That is the question we found ourselves asking after 10 years of running Alpha.
There was a time when most of the baptisms at National Community Church were coming out of Alpha. The baptisms demonstrated clear fruit from the ministry. Then there came a season, like every ministry, where we needed to ask, “How can we bring something new to the table?”
Right when we began exploring this question, God was taking me on a similar journey in my personal life.
Mark Batterson, our head pastor often says, “100% of the prayers that don’t get asked, will go unanswered.” I had been on staff for about a year at this point and had heard this numerous times. I began to internalize this phrase and reflect on my own prayer life.
To be honest, sometimes we ask for the bare minimum in our prayers like "Please let this go well.” But as I saw and observed Pastor Mark’s prayers for our church and the boldness in which he prayed, I realized I was not asking bold enough prayers! I needed to be praying and speaking into what “could be” with Alpha.
As God convicted me of this, I realized He was willing to give me a greater capacity of His Spirit. He was willing to give me more anointing for the ministry, but if I was not asking, then to some degree I wasn’t fully surrendering the ministry in my prayer life.
So it just became an outpouring of His Spirit through prayer and through this personal journey I was able to birth a strategy for Alpha. Prayer was the channel to open the door.
I started by looking at the different areas where prayer is integrated at the church and figuring out how can we get people praying outside of the Alpha team.
1. Every single Thursday there is a group of intercessors that meet in the War Room and all I need to do is send them a prayer request for Alpha and they will intercede on our behalf for an entire hour.
2. We brought awareness about Alpha throughout people’s daily lives. We would remind them Alpha meets on Mondays and ask them to pray. We encouraged small prayers that they could lift up as they walked to work, waited in line at the coffee shop, folded the laundry, etc. Prayers like, "Lord, Alpha is starting tonight. Would you bless the people that are going to be there?"
3. We enlisted the staff of the church to pray. We have a prayer guide that goes out every single Tuesday morning, we gather and we pray together for all the needs of the church. It can include ministry needs, health issues, and things like that. So we regularly have them pray for Alpha.
I was looking for all these ways that I could have people supporting us through prayer.
So we got to the first night of Alpha. We had doubled our attendance previous to any of our other Alphas. We went from 21 to 52!
I did doubt a little on the first night. I thought, well, there is free food, party atmosphere… so we are going to lose some people next week. And then the second week came and everyone came back! This time I acknowledged that this was fruit. We were seeing God’s faithfulness from all of the prayers.
From then on, the rest of our Alpha became a focus on the fruit not on the numbers. The team and myself asked, “How do we leverage the fruit God is producing and partner with Him in this?”
As we enter into 2017, our church verse for the year is Isaiah 27:3 which says "Sing about a fruitful vineyard. I the Lord watch over it, I water it continually." God is continually reminding me, "You don't have to do all of the work to make this fruitful. Yes, you have a responsibility, but it doesn't all rest on your shoulders. You can’t even see everything that I am doing, but I am watering it continually."
With our next Alpha about to start, I asked our core team to be praying through this verse. We haven’t even begun advertising and already 24 people have signed up! God is up to something far beyond what we could do or imagine.
At NCC, we are praying, we are praying, we are praying. It is built into our culture. It's who we are. And yet, we also want to give testimony to how these prayers are coming to life. And we are expectantly praying for more testimony to come...
Kiersten Telzerow is the Alpha Hub Director at National Community Church in Washington DC.