Covid-19 vaccinations are being rolled out speedily all over the world and while the timing and protocols may differ from country to country, we are at the brink of entering into a season of emergence as churches prepare themselves to resume in-person services.
The emergence from the pandemic will bring relief and celebration as well as a new reality that many people may view the church differently in the season moving forward. Will church still be a necessity for those who used to attend? Will we see the congregation return in full force? In the emergence post-pandemic, churches will be busy regathering people and getting their congregations in order. While the impact of the pandemic will see the church rebuilding out of the ruins, in this we also possess the greatest evangelistic opportunity of our lifetime. Never before are so many people questioning life, seeking loving relationships, searching for truth, and longing for a place to belong coming out of the chaos and the trauma of the previous season.
The effects of isolation have created a unique opportunity for us to show the love of God. In a season that has been marked by great uncertainty, many people have found themselves asking questions they have never asked before. In such a time as this, as people begin to transition into a world opening up again, the question we believe, is how will the church emerge?
Will we go back to doing things exactly as we did them before, or will there be innovations, new strategies, and new boldness in engaging the communities around us in a new world? Will our previous methods of evangelism and reaching out still be effective in a post-pandemic world or do we as a church need to do things differently?
In a time that calls for a great need for empathy and understanding in order to minister to those facing loss and trauma, what will be the markers of the post-pandemic church in bringing the gospel to the unreached? What if the spirit of listening and hospitality become markers of how we emerge? What if the spirit of inclusion, gentle kindness, and the power of the Holy Spirit in simple, profound prayer ministry marked the way we emege? What if the love experienced in communal exploration of ancient truths of Christ marked the posture of how we emerge from this pandemic?
In all of this, Alpha is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the church and those searching for answers, especially during this season. Over the years, Alpha has proven effective in reaching the lost and building community. People need a safe space to have conversations, make friends and process grief and changes. Alpha can become the place to facilitate these conversations and the exploration of the challenging questions that life can sometimes bring about.
As the church prepares and readies itself for a season of emergence, there are three ways Alpha can serve the local church:
REGATHER – members of the congregation
Lockdowns coupled with physical and social distancing have dispersed the church and pastors need a way to regather their congregation. Alpha is effective in re-connecting these members who have craved community during these times of extensive lockdown and isolation. By bringing back familiar activities such as sharing a meal together, engaging in conversation, and interacting within small groups, Alpha helps the church re-foster a sense of community.
RAISE – labourers for the harvest
For a number of people, they are emerging out of the pandemic with priorities re-ordered, a renewed sense of call, and a fire to run harder than ever for the Kingdom of God. This season of harvest requires all hands on deck. Alpha is effective in raising new leaders, providing them with a platform to nurture their gifts. Mobilising the entire congregation is possible with Alpha as everyone can play a part in the running of Alpha.
REACH – new people who need the gospel of Christ
Covid-19 has driven many to seek faith, hope and healing. The harvest is plentiful and people need a place to process what they have gone through. Alpha is a safe space for conversations, exploring faith, and finding community. In an age where more people are looking for a place to belong and be known without judgment, Alpha becomes a culturally relevant tool in its ability to create a non-threatening environment where people can meet and have meaningful conversations about life, faith, and meaning.
RELY – on the Holy Spirit
No human effort can compare to the manifest presence of Jesus. Alpha is grounded in prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit because only God changes people’s lives.
If the church is to emerge well from this pandemic, we need to be ready to run straight into the needs of a hurting world. In a post-pandemic world where the need will be greater than ever, the church has the greatest evangelistic opportunity of our lifetime to bring the only thing that can truly make a difference – the love and the person of Jesus.
If you’d like to run an Alpha, head over to https://alpha.org/run. Alpha is always free for the church and guests.