One of the common questions people ask is what to do after Alpha, and what they mean is, how can we help guests plug into the life of the church?
For many guests, the relationships formed within small groups are strong and they want to maintain a connection. Below are some suggestions and ideas on how to continue encouraging guests on their faith journey and in their relationship with the local church. You might want to share some of these options with your team and guests at your last Alpha session.
In the last Alpha session, the host and helper can encourage the group to exchange contact information if they haven’t already. Some groups will create WhatsApp groups to stay in touch because it’s a casual way to catch up with people and arrange hangouts.
Plan a Reunion
Another way a small group can stay connected after Alpha is by planning a reunion. Nicky and Pippa Gumbel, pioneers of the Alpha course, have served as hosts or helpers at over 80 Alphas. They always try to do some sort of follow up with guests in their group. Pippa says, “We try to do a reunion supper after every course by having them all back for supper at our house. We do it just to see how they’ve got on, and to help them to work out where they’re going to go.”
If you’ve run Alpha online and people are still unable to meet in person, you could plan an online games night or other fun reunion activity that can be done on apps like Zoom.
Invite Guests to Church
The host and helper could also invite their small group to meet at an upcoming Sunday service so that the group can attend church altogether. This makes it less intimidating if the guests are not regular church attenders. It’s more likely that guests will develop the habit of coming to church on Sundays if they have friends they look forward to seeing.
Now that many churches are doing services online you can encourage your small group to participate by watching the service online and then chat about it together afterwards. This is an amazing way for them to get an idea of what being a part of the church is like.
Another idea is to have a pastor of your church join one of the last few Alpha sessions and introduce themselves to guests. They can explain what a typical Sunday morning looks like and extend a personal invitation to guests.
Invite Guests to Help on the Next Alpha
Consider inviting guests to help at the next Alpha. This is a sustainable way to build your Alpha team and it’s also a great way to support guests in their faith journey. Think about a guest’s individual gifts and help them identify ways to be involved. Encourage them to think of people they know who may be interested in participating in your next Alpha.
Invite Guests to a Small Group
If guests are interested in exploring more about the Christian faith, help them to get connected in a small group at your church. This is most effective if they can go to the same small group as their Alpha host or with someone else who was on the course with them. As more people are added, the group can divide as needed.
There are other resources that can contribute to the ongoing spiritual growth of guests.
Bible in One Year
The Bible in One Year is a free Bible reading app with a daily commentary by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. Since its development in 2009, the app has had over a million unique downloads and subscriptions in close to 200 countries. It can be downloaded for free on the App Store and Google Play. https://www.bibleinoneyear.org
The Marriage Courses
The Marriage Course and The Marriage Preparation Course act as a bridge between the church and the local community by recognizing the need to go beyond the social as well as physical walls of the church to help couples with their relationships. Often, guests who attend Alpha will then attend The Marriage Course with their spouse or vice versa, because running one can help raise the profile of the other.
As people encounter Jesus for the first time or in a fresh way during Alpha, they’re usually eager to continue their faith journey. It’s so important that guests know about the next steps they can take to connect with Christian community and continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus. This is also why, in the leader and team training, we emphasize the value of relationship— we know that it’s a personal invitation that really encourages guests to get connected to the life of the church.