Engage with people who wouldn’t usually come to church – online.
Alpha online uses the same content as the in-person Alpha, the only difference is that it is hosted over the digital space. Each session features a talk and small group discussions, with the option of sharing a virtual meal with guests or some ice-breaker games before the talk. Alpha online allows churches, organisations and individuals to take evangelism into a new space – the digital space, with intentions to reach further and wider.
The three ingredients of Alpha
Whether in person over a hearty meal or virtually with a cup of coffee in hand, every Alpha session starts with a time to connect with one another, relax and build friendships.
Having food and fun together every week creates a space and culture for people to connect and share life on a deeper level.
The Alpha talks are designed to engage people from all walks of life and inspire conversation.
Explore the big questions of life, unpack the basics of the Christian faith, and address questions like “Who is Jesus?”, “Why and how do I pray?” and “How does God guide us?”
One of the most important part of Alpha: the chance to share your opinion, and discuss in a small group. There’s no obligation to say anything and there’s nothing you cannot say.
It’s an opportunity to hear from others and contribute your own perspective in an honest, friendly and open environment.
The Online Experience
Miles Toulmin, Senior Pastor of Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang and Executive Director of Alpha Asia Pacific, shares the 5 Rs of why we run Alpha online and the 4 Ss on how to better facilitate a small group discussion online.
Alpha online enables you to reach more people outside the church who would not necessarily be able to attend an in-person Alpha.
Guests are more likely to come back and show up more consistently for sessions online since it is more convenient. Individuals are also more open and vulnerable with sharing which is great for building relationships.
More people are willing to register for the Weekend Away online since it is so convenient to attend online.
It works! And it works well.
Individuals who find it difficult to serve on an in-person Alpha might be better able to serve on an online session. Activate the digital disciples in your church.
Make the group a bit smaller to make it easier to facilitate online.
Discussion time has to be a bit shorter to keep people engaged.
Hosts and Helpers are encouraged to be a bit more directive when facilitating the discussion instead of waiting on guests to respond.
Leverage on the technology. Make use of the features on your video conferencing platform to engage your guests through other means.
Looking to start running Alpha online? Contact us to find out more about how we can support you in getting started. Get in touch with Alpha Singapore or look for your local Alpha office website for more information on training in your area.
In addition to adhering to locally recommended health guidelines, we also want all our Alpha courses online to be safe places where communities can have interactive sessions allowing guests to explore their questions about life, faith and God in a welcoming and judgement-free environment. Please see some of our recommendations:
Alpha and Alpha for Youth are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure our ministry is E-Safety aware and competent. Please see more information here.
If you are running Alpha or Alpha Youth online, please take all the necessary steps to ensure you as the church or ministry are E-Safety aware and competent.
E-Safety is the collective term for safeguarding (protecting vulnerable individuals) involving the use of mobile phones, computers (including laptops, netbooks, tablets) and games consoles, to communicate and access the internet, emails, text messages, instant messaging, social networking sites and other social media.
If churches are not able to run an Alpha course in-person, we recommend moving Alpha online! We firmly believe that as churches innovate in these unforeseen circumstances, God can reach an even greater number of people.
There are many great solutions online that will allow churches to play a video and have discussions. While we recommend Zoom as our preferred service platform, we’re excited to announce that we will be launching Alpha Now in 2022 – our very own video conferencing platform that will be integrated with MyAlpha for a unique Alpha online experience!
Option 1: Have all participants dial in to one video conferencing platform to watch the video/talk. After the video/talk, break out into individual groups for discussion.
*Please note that not all video conferencing services allows for this. Zoom has this capability. We recommend only using this model if the total number of Alpha participants is under 75. Assigning everyone to the correct break out groups can get a bit tricky with a larger group of people.
Option 2: Provide the weekly video to all hosts and have each group host their own online meeting. We recommend using this model if the total number of Alpha participants is over 75.
If able to meet in smaller groups, consider having an in-person day or weekend away. Churches have found that by this point, guests want to meet in person and are open to a non-digital format.
If doing an online weekend away, we recommend:
1. Watch all three videos in one day
2. Include live or pre-recorded testimonies to create an authentic and personal environment
3. Make sure to add fun elements into the day! Surveys, games, humorous videos. The day should feel exciting and not draggy
We recommend each host feels out their group when it comes to prayer ministry:
1. Break out into smaller groups and pray for each other
2. Make it private to allow for guests to share personal prayer requests
3. Invite guests to request prayer even after the session via text or email. The group host can then reach out to these guests individually to set aside time for more prayer
Much to our surprise when we offered Alpha online, whereas we normally had 35-40, maybe 50 people sign up, this time we had 150 people sign up. I am delighted for what God is doing and for the way God is leading us. It is such an effective tool. It builds new believers, it instructs older believers, and it is especially welcoming for pre-Christians who have a lot of questions and need a safe place to ask these questions.
It has changed the entire thinking of not meeting physically, but even meeting online, it was really effective.
Even though the church couldn’t gather for the past few weeks, thanks to Alpha online, we still managed to continue to share the Gospel. Yesterday, one of our guests from Alpha online joined us in the service and offered her life to Jesus.
Using Alpha online as a tool to share the gospel can be easily done by the church. First, there’s no need for physical location. Then, no food preparation is needed. It is cost saving. With only a laptop or a phone, you can run Alpha online.