New Youth Film Series

New Youth Film Series

Alpha has never been so easy to run...

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PUT ALPHA ON FILM FOR YOUTH?

Jason: We wanted to create a tool that anyone could use to help spark a conversation about faith, even if they’re not an experienced public speaker. Also, video allowed us more space to be creative – to travel the world, to use interviews, animations and a variety of locations. 

HOW CAN YOUNG PEOPLE BENEFIT FROM THE FILM SERIES?

Ben: For Christian young people, the Youth Film Series helps them open an ongoing discussion about faith with their friends.

For young people who wouldn't call themselves Christians, it helps create a safe place where they will feel respected and comfortable enough to speak their minds and have conversations that they might not have anywhere else.

Jason: Also, a film gives the viewer space to disagree openly in a way that is more difficult when the speaker is in the same room. A film creates an environment where you can feel confident thinking and speaking for yourself.

WHAT WERE YOUR HIGHLIGHTS FROM FILMING THE SERIES?

Jason: For me, there were two highlights. I love what Alpha represents and its vision to help the local church, so it was an honour to be part of that. The other great part was being able to film the ‘Who is Jesus?’ talk in Israel. To go to Israel and stand in the places he stood was incredible. As I wrote the talk, my own faith became stronger. It hit me – more than ever before – that this guy really rose from the dead. It’s an honour to receive that truth and to share it.

WHY ARE YOU SO PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE?

Jason: Most of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers. Ben was my youth pastor in high school, and he encouraged me to run a discussion group in my school with a video series similar to Alpha. When it came to the final week, I wanted to have a live talk and give my friends a chance to respond. I asked Ben to do the last talk, but he convinced me to do it. I probably wouldn’t be doing this today if people hadn’t encouraged me like that when I was younger.

WHAT ARE THE NEXT BIG CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH WORKERS?

Jason: Nowadays, young people are self-learners, they don’t want to be told everything, and they don’t believe in experts, they want to discover things for themselves. I think Alpha is shaped really well to respond to this. 

We know that Alpha is not a magic tool that solves every problem and makes it all easy, but we believe it's a great tool to carry some of the weight. Youth workers are our heroes, so it's a real privilege for us to serve and help them. We know there is a real need for resources and if the Youth Film Series can help, we are honoured to be able to offer it.

WHAT NEW FEATURES OF RUNNING THE FILM SERIES WILL HELP YOUNG LEADERS?

Ben: One of main features is that we’ve embedded the questions for discussion in the talk. We’ve done this to help make it even easier to facilitate the conversation.  Every Episode includes three breaks for discussion: we pose a question, interview people on the street, and then the question reappears for you to pause it and talk it over in your group.

IN WHAT WAY IS THE MESSAGE OF JESUS STILL RELEVANT TODAY?

Jason: The message of Jesus is always good news. Everybody needs hope, and it’s a message of hope. People in every generation are faced with questions of their own selfishness and pride and the cost of that. Questions of eternity have always affected us as humans. When we die, what are we going to face? Jesus invites us to have confidence that we can die and know we will spend eternity with God in Heaven. I don’t think we live in a culture that spends much time thinking about eternity. Our culture is more concerned with today, but the promise of eternity still matters because it is a promise for today too – that we can have a relationship with God today.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT TRYING ALPHA?

Ben: I think I’d say, ‘You have approximately 570,000 hours left to live, why not spend less than 24 of them with us on Alpha, exploring life’s biggest questions?’


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Momentum 2018: How I was encouraged!

Momentum 2018: How I was encouraged!

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Hello! In case you don’t know me already, my name is Abigail Watson and I’m an intern with Alpha Ireland this year. As part of my ‘work’ with Alpha (if you can call it that!), I had the amazing privilege of going to a youth leadership conference called Momentum recently, and I just wanted to tell you about it and how it has encouraged me.

I definitely came away feeling encouraged, equipped and excited. I was also moved, challenged, and very inspired!

The tag-line for the weekend was ‘Encourage. Equip. Excite.’, which sums up the whole thing pretty well, I think. It was a weekend for anyone interested in or already involved in youth work, from those who have never done youth work in their lives to those who do youth ministry as their full-time job! Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone who came, but personally, I found that it more than achieved the promise in the tag-line, as I definitely came away feeling encouraged, equipped and excited. I was also moved, challenged, and very inspired! It was a very powerful weekend in numerous ways, and hopefully will be the first of many more in the years ahead.

  Gathered together for a quiz!

Gathered together for a quiz!


 

One of the most encouraging aspects of the weekend for me was how honest, open and vulnerable many of the speakers were about the challenges of youth ministry. I was particularly struck by Peter Rigney, the National Director of Alpha Ireland, who shared about how difficult things were for him when he first began working with Alpha. It was especially encouraging for me to hear that he often dreads having to do talks like those he was doing at Momentum, as I often get very nervous when asked to do anything from the front! I am not one of those people who loves public speaking and enjoys giving talks to large groups of people, so it was great to see how Peter has been able to do so much as National Director, despite the challenges he faced in this area.


Other speakers were just as open too, and made sure that no-one tried to put them on a pedestal: they made it really clear that what they do and have done is through God’s grace and not by their own strength. They could have told us all about their success stories, made it seem as if they did everything perfectly, and left us feeling overwhelmed, but they did the opposite – as Theresa Cronin (the Alpha Youth Cork Coordinator) commented, it was ‘sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly’. So basically, I left feeling really positive about youth work in general and feeling that I really can contribute something worthwhile, even if I’m not the super-confident, charismatic type!

  Peter Rigney talking at Momentum.

Peter Rigney talking at Momentum.


Momentum was also a great weekend for being equipped in a practical way: finding out about useful games and resources/materials that are available for youth ministry. For example, we heard from Tearfund about their resources for looking at global justice issues with young people, from Annette Evans about prayer spaces, from Youth for Christ about how they use soccer as a fun way to engage with teenagers, from Jonny Somerville about the Nua Film Series, and from several others too! I realised that there are lots of resources available once you know where to look – much more than I had thought! 

  Anthony Clarke sharing about his work with youth!

Anthony Clarke sharing about his work with youth!


Finally, I think that Momentum really did manage to excite those who came about youth ministry (even more than they were already, that is) - most people seemed to leave feeling inspired and all fired up! For me, the most exciting aspect of Momentum was probably the sense of shared community and unity across the denominations, and seeing how everyone there was so passionate about youth ministry. Sometimes it’s easy to think that there’s barely anyone doing youth work in Ireland, and youth workers can feel isolated, but this was 130 of us (including those running the weekend) all coming together and realising that we can support each other and work as one big team.


One participant, Aidan Duggan, commented on how the weekend has given him a great sense of ‘hope and purpose’ and also on the potential of the event: ‘I’ve a feeling a lot is going to come out of this.’ I really think that he’s right – it’s the first of its kind, and really brought people together from different denominations, as well as different places. It’s not often that you get to go to an event that is so ecumenical, both in terms of who was running it and those who attended, and this was very fitting as it was coming up to the week of prayer for Christian unity (which is this week).

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Playing and praying together.

Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention

It was also exciting to dream big and think about how we can step out of our comfort zones and allow God to work through us. Peter shared a great quote from Mark Batterson with us on this: ‘Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention’. I know it might seem wiser to have dreams that are achievable and reasonably realistic, but let’s be ambitious with our dreams and trust the promise that ‘all things are possible with God’ (Matthew 19:26)!


  Abigail Watson            Alpha Intern

Abigail Watson            Alpha Intern

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