I spent last week with Nicky Gumbel, the staff of Holy Trinity Brompton and the Alpha USA team. It was a timely visit as we launch the Alpha Course at Mission Church for the very first time next week. I don’t believe I have ever recommended something without first experiencing it for myself within my own church. But my week in London was literally called “Experience Alpha,” and I did just that.
I want to share 4 ways I believe Alpha will affect the culture of my church, and in doing so, I trust you will be encouraged to experience Alpha in your own church.
The Culture of Hospitality
One of the pillars of Alpha is a simple meal. Why is this so powerful? Because sharing a meal acknowledges a common need we all share: to be fed and nourished. Eating a meal together levels the playing field and builds trust without even saying a word. On Sundays, we are a very welcoming church. And while Alpha will make us even more welcoming, I believe Alpha will impact the tables within our homes. It will cause our doors to be open to more people to simply walk in and eat at our table.
The Culture of Listening
Alpha will help our church and our people ask better questions. It will help us grow in knowledge and understanding of the people God has called us to love. We will slowly begin to replace assumption with curiosity. On Wednesday January 18th, 2017, Nicky Gumbel started his 81st consecutive Alpha Course as a Table Helper. Not a Table Host, a Table Helper. He started Alpha, and yet his primary role is to sit there and be quiet. He shared that over the course of 80 courses, he’s never answered a single question. Instead, he answers every question with a question, allowing the Spirit to provide the answer.
The Culture of Empowerment
Alpha will increase the courage of our people to invite. It will provide even more roles to serve and get beyond themselves. It will, one day, provide an opportunity to take Alpha wherever they wish to see more people discover the love of Jesus. It will give them an effective way to evangelize without a dependency on their local church. They can go and be the Church.
The Culture of Dependency
Alpha will, without a doubt, bring a greater acknowledgement for, expectancy of and dependency on the Spirit of God. It will increase your appetite for prayer. The prayer of our church since we were only 19 people has been “Not by might, nor by power, but by your Spirit says the Lord Almighty.” At this Alpha Experience, an elderly man approached me and asked if he could pray for me. I said “sure”. He placed his hand on my heart, paused for what seemed like forever, and then prayed, “Not by might, nor by power, but by your Spirit says the Lord Almighty.” As you can imagine, tears rolled down my face as I felt the flood of the Spirit inviting me toward greater dependency on Him. I am believing this for my church through Alpha.
Our mission is to help people find and follow Christ. This is the #1 reason we are doing Alpha and enough of a reason to do Alpha. But as a leader of this church, I am just as excited and expectant to see Alpha affect the culture of our church.