Adjusting Course: Jubilee Church Does Alpha Differently
Have you ever been through an Alpha course? If so, you know that Alpha is a series of sessions where participants can explore questions about the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Everyone is welcome, and participants look at different topics and questions each week, while enjoying food and lots of open conversation. Alpha courses are run all over the world, and several Confluence churches have hosted courses in their communities.
Jubilee Church (Atlanta) has hosted Alpha courses since their inception, and they’ve learned a few things along the way about how to run one effectively in their community. Earlier this year, Simon Wong and Brice Fogle, both leaders at Jubilee Church, attended a national Alpha Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They listened to fresh teaching on some of the tough topics churches are facing today, met Alpha leaders from around the country, and learned how churches are running Alpha courses in different places.
Small Changes Make a Big Difference
As a result of what Brice and Simon learned at the conference, they implemented two major changes in the way Jubilee Church runs their Alpha courses. First, instead of providing dessert at the weekly sessions, they decided to offer a full, catered meal. “The catered meals provide a sense of community to the groups that can be missed if you only have light snacks and desserts, “ Brice said. “It also alleviates the Alpha leadership team and frees them up to connect with people instead of rushing around to prepare the food.”
Additionally, the team decided to change their approach to the teaching portion of the sessions. In the past, they’d taught the Alpha course content live, but preparing those talks each week was time-consuming. After being impressed with the videos they saw at the Alpha conference, Brice and Simon began using the official videos instead. Brice said, “The Alpha videos are outstanding! The website provides free, updated videos that are relevant, engaging, thought-provoking, and high quality.”
Location, Location, Location
One of the challenges of running an Alpha course is finding the right location. Meeting in people's homes can feel too intimate for guests. And meeting in a church building can be intimidating, depending on a person’s background or view of the church. Oftentimes, people who come to Alpha want a relatively anonymous setting to explore their questions about faith. Jubilee Church’s connection with Revive Consignment provided the perfect meeting space.
Revive is a consignment store that is owned and operated by Jubilee Church. The store also houses a 500 square foot coffee bar, which is the perfect setting for an Alpha course. It’s relaxed, friendly, and connected to a church but not housed in a church building. Revive has two locations in the Atlanta area, and Jubilee has successfully hosted Alpha courses in both stores.
Finding the right setting, offering a full meal, utilizing the Alpha videos - all of these factors have contributed to creating a context where many friends and community members have taken steps of faith toward Jesus. “It is encouraging to see God continuing to meet with us during Alpha, as well as seeing the lives of these people start to change,” Brice said.