“Millions of people have tried Alpha in 169 countries, and it has been translated into 112 different languages. Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation (Alphausa.org).” The basic liturgy of an Alpha evening is to discuss life over a meal for about forty-five minutes to an hour, watch a twenty-five-minute video preceded by a joke and then discuss the video for another half hour.
When we moved to Chula Vista, we knew we would run an Alpha in our home, so from the get go, we began engaging our neighbors. The fruit of Alpha is only as good as your relationships with the people you want to invite – those who know you, and who trust you. That is one of the most challenging and exciting things about being a Christian, is making friends with non-believers.
But why start a church plant with an Alpha? One of the strengths of the Alpha program is that it creates the capacity to have a room full of non-believers thinking about important questions in a low-pressure way. Also, this program powerfully lays out the basics of Christianity in a compelling and winsome way, and in my experience, at least one person has always come to faith through providing this ministry. Furthermore, the fundamental strength of Alpha is found in the way it provides a place of belonging as a foundation for people to believe. We do not require people to believe before we serve them a hot meal and a yummy desert. During the course of the weeks, you also transition from not praying before the meal, to praying, and also introducing music and worship as well. By the end of the 10 or 11 weeks, you have just started a worshipping community!
In the South Bay, we invited as many people we knew as possible. Some of them were our neighbors and others were people referred to us by friends. One attender got introduced through a flier I left at a Laundromat! After a couple of weeks of offering invitations, we sat in our home on the first night with 21 people watching a video about Jesus! What a success! Each week, we have had about 12-15 people on average all learning and hearing about Jesus through 25-minute videos followed by a discussion. The food also draws many people, and is the main expense and time commitment to facilitating this ministry. We have had homeless people come, ex-drug addicts, seasoned Christians and non-believers. One family has really met Jesus and been changed so much in the past 8 weeks! We even began a men’s bible study already because of this powerful change in this families life that meets at 5am on Monday morning. We just had a day retreat that was about the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and many people were touched. God has been working powerfully and so many people from our community have contributed to the food needs as well. Please keep this newly formed community in your prayers!