Looking at Sowing 2 on the Engel Scale - the Alpha Course would be in that category. Our introductory Alpha meal will bring people along who are often not yet interested in investigating Jesus but they are interested in an event!
So one year at our Alpha meal we had Gavin Peacock, the football pundit and ex-professional footballer, to speak. There were 200 people in the room - the biggest Alpha meal we had done to date. A number of people came who weren’t going to come to anything else; they were just there because of Gavin but they heard him give his testimony and talk for 20 minutes about Jesus and they heard about the Alpha course. They were not planning to come back so the ‘drop off’ rate for the following week was quite high but this was a way to begin to sow something of the gospel. You have permission at that moment to say something.
We run an Alpha course every term and also within the category of Sowing 2 we would place our Sunday morning meetings - a place to which people can come who are still trying to find out about God. Then there are guest services - we make a big thing about things like baptisms. All the people that are to be baptised are encouraged to invite friends and family. We go as far as saying, ‘and we will save you some seats - just phone the office and tell us how many people are coming and we will make sure seats are reserved.’ That makes them think – ‘they’re expecting me to bring people’. So on average, each person who gets baptised here probably brings about 5-8 guests.
We would also do other guest services. Baby thanksgivings/dedication services have become a way of inviting people – we arrange them so that there are quite a number of families bringing their babies at the same time – there can be up to 30 guests for one family at these events! We’ve discovered that dedications as part of your Sunday meeting mean that people will always bring family and friends - again people come along not because they’re interested in church but because they’re friends of those taking part.