|A reply from Mike & Irene Rietta s
in response to my mailing them about running the ALPHA COURSE
There is no doubt that if Alpha is run
the way that it is suppose to, it is a lot
of work. Besides the expected work
in running any ministry, I would say
the biggest demands are in the areas of:
1. Providing a supper each week.
2. Arranging a retreat for each course
3. Training a team to run the course
with the excellence that it deserves.
People who run Alpha sometimes try to
cut corners and eliminate elements such
as the dinners or retreat. This really strips
out some of the most important ingredients
that make Alpha successful. They are also
offering a program is not really Alpha anymore.
With that said, Alpha is an amazing program.
It is aspects such as the dinner that help to
draw people and create an excellent "bonding"
time and relaxed atmosphere.
The retreat is also a special time when some
of the greatest work of God is done.
Alpha is also a recognized course all over the
world that when people considering taking
the course research it, they will realize that
Alpha is cross denominational, proven and well
Alpha in my opinion is wonderful opportunity
to reach people outside the church. It is designed
very much to be seeker sensitive
and relevant to those who are not yet Christians.
If I were a pastor, I would use Alpha as my main
evangelism tool and would realize that though
it is a lot of work, it is highly effective and one
of the very best strategies for church growth.
My wife and I have seen wonderful results in the
eight years we have run the course.
Besides the first time commitments and
spiritual growth in young Christians, we have
seen countless friendships born where we see
many people sitting together on Sundays that went
through Alpha together. As I'm sure you are aware,
friendships are a hugh component of keeping people
in church. Alpha helps bring strangers into the church,
get them to make friends in a non threatening
environment and then keep them in church
because of the friendship and work that God
began in Alpha. It is brilliant and glory to God for it.
If you consider running Alpha here are some tips.
1. Go to an Alpha training conferrence in
your area. Contact local leaders in your area
and visit an existing course if you can.
2. Get a team to run it who understand how
to connect with people outside the church
and understand what it means to be seeker sensitive!
3. Do not make Alpha a program targeting established
Christians in your church as they can sometimes intimidate the
non-Christians that you want to draw and keep in
4. Do not cut corners but "follow the Alpha recipe"
as it is proven and works
5. Try to have your church leaders to catch the vision
and realize the amazing potential that Alpha has
for evangelism and church growth. Try to get
the Senior Pastor fully behind it.
6. Be prepared to invest some budget in running
the course properly. Note: we did take offerings
for the dinner each week and tried to keep the
costs of the retreat to about $60-70 per person
with guests paying their own way.
We did sponsor or partly sponsor people with
financial challenges. We also subsidized the
cost for our team members since they went
on three of our retreats a year.
7. Pray of course as you would with any ministry.
The more the prayer, the greater the results.
8. As an additional thought to point one, you may do
better running Alpha with a team of excited New/younger
Christians who can still "connect" with people
from outside the church. Invite people who went through
an Alpha to help on the next one.
9. You may wish to not have worship the first
few evenings to not frighten anyone away and then
introduce it slowly after that. More songs "about"
God at the beginning then "to" God.
I know this takes discipline as I lead worship myself.
10. If you can only go away for a day and no over-night
it is better than not having a retreat. If your retreat
is shorter than cut down the content so the day is
We made the retreats adults only so that parents could
have the day to themselves and not be distracted
with child care.
Make the retreats as fun as possible! Games, sports,
11. And of course take advantage of the great jokes
on our website. People always looked forward to
the joke time in our courses.
Our guiding principle was to not do anything on
week one that would scare anyone away - so that
they would return on week 2. The goal was similar
each week so they would keep coming back
until they would relax enough to lower their guards
and allow us/God in. If they returned enough, we
trusted that they would taste and see that the Lord
People who went through our Alpha courses wanted to come
back again so we allowed them if they came back
as helpers. We eventually developed an Alpha 2 and 3
with deeper studies based on other Alpha study courses.
We however kept Alpha 1,2 & 3 together during
the dinner, worship, joke time.
Sorry, I seemed to have written a little book here.
Hope this helps.
Do I recommend Alpha...without a doubt.
Please don't hesitate to contact us again if
there is anything else we can help you with.
We can give you some ideas for promotion
Please do let us know if you do decide to run
Alpha and how it goes.
Mike & Irene Rietta