Alpha is a ten-week course that provides a safe place to explore life’s biggest questions. Globally proven and highly effective, Alpha creates a culture of invitation within your church and is a great front door for people exploring faith.
A personal invitation is at the heart of effective church outreach, but it can be hard to get your congregation on board. Here are seven surefire tips to get your church excited, equipped and confident to invite their friends and family to explore Christianity.
1. Start with the why
As Simon Sinek says, if you want people to buy in to what you do, they need to believe in why you do it. It’s no different with Alpha. If you want to get your congregation excited to invite their friends to Alpha, they need to understand why the church is running it—to share the gospel and introduce people to Jesus. At Vintage Church they spend time at Sunday services sharing stories from Alpha and explaining the impact it can have in people’s lives. ‘We also show videos from the front,’ says Beth, ‘so people know what they’re coming to and what they’re inviting people to.’ At Unihill Church Greg dedicates entire Sunday sermons to the subject of invitation.
2. Get comfortable with ‘No’
One of the biggest challenges of developing an invitational culture is to overcome the congregation’s own fear of rejection, says Greg. ‘If I ask my friend and they say ‘No,’ what do I say after that?’ While this initial rejection can be enough to stop people asking again, Greg takes the practical steps of talking his congregation through what a healthy, helpful response is. ‘We train them to say things like, ‘Maybe next time,’ or ‘We run it regularly, let me know if ever you’re interested.’’ This reassurance that a ‘No’ isn’t the end of the world can help give the courage needed to invite a friend to Alpha.
3. Run relaxed social events
It’s a lot easier to invite people to a fun night out than to a service. A couple of weeks before Alpha kicks off, Greg’s church hosts a small comedy festival over two evenings. ‘Congregation members can invite their friends who aren’t ready to come into a church service—but are ready to come to a comedy night.’ At the event, their Christian comedian makes a short gospel appeal as part of the set, and Greg makes a quick pitch for Alpha and hands out personalised invitations. ‘Out of that show we actually had a number people come to Alpha’ he says.
4. Don’t make the ask too big
The prospect of joining an eleven session course can sound pretty daunting to anyone—the time commitment alone can be a put-off for potential guests. But by asking guests to simply give it a try and then make their mind up, the invitation to Alpha suddenly becomes less intimidating for both the invited and the invitee. ‘We just focus on getting people to the first couple of weeks,’ says Greg. At Vintage Church, Beth’s team have found success in breaking down the invitation into two batches. ‘We invited guests to a six week course,’ she explains, ‘then around week five we gave them the option to continue for the remaining weeks, if they want—we found that by doing that people were far more likely to sign up and come along.’