Accelerate: Hosting Self-Discovered Truth with Micro Alpha

Chances are you’ve heard about Alpha, if not experienced it firsthand.

Through fellowship and an introduction to Christianity, Alpha invites us to “explore the meaning of life” and  meets seasonally at Immanuel Church. Micro Alpha, on the other hand, is designed to literally meet people where they are – in our communities, our neighborhoods and our homes – on a very small scale.

Pastor Joe Boerman and his wife Deb dove into hosting their first Micro-Alpha this fall, and when asked about the experience, Joe was quick to note, “I wish we had done this sooner.”

When asked about the Micro Alpha, Pastor Joe was quick to note, “I wish we had done this sooner.”

IC: What led you to host a Micro Alpha?

Joe: I was the first one to feel God’s invitation to do something in our neighborhood. We’ve lived on our block for 25 years, and I felt a nudging from God to explore spirituality with our neighbors. Deb and I were both feeling independently that God was calling us to take this step.

Deb: I felt the need to reach out to our neighbors, beyond our church, where I’m most often teaching Christians. I felt God was directly leading me and I said ‘okay’ to Joe.

IC: What makes Micro Alpha unique?

Joe: Beyond the small group setting, it seems to speak to people where they are, whether they have church or spirituality in their background or not. There are other materials that assume a Christian background coming in, but Alpha doesn’t – it builds from the ground up, laying a foundation. The best truth is truth that is self-discovered. The videos are done in such a way that there is a lot of self-discovery.

So many times when Jesus or his followers got together, there was a meal or breaking of bread. A very big part of Alpha (and Micro Alpha) is the sharing of a meal and it’s a great way to begin. We’ve found it breaks down barriers and helps people get beyond their own boundaries in sharing. It’s a commitment, but really worth it.

Deb: It’s been very comfortable and enjoyable. There are some people that would never go to a church Alpha, and Micro Alpha meets a need for people that have been hurt by the church. They like this setting.

IC: What advice would you give someone interested in hosting a Micro Alpha?

Joe: We have found people are open for community. They are open to spiritual discussion, as opposed to someone giving all the answers. My advice would be to do it sooner than later. And if you have fears about it, do the thing you fear. It has become a very enjoyable group that we look forward to meeting with every week.

Deb: I told our neighbors we’d be talking about the meaning of life from a Christian perspective. I was blown away that they said yes, that they come every week and [by] how interested they are. Just do it. It’ll just work out, especially the dinners. It’s not hard. Actually, the hard part is not answering their questions!

IC: What role do you see Micro Alpha playing at Immanuel?

Joe: Our group ends in a month, and they’re sad it will to be over soon. They’re already asking if they can do this again, and invite other neighbors.

We will continue to have the all-church Alpha. I see Micro Alphas as the future of Immanuel because there are so many people that will not come into the doors of a church building, but they will go to a neighbor’s house. That’s a lot of people. In order to reach them, we have to go through the home into the neighborhoods.

Deb: My vision is that our neighbors will someday want to host a Micro Alpha in their own homes with people they know, that it would pyramid. So what’s the future? I’m not a prophet, but I see that it could keep going.

IC: Speaking with participant Mike Lombardo, what’s your favorite part of the course?

Mike: The interactive approach. It’s is designed for the guests to interact, and that matters as much as the course itself. The video mediator (Nicky Gumbel) will ask if there are any questions, which is typically when the learning starts. The course and the guests are a magic recipe that results in a wonderful learning experience and furthers you down your path with God.

IC: Would you recommend this course to others?

Mike: I would, for a variety of reasons, especially if you’re trying to find direction in your life. Having a relationship with God and then discovering God’s direction for you is a lifelong journey. Many courses are designed to leave you with answers to equations or start you down a new path. If you walk away fulfilled that’s wonderful. However, if you walk away with questions, like most nights, that’s even better.

On Sunday, November 24, Immanuel will be taking a special offering with the hope that $75,000 will be given. This amount has never been given on one Sunday during Immanuel’s history.  None of the money collected that week will go toward operating expenses; all will go toward mortgage reduction, global ministry (India anti-human trafficking) and local ministry (micro Alpha).

Eighty percent of the money collected will go toward reducing our mortgage so as to more quickly free up ministry money. Ten percent of the money given will go toward local ministry — specifically toward the investment of Micro Alpha.  

100_1824Laura Forman is married to David and they live in Gurnee with their five children. She is a fitness instructor, freelance writer and can be found at church or www.lauralisaforman.com.

What’s on Pastor Joe’s Mind: Stuck

by Pastor Joe Boerman

Yesterday, in the snow, I made it all the way home from church, only to get stuck at the end of my own driveway … stuck bad. The garage was RIGHT THERE, but I was hanging halfway out into the street and 30 feet away from being “home.”

snowcarstuck-1
Photo courtesy of /www.buckscc.gov/swop

It’s frustrating to see your destination, but just keep spinning wheels trying to get there.

I feel that way about our Accelerate giving initiative at Immanuel. Last
fall we “saw” what Accelerated giving could look like at Immanuel-
-A mortgage that is greatly reduced, if not eliminated
-A variety of much-needed, new initiatives in our communities and
in our church
-A deeper involvement in our world including things like the JELLY
Project, anti-human trafficking initiative, missionary projects, etc.

Three months into Accelerate, I’d like to say we’ve got good traction, but we don’t. Since December ended, our giving has been “stuck”, partly do to the fact we haven’t been talking about it enough, to be sure.

This week it just feels like being stranded at the end of my driveway.

I can see the difference a little (or lot) of traction would make, but the wheels are just spinning.

The end of my story yesterday is that a few good men came and pushed me home. At first it was just a lone neighbor. It wasn’t until others stopped to help that together my car and I got home.

I am not embarrassed to say that we need you- all of you– giving to Immanuel for Accelerate to help us gain some traction in an initiative far more important than one man getting into his garage.

And THAT is what’s on my mind this week.

Want to learn more about Accelerate? You can watch videos about our generosity initiative HERE.