We spoke to the Yee siblings, Esther and Deborah recently on their experience of running Alpha in their workplace and what sets it apart from doing Alpha in church. What they shared was an inspiring revelation and mission that will spur on more working Christians to share the good news in their workplace.
“What made you decide to run Alpha in your workplace and what set it apart from inviting them to an Alpha in church instead?”
The Alpha Film Series is a fantastic tool for evangelism, explaining Christianity in a manner which appeals to the intellect and the heart. We decided that we wanted to make the best out of the Alpha Film Series by running Alpha at the Workplace.
Alpha at the Workplace is targeted at our colleagues and held during the lunchtime and within our office premises. Therefore, inviting them to Alpha at the Workplace is akin to inviting them to join us for lunch, with the added value of watching a film and discussion. Hence, we found that it was much easier to persuade them to join us for Alpha during lunchtime as they need not take time off from their families or personal time to make an effort to attend Alpha in church.
While interacting with my colleague, I realised that the basic understanding of Christianity can be improved in the office. It is not a western religion, just a different way of life with FAMILY at its centre. Since most of my colleagues are family people and would have to leave work as soon as they can get back to their family, I figured that inviting them to church for Alpha would take away too much time for them. The other option was to bring Alpha to them at our workplace. Alpha at the Workplace is different due to the setting being less of a church environment, but just a bunch of colleagues and friends having lunch one day every week and enjoying good discussions.
“What was the most interesting (or scary) part of running Alpha and what is the difference between Alpha in church and Alpha in the Workplace?”
The most interesting part of running Alpha for me was listening to our colleagues’ varying views and perspective about comparative religion and their thoughts on the way of life – discussions can sometimes get very witty and full of laughter. (Laughs)
As the response to the Holy Spirit Weekend Away was relatively low, we repackaged it into a sort of TGIF-Alpha to bring the Weekend Away to our colleagues on a Friday evening, feasting on a sumptuous buffet, providing them more time to watch the videos and allowing more food for thoughts during our discussions. The scary part was that we were worried about the participants balking at the last minute and not turn up – we even entertained some scary thoughts about ‘what are we going to do with so much food?’ Thankfully it turned out great.
The interesting part in running Alpha in the Workplace for me was that I got to decide how to run everything, including running and creating my own Alpha campaigns, designs, weekly titles and the look and feel of Alpha in general (with the provided templates by Alpha of course). The creativity of it makes Alpha rather personal to us.
The scary part was also the fact that I had to run everything. I had to write invitations, draft follow up emails, run logistics, plan every week, host during Alpha and also facilitate my own group discussions. Of course, the production bit as well when we project the Alpha videos on three different screens. Technology breaches walls and makes life so much easier.
The difference between church and workplace Alpha was that we don’t really have time to fit worship in our Alpha schedule because it was held in the middle of a work day. We had to be efficient and prompt with our time so that we could start and end on time and everyone gets back to work. We only have 75 minutes every week.
“What was the most memorable moment during Alpha in your workplace?”
The most memorable moment for me was during the TGIF-Alpha that happened on 24 November 2017. My colleagues were moved by the videos and were very receptive in receiving prayers – after the discussions, they readily lifted their hands to receive the Holy Spirit and concurred with a firm ‘Amen’ when Tricia Neill invited them to echo the Sinner’s prayer in their hearts. It was defining.
I found the first week of Alpha in the Workplace the most memorable. We had launched the “Alpha Lunch Party” to stir the excitement for people to come and see for themselves. I’ve always loved the first video, “Is There More To Life Than This” – It was a very relevant to ask and it got people intrigued about Christianity.
At first, we only had 2 registered participants for the party and I was getting more rejection emails than registrations but we’d already ordered food for 50 people. It was extremely worrying and I had to resort to widespread email campaigns to reach out to more people but to our amazement, in just 1 and a half weeks, we had more than 70 guests registered. We had to order more food! We also had to look for more helpers and facilitators to accommodate the number of guests on the first day. Having gone from 2 registrants to more than 70 was an encouraging start for our Alpha course.
“Did it turn out like how you expected it?
It turned out way better than expected – we had a consistent average attendance of 35 participants each week and a dedicated team of 19 facilitators and helpers to make it happen.
Yes, and more. We never thought we would have so many people coming back each week and we sometimes get colleagues visiting from different offices. It’s great!
“What did you like about it?”
I liked the opportunity to share with others the Christian faith, and to provide clarifications on the queries after the videos, ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Why did Jesus die?’. Participants were fascinated with the historical aspects of Jesus and the notion of having a relationship with God.
It’s quite interesting to see that there are actually a lot of people who are curious about what Christianity is about and they are interested to come back every week so faithfully to watch the Alpha Film Series and engage in discussions.
It’s even more interesting when you see your guests all so eager to answer each other’s questions and to offer support and advice. We’re like a community already.
“What was the change or differences from being a guest to running an Alpha group?”
A guest may sit back, enjoy the film, and ask questions. As a facilitator running an Alpha group, I have to set aside time to watch the film in advance, makes notes, read the preparatory materials, think of ways to extrapolate the suggested questions to make the discussions more interesting, and pray ahead for each session.
As a guest, you walk in, and everything is laid out for you. You feel appreciated and welcomed. As someone running the Alpha group – I never thought that there would be so much logistics to think about each week! From catering food to getting the team together to pray and production set-up for Alpha every week. I have to thank my incredible team who are so cooperative and helpful each week. Above all, thank God for His Providence, the dedicated team and a very supportive management who cheered us on.
“How does that affect your faith?”
It was very edifying and at the same time, exciting to deploy the Alpha Film Series as a tool for evangelism in the harvest field. It is equally uplifting to lead my colleagues in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit and to see them beaming with joy thereafter.
I’m more passionate about having people know about Jesus and Christianity. Prior to this, talking about Christianity would have been the last thing that I’d do in a professional context.
“What’s next after this?”
It was a privilege to be able to run an Alpha group, and I certainly look forward to more opportunities to share the Christian faith through Alpha.
I hope that participants who attended this Alpha in the Workplace would spread the word to others in the organisation about how they enjoyed the sessions, and I look forward to gathering another mailing list to invite new colleagues to join us for the next term.
Alpha in the Workplace is a practical introduction to the Christian faith for the workplace environment and is open to anyone. It runs as a series of weekly meetings, with a friendly meal, a talk and small group discussion.
There are fifteen talks during the Alpha in the Workplace course, covering the basic principles of the Christian Faith. The talks are given over a ten-week period, including a weekend or day away.
Alpha in the Workplace can work for groups of any size, and empowers Christian professional and workers for effective evangelism. Alpha spans denominations and presents the core truths of the Christian faith in a manner that every denomination can get behind.
Are you ready to run an Alpha in YOUR Workplace?
If you would like to run your own Alpha at your workplace and have questions (i.e. How to start? How to create a mailing list to invite your colleagues? Where to get promotional materials? Are donations accepted?), don't hesitate to reach out to the nearest National Alpha Office, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.