St John's Linlithgow are using the Alpha Film Series to run Alpha in a local hotel function room so that guests can have a pint and feel relaxed. Having used the Youth Film Series for their young people, they are looking forward to the fresh and exciting format of the Alpha Film Series.
Week 9 - Does God heal today?
How did people respond to the episode?
This week's episode was excellent and led to various testimonies being given of when people had experienced miraculous healing in some way. A couple of our group who are very sceptical wanted to believe that God could heal and that God does heal.
We had the privilege of praying with a few of the guests and it wasn’t as awkward as we thought it might be. We kept it simple and straightforward.
What was the response to praying for people for healing?
All of the people we prayed for felt that they had benefited from prayer. One lady has since been to church with her husband and said that this week she has felt better and a bit stronger. One of the other guests mentioned that he felt his hands were tingling when we chatted about praying for healing and said, "I never realised that this is something I could do! Maybe I could pray for people and they could get healed!".
There were hugs and numbers exchanged with many of the guests and leaders which was lovely, as well as a real sense of them feeling sad that the course has come to an end.
Week 8 - How can I resist evil?
How did people respond to this week's episode?
This was a great episode - in fact some of the guests even said it was their favourite so far. It is interesting how many conversations took place about evil and how much evil there is in the world. With the shootings in Orlando, people were chatting about how such bad things can happen in this world.
Have the group dynamics changed since Alpha started?
We had four main groups this past week and each group has bonded so well. I have been away for a couple of weeks so looking around the room this week and seeing the chat happening so naturally was amazing. I think the decision to host our Alpha in a local pub has been a great idea as the guests have really responded well to the setting.
Next week will be our last session before a break and our Alpha Day. We are a bit nervous about taking a break but that can’t be helped as it is holiday time. We are giving them invitations this week and will send out a follow up invitation a week before to hopefully encourage them back.
Week 7 - How does God guide us?
How did you start the session this week?
We started week 7 with conversations over a meal and the option for guests to get a drink at the bar. There was a warm feeling in the room and a lot of the guests were chatting and buying drinks for one another.
How did guests respond to the idea that God guides us?
The quality of the video was excellent this week (by far my favourite!) and it seemed to produce a lot of questions, particularly around the story of the man upgrading his father's train ticket. The majority of the conversations were positive about the idea of God guiding them and conversations quickly went to a deep place.
What are your reflections on Alpha so far?
Our Alpha is running well and we have a good core group of people that keep coming back. The majority of the course members have visited our church at least once and seem to have had a positive time doing so.
Week 6 - Why and how should I read the Bible?
Are the guests forming relationships?
We were down about in numbers this week to around twenty-two people but had a lot of apologies from some of the regulars. There seemed to be a good feeling in the room as the guests have started to form friendships with one another. There seems to be a lot of chatter before the sessions start and some of the people have deepened there relationships as they have started to come to church and so are seeing people outside of Alpha.
What conversations were had after the episode?
This week we looked at "How and why do we read the Bible?". The video went down very well and the questions this week provoked a lot of conversation at the tables. The facts about the popularity of the Bible seemed to be the main talking point from the video and the most powerful small group question was "Has the Bible ever challenged your behaviour?'
How are you preparing for your Alpha Weekend?
Originally we had planned to do our Alpha Weekend this weekend (11th) but many key members of the course were unable to attend so we have moved it to late July. Although the course will have just have finished by then it means that a larger proportion can attend. All the guest that I have spoken to about the day away seem positive about the idea.
Week 5 - Why and how do I pray?
As there was problem with the pub we normally use (they double booked) we had to conduct our evening in our church hall. Whilst this wasn't ideal as we know this can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience for some people, it was certainly a novel experience sipping beer in a church! We were a little low on numbers this week and quite a few regulars weren’t there.
The episode went down very well and a particular highlight was the section on the Chilean miners. A lot of conversations and questions were easily generated around prayer and seemed to break down some people’s barriers. As a result of these conversations at least two people from Alpha attended our church service on Sunday.
Week 4 - How can I have faith?
This has been a quieter week for our Alpha as there were a few people missing. We’re praying that the numbers remain stable and the conversations to continue to be natural.
However, we still had twenty-six people there which was great. It has been amazing to see the groups bonding. There were times last night when we had some real fun, laughter and chat.
Did people enjoy this week's episode?
The Alpha Film Series episode last night was great and the testimony section was once again a highlight. A couple of our folks felt that the content containing Nicky and Pippa was lovely but was also very middle class with the mention of punting on the river and cutting the asparagus!
We used the ‘swimming pool’ picture that is part of the youth film series to discuss where you see yourself in relation to Christian faith and we found that really aided the conversations.
Week 3 - Why did Jesus die?
This week we really saw the groups taking shape. When people arrived they were greeting each other warmly and taking their seats like they own them. It’s easy to see who hasn’t arrived yet as we are all such creatures of habit and gravitate towards the same space every week.
How are guests engaging with the material?
Episode 3 was my favourite by a mile so far. I was watching the male guests during Darrell’s testimony and their body language spoke volumes. They all sat forward in their chairs and were fully engaged. After the episode, conversation flowed freely about sin and forgiveness.
We had one lady who has already asked for prayer and one man who started out as an atheist and is now apparently an agnostic!
I can’t wait to see what happens next week when we look at “How can I have faith?”.
Week 2 - Who is Jesus?
I had a bit of a personal struggle with Week 2. I’m not quite sure why, but I felt quite flat and had to work hard at being positive and upbeat. Lots of small things were irritating me such as the buffet not being ready on arrival and the tea and coffee being set up in a place that meant the staff were wandering around as we were watching the film.
However, I had no reason to feel like this as the guests had all come back, apart from one lady who sent her apologies as her mum had just been diagnosed with cancer.
Episode 2 of the Alpha Film Series was quite academic but the questions were really good and I had also prepared a few more so that the leaders had lots of material. The guests feel comfortable to not agree with what is being said and conversations are open and honest which we are very happy about.
Week 1 - Is there more to life than this?
The excitement was growing. A week before we launched our first ever Alpha using the Alpha Film Series we went along to the Invite Scotland event in Edinburgh and had our first glimpse of Episode 1. It was amazing - we loved the event and felt really ready to open our doors the following week.
How did you prepare for your Alpha?
We had prepared flyers and posters and had put an advert in the local paper. However, I was anxious about whether people would actually show up. My small team had gone through the training on Sunday evenings, a team were praying, and as a church we had been having an Alpha focus Sunday once a month since October. We had done the groundwork, now we had to have faith that when the doors opened people would enter.
Who turned up?
It was amazing to have thirty-five people there on the first night - I had only prepared a buffet for about fifteen but fortunately there was enough to go round! There were fourteen people who we had no connection with as a church; three ladies immediately bonded as they all go to Slimming World in separate places and two lads who had been sent by their wives bonded over a pint.
How did the first session go?
The first episode was great and the conversations flowed. There could have been a couple more small group questions to help enable discussion. As it was, some of the small group leaders had to think on their feet. We ended the night on time and with expectation that everyone would come back next week