The 7 Point Divine Renovation Game Plan
Divine Renovation is based on what Fr James Mallon calls “The Game Plan”. It has seven key ingredients:
1. Invitational Church
The starting point is to become an “invitational Church”, which is not a programme but both an attitude towards those outside the Church and a parish culture. The parish measures “success” not by the number that show up but by the number of invitations that are made by parishioners, recognising that the responsibility of the parish lies in the invitation being made, not the response.
Fr Mallon describes the Alpha programme as the “pump” in introducing people to the life of discipleship.
“At Alpha, people hear the Gospel in a fresh way, they often encounter Jesus, experience the Holy Spirit and are welcomed into an experience of Christian community like no other,” Fr Mallon wrote in his Divine Renovation Guide Book. “We have found that Alpha is the best first step for people who have been away from church or have had little to no experience of the Christian faith.”
Alpha is used not only to initiate the journey of discipleship but also to develop lay leaders. It also forms part of the RCIA process and is an element of the marriage preparation for couples.
3. Alpha team
Following Alpha, guests are invited to come back as members of the team on the next Alpha. The aim is to have 50% of first-time team members on every Alpha and to move those who have already served on the Alpha team to other ministries, thereby creating a continuous leadership pipeline.
No one can serve on Alpha for more than two years, creating space for new leaders to grow.
4. Connect Groups
“Connect Groups” are small to mid-size groups (around 20-30 people) that retain the key ingredients of Alpha such as eating a meal together, praise and worship, a talk by a member of the Connect Group, and prayer for one another.
The groups, each led by four leaders, meet fortnightly in the homes of parishioners and their primary focus is to build community.
This is how the parish ensures that all parishioners are known individually, loved, nurtured and taken care of. Members of connect groups are expected to have attended Alpha before joining the group.
The most trusted leaders within the parish are invited to pastor the Connect Groups and the parish leadership team prioritises investing in these leaders.
Any parishioner can take part in ministry. The intention is that every parishioner is involved in at least one ministry. Connect Group leaders help identify parishioners’ gifts and talents and encourage and support their current ministry or joining one if they haven’t done so.
6. Discipleship Groups
Parishioners are also invited to get involved in Discipleship Groups that are focused on learning content, such as catechesis and Bible studies.
Fr Mallon explains that “unlike Connect Groups, they are temporary, meeting only to do a particular programme with no expectation beyond that”.
Parishioners are free to choose any programme approved by the parish and are expected to engage in one faith development programme each year.
“It is our conviction that it is only when the fullness of the Christian life is being lived with some kind of involvement in these other aspects that the Eucharist has its proper place as the ‘source and the summit of the Christian life’, as the Second Vatican Council said,” according to Fr Mallon.
“When we are evangelised and in a discipleship process, seeing, experiencing and serving community, worship, especially the Mass, will come to life.”
• Source: Alpha South Africa