An Experiment in Collaboration

An Experiment in Collaboration

Alpha Lab

It was really helpful to hear of the challenges other leaders face in running Alpha and how they’ve overcome them.

The next generation of leaders and innovators are being invited to dream big and challenge their thinking about how to do Alpha. Welcome to Alpha Lab – an experiment in how to do things differently.

Alpha Labs are local gatherings of young leaders who want to run Alpha for their generation. Leading Alpha is tough and there are skills that need to be learnt and questions that need to be answered so Labs are places for encouragement, insight, dreaming and planning.

An Alpha Coach hosts each Lab, guiding conversation, encouraging creative thinking and helping leaders work through challenges together. Collaboration is what makes Alpha Lab work; the collective experience of a group of leaders working together draws out ideas and overcomes challenges in a way that isn’t possible alone.

Every leader leaves an Alpha Lab with a plan and a vision for running Alpha in their context to reach their generation.

A recent Alpha Lab at the Brompton Café in South Kensington saw Coaches and Leaders from ten different churches attend and get involved. Jon Keel, Assistant Pastor at Sawyers Church, Brentford, spoke to Alpha about his experience as a guest at the Lab:

Have you done Alpha before?

I’ve been in and around Alpha for quite a few years. In the past I’ve run Alpha for youth and have been involved in Alpha in our church and across the churches in our town. At the moment we church aren’t running Alpha but it’s been on the drawing board for a while which is why I was interested in linking in with Alpha Lab.  

What was most beneficial about the Lab in thinking about applying Alpha to your context?

Personally, I thrive in collaborative learning environments. The Lab gives a space to creatively spark off other people’s ideas and experiences. It was really helpful to hear of the challenges other leaders face in running Alpha and how they’ve overcome them.

What did you learn about Alpha that was most important?

From the conversations I came away with the knowledge that Alpha can be flexible. Our church diary is packed so one of our challenges is ‘where can we run Alpha?’ At the Lab I heard of another church that run their Alpha in a local restaurant and we were able to talk about the benefits and challenges of that setting.

How will you try to adapt Alpha in the future?

Since the Lab we’ve made a commitment as a church to run Alpha. We’re still working out what that might look like but it’s definitely moved to the forefront of our thinking. It’s amazing how God has brought together a team of people excited about being part of Alpha because of the Lab.

Why do you want to bring Alpha to your church?

As a church we offer numerous activities through which we see hundreds of people from our local community come through our doors. We exist as a church because we believe in Jesus. For me Alpha is such an important tool because it joins the dots.

My prayer is that those hundreds of people will not only come through the church doors for great community activities, but will come to church to explore Christianity. We want people to meet with Jesus and Alpha is a great way of setting up that meeting.

How do you think young leaders will benefit from Alpha Labs?

An Alpha Lab is an opportunity to sit in a room with a handful of like-minded people, inspiring one another, spurring each other into action and keeping each other accountable through on-going relationships. There’s something very special about that, something that I think is particularly helpful and attractive to young leaders. I felt part of something exciting, inspirational and creative that had a relevant and immediate input into my specific context.

To find out how to run an Alpha Lab, or get involved with a local Lab, contact us

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Sheela's Story

Sheela's Story

The idea of running Alpha in the workplace honestly stemmed from a practical reason – late working hours were a barrier to my colleagues being able to attend Alpha at church. It made sense to bring Alpha to the workplace for those who were interested to give it a go.

I remember feeling quite nervous and unsure the first time we ran it back in 2014. I didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even turn up! ‘Ye of little faith’ I remember a friend saying to me when we ended up with a solid group of about 20 in that first round. Since then, we’ve run Alpha four times - sometimes with larger groups, sometimes with smaller groups - but each experience has never failed to be just as amazing.

The most interesting aspect for me about running Alpha in our workplace was the immediate connection that people made from having something fundamental in common – where they work. There was little need for breaking the ice and discussions took off from day 1 with guests feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

Alpha in the workplace complements what the church is doing by reaching out to a community that might not have been able to be reached. So many of us know that being out there in the corporate world trying to make it in the great rat race can get tiring and it’s only a matter of time before one begins to ask “Is there more to life that this?” – which is a question that was on the minds of our guests when they came. Alpha provided that safe space for conversations that might not have taken place otherwise.

The most memorable account from a guest for me comes from a guy who had attended our first ever run of Alpha. Post-Alpha, he told us that while was hesitant initially about the whole idea, eventually the weekly sessions became a place of refuge for him in the busyness of work. He said that it was a truly unexpected experience - “Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.”

It’s not smooth sailing all the time but it is stories like this and many more of that nature that remind me that even if it’s for one person each round, it’s still worth it. And I’d just love to encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to just give it a go! The training and material make the process really simple to get started. Your adventure of a lifetime in running Alpha is just around the corner… trust me, it’s worth it!

Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.
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