Planning your Student Alpha Course
So, you want to run a Student Alpha (SA) course. Great stuff! However, there seems to be a LOT to do. We understand that – and so we’ve put together some essential questions to ask yourself at different stages of the planning process. Here we go....
3-6 Months in Advance
What is the aim of the course?
It’s important you decide from the outset of your SA what its aim is. SA can be used in several different contexts; such as, a tool for evangelism, as a tool for discipleship, a follow-on from a mission week, or for renewing and deepening previous faith commitments.
Who is the course for?
It’s important to decide who you want to invite on the SA course. For example, are you inviting just your own friends (you’d probably want to do a SA Small) or those in the wider Student community (SA Big course would suit this).
Where will the course take place?
Most people have never been inside a church building and may find it intimidating. If you’re doing a SA Small, your own home/flat/halls would be a good place to think about running your course. For a SA Big, get creative- what about a local cafe, bar, sports hall? Basically, choose a venue where your guests will feel the most relaxed.
When will the course take place?
Students already have a lot on, so don’t overwhelm your guests with another massive inconvenient commitment. Think about the best time of year to run your course; for example in the middle of exams, probably not a great idea. Also think about an appropriate time of day as well, 8.00pm on a Thursday evening before the weekly night out, again, not great!
Who will run it?
This obviously depends whether you’re doing SA big or small. For SA big, you will want to get a trusty team together. If you decide to do live talks, get the word out there to Student workers/ Church leaders to help with them. For SA Small, do you want to rope in one or two friends to give moral support and to help with hosting?
What about Money?
Running a SA course doesn’t need to cost the earth. If you’re doing a SA Small, perhaps suggest to your guests it might be an idea to take it in turns to cook for each other and you all put in a bit of money? For a SA Big, certain shops give away fresh food at the end of each day, or perhaps ask local churches to help with the cost? Check out the Studentalpha.org for more ideas.
What about the weekend/day away?
We really want to encourage you to take some ’time out’ during the course to cover this material. What this ‘time out’ looks like is up to you! Get creative, have a think and check out the training material for more ideas.
Should we have worship?
Student Alpha is all about showing people what a Christian life is like and worship is a massive part of it. If you’re doing a SA Big, worship might look like a band or someone playing a guitar. For a SA Small, it might look like popping on a worship CD in the background.
What support do I need to run my course?
It would be an idea to chat to people in church and CU leadership in your area about your SA course. If you have a Student Pastor, make sure they are aware of what you want to do. If you’re doing a SA Big, perhaps the CU might want to get involved or other churches in your area? It be also is good to think about who you could get to pray for your course.
Who is my Student Alpha Adviser?
We have SA Advisers all over the country that are dedicated to helping you make your SA course the best it can be. Get on Studentalpha.org and find them- they REALLY want to hear from you- it would be rude not to!
Have I registered my course?
Please, Please, Please, register your course- EVEN if it’s a SA Small. We can’t emphasise this enough! It’s not so we can stalk you; it’s so we are aware of where courses are going on and so we can help you. DO IT, register NOW! (And for being so great, we will send you some free training material when you do!)
How do I get the word out about my course?
Personal invite is the best way to get people coming along to your SA course, FACT. If you’re running the course for your friends, brilliant! But make sure they are clear about when/where it is in plenty of time and about how much you want them to be there. For SA Big, Facebook/ twitter are great, get the word out through churches and CU’s- and make sure you use all the resources we offer like the VOX Pops and animations.
What equipment and practicalities do I need to sort?
If you use the online resources you will obviously need a laptop/PC- if you’re using the DVD, a laptop, DVD player and TV will be needed. Ask yourself these questions, how am I going to set up the space? Where am I going to serve food from? Where are the small groups going to go? Who’s cooking? Who’s setting up and clearing down each week? You get the gist...
Who is praying for the course?
Is there a group in your church that will commit to praying for your course? Could you get people together praying while the course is actually happening?
What about the Launch event?
Some people decide to do a SA launch event to get some buzz going about the course and to give people an opportunity to have a taste of what to expect. Perhaps you could run an open mic night or a have a party? Check out studentalpha.org.
I have a team; do I need to train my team?
Yes, yes, yes! All the training is available at studentalpha.org. You will just need to register your course to get it. Make sure your team are equipped and excited to GO!
Have I got the weekend/day away planned?
It’s a great idea to have the ‘time away’ planned in advance. This way you won’t be thinking and panicking about it when the course begins.
And again, have I registered my course?
Please, Please, Please, register your course- EVEN if it’s a SA Small. We can’t emphasise this enough! It’s not so we can stalk you; it’s so we are aware of where courses are going on and so we can help you- DO IT, register NOW! (And for being so great, we will send you some free extra training material when you do!)
When should I train my team?
Now! Two to three weeks before is a great time to get your team trained up. It will give them enough time to invite their friends, but will also mean the training is fresh in their minds!
Do people know about the Course (and, if you’re doing one, the launch event)?
This is the time when you need to get the word out about your course. This might look like a Facebook group/changing Facebook profile pictures/ flyers/posters etc. Again, get creative! For some examples of Course Promo videos, check out the Student Alpha Facebook Group.
Have I got everything planned and written down?
You need to feel prepared and excited to run your course – get a clip board if it helps! Make sure you know what is happening and have everything clearly written down and organised. We promise this will make you feel a lot calmer and ready to give it your all.
Are my team equipped and excited?
If you have a team, are they ready and excited about the course? They will be the key people inviting their friends at the end of the day- if they are envisioned and excited, we guarantee they will invite their friends.
NB: This timeline contains questions you will need to ask yourself if running a Student Alpha Course, however the timescale is an ‘ideal’ one. If you decide you want to start running a Student Alpha Course next week, go for it! We hope these questions can help you anyway. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Student Towers if you have any questions during any part of this process. Email Studentalpha@alpha.org. We look forward to hearing from you!