You’ve got the venue. Check. You’ve got the dates in the diary. Check. You’ve got the team trained. Check. You’re ready to go… but the church aren’t as invested as you are. Sound familiar? Here are eleven quick tips for getting your church members behind your course!
1. Lead from the front!
There’s a direct correlation between how committed leadership is and how much the congregation get involved. ‘My learning’s been that if you run Alpha as an add on, you miss out on so much fruit—but people get on board with something when they realise the church is taking it seriously,’ says Jon Lindsay-Scott from Springfield Church, Wallington. While it may not guarantee buy in, if you don’t demonstrate your commitment you won’t get it back.
2. Find a leader who just can’t stop talking about the course
Enthusiasm, much like laughter or the tune of Hey Mickey, is infectious. Finding someone to run Alpha at your church who is irrepressibly enthusiastic will play a big role in recruiting your wider team. This was the experience of Martijn in Oasis Church, Amsterdam with his Alpha leader: ‘he can’t stop talking about it and that makes others want to join the adventure.’
3. Get your congregation to try Alpha
‘If you’re inviting people to something you’ve never done yourself, it’s harder to be enthusiastic about it—and harder to sell it.’ This was Jon’s realisation. His solution was to invite the whole church to try Alpha themselves and to invite their friends too. It worked a treat, with huge buy in from church members and from guests too.
4. Train, train, train!
Take training your team as seriously as you take the course itself! This will help your congregation see from early on how important Alpha is to you. If you run just one training evening, it’s likely that some helpers will be unable to attend—take a leaf out of Jon’s book and try running three, that way your team will be totally equipped and you can be sure that everyone’s participated before kick-off!
5. A church that prays together stays together
It can be difficult for everyone to feel involved with your course. After all there are only so many helpers, cooks and speakers needed to run Alpha, right? Wrong. Prayer is a crucial part to any successful church outreach and it’s a great way to get everyone involved and invested. Try praying together about Alpha at your services, or send out a weekly email with prayer points for your guests.
6. Focus on fun!
It takes a lot of courage for your church members to invite people to explore Christianity and the meaning of life—what’s easier is inviting them to a fun night out which gives just a taste of what Alpha is and how it works! Why not kick off your Alpha with a launch night? This will give the church a social event to invite their friends to without feeling like they need to sell the whole course.
7. Get creative with how you promote Alpha
Be creative with how you tell people about your upcoming course. At St Chads Romiley, Jon made his own mini promo videos featuring clips of local people who had tried Alpha—it might sound complicated but all he used was his iPhone and a computer. And rest assured, creative doesn’t need to mean high tech; you could run a sample event for the church or host social night with a Q&A.
8. Keep former guests involved
Don’t feel like you need to start building your team from scratch every time you run a course—it’s a great idea to invite former guests back as helpers on Alpha. People who have tried Alpha themselves tend to be the most enthusiastic, and this will filter down to the rest of the church! Plus, it’s great for new guests to meet people at Alpha who have been in the same boat as them.
9. Share stories and make it personal
There’s nothing more powerful than hearing first hand stories of people’s experiences of finding faith and what it means to them. Share these stories with your church—and why not get former Alpha guests involved and ask them to share their personal testimony. When your congregation hear the stories of people in your area, the potential for Alpha will really hit home.
10. Wear a bright red jumper...
Hold on! Hold on—we’re going somewhere with this one, we promise. When Jon started to run Alpha he wanted to find a way of keeping Alpha in the minds of the congregation, so every Sunday morning in the build up to Alpha he’d wear the same bright red jumper. Now, it doesn’t have to be a jumper, but a constant reminder can put Alpha front and centre—maybe a pop-up stand would do the trick.
11. Keep everyone in the loop—all the way through the course
It can be easy to talk about Alpha a lot when you’re looking for volunteers, then stop when you have enough. But church engagement is about more than being on team—keep updating your congregation from the front about how Alpha’s going. Martijn sends out a weekly email to the whole church with specific prayer points and an update of how Alpha’s going so far!