed tools for the entire period.
God was truly with us. Next week’s topic – ‘Who is Jesus?’
Today’s the day!
25 people have signed up for online Alpha – a joint initiative of a local authority and a government agency in NW England.
We’ve sensed God’s hand on this since we prayed in our Christian group meeting some 2-3 months back… ‘God, please give us the resources in our group to run online Alpha’. The discussion about the technical challenges continued in the group chat after that meeting. A new member of the group who hadn’t yet been able to make our meetings joined up the chat: ‘What’s the issue and I will help you find a solution’. She happened to be our senior ICT manager!
Our Chief Executive has supported us in his weekly blog. And we’ve been able to post a testimony of someone’s experience of doing Alpha, on yammer (facebook for organisations).
Running Alpha online has enabled us to invite lots of colleagues by email. Some lovely if negative replies. ‘Thanks for getting in touch but Alpha is not for me right now’.
And some surprising yes’s. ‘I put myself down as a Christian on the census, having thought long and hard about it, so maybe deep down I am looking to rekindle my faith and you may have helped fan the flames’.
As we start our course today, we are fervently praying our guests will show up, that they will click that button ‘Join now’.