Partnering with Alpha to help you share your faith
Mark Greenwood, together with Alpha UK's Alex Wood and Marie Aitken, share how Alpha is partnering with Elim to help resource our churches with sharing the good news of Jesus.
MARK: Alex, tell us a little bit about how Alpha's been working, especially during the lockdown.
ALEX: It's been amazing actually. In our church here when lockdown struck my first reaction was thinking everything's gonna close. We won't be running Alpha anymore, but actually, we pivoted quite quickly and started running Alpha online. And then really quickly, much more than I had imagined, churches started running Alpha online and what was a huge surprise was it really worked.
And then throughout the lockdown, we saw churches running more courses than they'd ever run before. So we had a greater number of Alpha courses, a greater number of people doing Alpha than we ever had before in 2020.
And we've got these amazing stories of people who never would have walked through the doors of a church coming in and doing Alpha online. They never would have dreamt of going to a church building. So it's really really exciting and we've seen real growth in that area. And I don't think it's finished.
I think beyond the pandemic there's still an opportunity to reach people in a different way with Alpha online.
MARK: Now you kind of see it from two perspectives, because you've got the local church perspective, but of course, you head up Alpha UK. Tell us a little bit about what it means to head up Alpha UK and what you've observed and does that reflect does that mirror what you've seen locally in your own church too?
ALEX: Well Alpha UK exists to equip the local church to run Alpha and we are here to help - if that's training resources and marketing materials. So our teamwork across the UK equipped churches to run Alpha and we really saw that churches learnt how to run Alpha online.
And that is true the picture. What we saw nationally was more people than ever doing Alpha. More churches running Alpha and more churches running Alpha regularly as well, which seemed to make a huge difference.
And that's what we saw here in our local church. We ran Alpha online for the first time ever in March 2020. We took our Alpha course online. I invited my cousin who lives up in the Midlands and I've been thinking about trying to get him on Alpha for ages, but he just wouldn't go because I don't know anyone who lives near him.
I couldn't get him through a church door. And I invited him. He did Alpha. Did the whole course and moved much closer to Jesus. He began to be much more open than he ever would have before. And there were also a couple of other friends that I was able to invite.
So actually in terms of my personal evangelism, it was really exciting to be able to invite people all over again.
But we saw that everywhere people just invited people that never would have come before, so yeah, it's been a really exciting season.
MARK: I think we were all in this incredible learning curve together because Alpha hadn't done much online. When we started doing our online Alpha, you were only a few months ahead of us. It's just this crazy season and talk about steep learning curves!
But it was amazing - it really was. Just incredible to see the impact Alpha had on the lives of many, many people and kind of for us.
Marie, seeing the success of Elim doing Alpha Together and along with you at Alpha, we worked very closely in that time, in a very short space of time.
Talk about putting the foot down to full throttle! You know we were really genuinely thrilled, encouraged and grateful for the help that Alpha brought to us with training days and all sorts of stuff.
And now we're forming a partnership!
MARIE: We are!
MARK: You do know this, don't you?
MARIE: I really do! We just finalised it - it's hot off the press!
MARK: So tell us a little bit about that. What does that look like?
MARIE: You guys inspired us to really think about this model. And I wrote in your magazine not that long ago, and I basically said you know, this is something that I kind of want us to pick up across the whole of the UK.
Working on a national level with ministries and teams in this way, because what we've dreamed and schemed about - that's a good word to use - is just this closer resourcing.
You know, of churches all across the UK and as a team working on the front line we go and have an awful lot of coffee with church leaders. I will be transferring to decaf at some point in 2022, but we talk one-on-one with churches all the time.
And it gets us somewhere, but we want to see a huge transformation. You know, we dream bigger Alpha we want to see a whole nation come to know Jesus absolutely.
We want to see churches in revival mode and that's not going to happen if I'm sat every day, every hour, having one-to-one conversations.
It happens when whole networks and whole denominations grasp the vision and run with it. And this is why it's kind of piloting in a sense. I'm so glad you guys are doing it with us because it's a little bit of a friendship to start with.
We will help resource you guys for the next three years in any way you need. You know if your churches need Alpha to come and do a day with their teams, to do something around the Holy Spirit weekend or day, we're there.
We want to see you guys succeed and we want to see the UK come to know Jesus. So it's just a perfect friendship as far as I'm concerned.
MARK: It really is. So make sure - placeholder in your diary - for September 2022.
We're gonna launch Alpha. We want to invite every single Elim church to run Alpha at least once over the next three years. If we could do that would be an incredible journey for us to go on. Not just so we can say 'hey look - we ran Alpha in every Elim Church', but just think of the potential as to how many people we can reach with the gospel and help on their 'little yes' journey.
So we'll let you know about loads and loads of resources. You'll see Alex and Marie at various times. I will get them to do various videos and cheering ons.
They don't know about that yet, but well they do know about it now, but we'll get loads of resources. The Alpha shop is going to be available from around July and then we'll launch in September.
Don't wait till then if you want an Alpha before then we want to facilitate that too but we're really excited to go and tell as many people about Jesus. So keep yourself in the loop and we'll send out loads of information. Sign up for our free Alpha Together email list at elim.org.uk/alphatogether.
Thank you so much Marie and Alex for taking this time and even buying coffee before we shot. It's brilliant!
Watch the full interview with Alex and Marie
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