Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Alpha in the Workplace

I was incredibly blessed to be invited by our Adult Ministries team at church to a recent Alpha in the Workplace conference at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minnesota. Lately I have been enveloped in thought as to what it means to be salt and light, especially in the marketplace. I think ultimately it means to show love to your fellow neighbor or colleague, walk with them through life, share the Gospel with them...and when necessary use words. But this course is a more purposeful outreach to your fellow employees.

What is Alpha?

The Alpha course is an opportunity to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed,
non-threatening manner over ten, thought-provoking weekly sessions.

A nyone interested in finding out more about the Christian faith. Adults of all ages are welcome.
L earning and laughter. It is possible to learn about the Christian faith and to have fun at the same time.
P eople meeting together. An opportunity to get to know others and to make new friends.
H elping one another. The small groups give you a chance to discuss issues raised during the talks.
A sk anything. Alpha is a place where no question is seen as too simple or too hostile.

When I arrived at the church Thursday morning, I was purposeful about getting into one of the vans in which I didn't know anyone. We were going to be traveling for several hours so I wanted to make a point of connecting with some new brothers and sisters. It was a blessing to share in fellowship, conversation and trail mix for the four hour drive to the Twin Cities.

I was surprised by the small attendance at this particular event, but appreciated the opportunity to network with other folks from various churches and businesses around the country. Again, I grabbed a chair at a table next to some ladies I had never met before. After a brief introduction, I learned that their boss had flown them up from Edmond, Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) to learn more about Alpha. They were interested in introducing this course to their employees.

Our conversation was truly interesting and it sounded like this:

OK Lady: So, do y'all pray before your meetings at work?
Me: Excuse me? Did you ask if we pray before our meetings?
OK Lady #1: Yeah, don't you pray before your meetings?
Me: (Choking on a cookie) Actually it's a very secular work environment. Because we're a Fortune 500 company, we're very "tolerant" (doing the hand gesture) of diversity but in respect of everyone's beliefs we don't practice that.
OK Lady #2: Well you know Erik, someday we'll all have to stand before the Lord and answer to him.
Me: (silence)

Thankfully the programming started but I learned later:
1. They pray after their monthly employee town meetings
2. They have an on-site chaplain that prays for employees, does hospital visits, etc.
3. The company tithes 10% of its profits
4. All of upper management is Christians and they continually pray to God for guidance and wisdom
5. There are PLENTY of opportunities to learn about Jesus and the Gospel including several classes and Bible studies
6. They have never been sued but HR has certainly had lots of conversations with employees

Our conversations definitely made me pause and appreciate their situation. It would be amazing to open up our meetings at work in prayer. However, we do have lots of opportunities to get plugged into various ministries at work including Bible studies, prayer groups, book clubs, etc.

The guest speakers were awesome, however after several hours my thinking shifted from "This is going to be pretty easy to implement" to "Wow. We're really going to need to get on our knees and pray about this. There's a ton of planning to do to ensure this is seamless and impactful for our colleagues so that God can do his thing."

Thankfully, I have a partner-in-crime at work and she and I are going to meet tomorrow to pray and dialogue about next steps so please keep us in your prayers.

Hosanna did an amazing job or putting together this conference. There was great worship, hospitality, presentations, and prayer. At the time, I had really been under the weather and had been experiencing horrible fatigue, dizziness, a rapid heart and more. I came forward during prayer time and let a gentleman lay hands on me and pray for my health in addition to God preparing the way here in Des Moines. I felt a rush of blackness leave my body and it was the first time in my life I thought I was going to fall over.

Lastly, the highlight of the event was meeting singer/songwriter and amazing worship leader: Tim Hughes. He was rehearsing for the main Alpha conference the next day and I was blessed to catch a couple of songs (Blessed Be Your Name and Beautiful One, which he wrote). After the conference I sought him out and thanked him for blessing me with his music and allowing God to work through him. Needless to say, I've kind of been on a Tim Hughes kick ever since. A site I stumbled on that I should pass along to you is WorshipCentral.org. Not only is there some great content on the site, there's some awesome songs they've posted.

Please keep Alpha in the Workplace in your prayers and especially here in Des Moines. I have a feeling that this could be a spark that could fan into flames...a passion for His name...uniting the Church here in Des Moines and spreading the everlasting love of Jesus Christ in the workplace in my company and several, several others.

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