Just before Easter, we held the final meeting of our current alpha course. We gathered together to celebrate all that God has done in people since we began in mid-February. The strongest emotion felt by many was a clear indication of what God had done in creating a sense of extended family amongst a disparate group of people.
God’s activity during alpha has been incredible and far exceeded both my expectations and those of the alpha team.
In particular, the launch night will remain with me for a long while. Only two weeks before we launched we had only a handful of guests. At a Sunday evening prayer gathering I asked the church to pray that God would double this number, which would take us to just below the mid twenties. Within two weeks we were bursting at the seams. We launched with 26 guests [mathematicians will note that this exceeds the figure we prayed for], which spread us over seven tables!
In fact, I believe that God graciously brought just the number of people that we could handle at the time. There were certain points when we were very stretched for people trained and experienced enough to lead tables. So stretched, in fact, that some of our trainee table leaders were given the unplanned opportunity to lead tables by themselves! God came through yet again and helped them tremendously.
This was one of the biggest courses we’ve ever had and exceeds, by a long way, anything that we have seen in recent years.
By the first week of the course God had actually grown our numbers to 31 guests!
Week by week we had dinner together, explored a subject such as, ‘Who is Jesus?’, ‘Why did He die?’, ‘Why and how do I pray?’ and ‘Who is the Holy Spirit?’, and had time to openly and honestly discuss these subjects.
As is natural for alpha, some of those who began decided that it was not for them and decided not to carry on. But throughout the course our numbers remained strong, and by the time we finished we were seeing a solid core of people each week. Many of those who came decided to follow Jesus, either for the first time or as a re-commitment.
We had the privilege of seeing some of those people baptised on Easter Sunday, and many more are planning on doing this in the near future.
It has been a great joy for me to lead the alpha team once again and see so many of those who completed the course want to carry on meeting together to keep asking questions and grow in their faith.
Alpha takes a tremendous effort on the part of the church to make happen. Although I lead the alpha team it is something that only happens because of a huge number of people who work both behind the scenes and upfront to give sacrificially of their time. Volunteers graciously lead tables, cook, preach, serve food, shop, listen, love, challenge, wash up, clear up, pray, do admin, run presentations and PA, host, clean, invite friends and come each week with them.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make this course such a success.
In Jesus’ well known parable of the sower He talks about the various ‘soils’ people can be at different times and says,
“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
As alpha has now ended please continue to pray for all those who have decided to follow Jesus that they would be good soil, yielding one hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown in them.
We run alpha twice a year, in February and October and our next course will be launching in October 2014.