Developing Young Leaders through Alpha.
At Alpha we’re passionate about evangelism being something anyone and everyone feels they can do. We want it to instil confidence in young people that they don’t need all the answers, they just need to invite & journey with their friends. We have found that when put in the hands of young people, Alpha incites enough confidence to ‘have a go’ and often results in a process of leadership development.
When speaking to young people about sharing their faith and what holds them back from running Alpha, the answers were all very similar.
“I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“I’m not able to lead.”
“It’s too intimidating”
All of the reasons listed by students, come down to a lack of confidence and sense of inadequacy. But we believe, by coming alongside them, investing in them we can see them fully engage with their faith and grow into their leadership potential.
Alpha provides a pipeline for Student workers/Youth pastors/Church leaders to disciple the young people in their care. From attending Alpha to running Alpha, young people can move from guest to leader in a relatively short period of time.
One really effective illustration of this pipeline has been created by 3DM which is a global movement made up of leaders from across the globe who work to put discipleship and mission back in the hands of ordinary people like you and I. Their simple models are called ‘Life Shapes’ and one shape; The Square, helps us explain how we can raise up young leaders through Alpha.
The Leadership Development Square (by 3DM) helps us to recognise four different stages in discipleship through running Alpha. Each stage represents a part of the leadership development pipeline:
1 – Guest
2 – Helper
3 – Host
4 – Leader
Leading an Alpha Group
Whilst this process unfolds we see young people grow in confidence, believe in themselves and be empowered to share their faith with their friends. Leadership is formed and what is created in this process hopefully spills out into other areas of life, helping them internalize a leadership identity.
This model while coined by 3DM originated with Jesus. At every stage of His ministry you can see Jesus calling young women & men to follow Him, learn from Him and then call others to do likewise. He showed them and then he coached them through a process of learning and ‘having a go’ until they were ready to be fully entrusted with the mission.
The outworking of the process from 'I do, you watch' through to 'you do, I watch' will look different to us all. The great thing about such a simple model is that it can be used in a multitude of contexts and with various types of people. We'll leave you to decipher how this can best be used in your context with your young people for the best results. Whatever that might look like, we hope you see the young people in your world step into more of who they're called to be.
Here's some examples of this model in action:
In my second year of University I was asked by James, my Student Pastor if I would like to be a small group leader in our church's upcoming Alpha. Once accepted, I went along to a training evening led by James in which he helpfully broke down how we can lead and facilitate a small group. Later on, he took me along to some Alpha training events that he was speaking at around the UK, in which he gave me an opportunity to speak about my experience, with him by my side on the stage. As a young leader, this was so encouraging, because I got to see how he led, however he then went on to give me a platform to lead as well. Since then, he has continued to disciple me, give me chances to lead, gradually giving me more responsibility with Alpha. I'm now at a stage where I am able to lead independently. I'm so pleased he decided to use the discipleship pipeline of coaching and Alpha to invest in me. Now I can do the same for others and see them step into more of their potential through Alpha.
St Stephen's Youth Story
For a Youth Pastor, the dream is that your young people don't only take ahold of their own revelation of God but that they also share that with the world around them. The confidence to do so is often the missing piece but when we ran Alpha with our youth group we saw our young people really engage and develop a confidence in their beliefs. We decided we'd ask our Older Youth (14-18s) rather than simply attending Alpha next term if they're willing to run it with our Younger Youth (11-14s) including their testimony and personal story. We saw our teenagers really grow in confidence and start to articulate their personal journey. It was the beginning of a shift in focus from teaching them to bringing them into the discipleship process of those younger than them, resulting in their own faith growing and developing. It's exciting to see how this will continue to grow as they're coached and cheered on.