Alpha leader says vision and action are needed to change the world

Around 1,000 church leaders attended Holy Trinity Brompton's new 'Vision to Action' conference Thursday.

In response to growing demand, the event was hosted to help leaders manage church growth effectively and teach key management skills.

Nicky Gumbel, the vicar of HTB and the pioneer of the Alpha course said, "Vision without action is merely a dream and action without vision is just passing the time.

"Vision with action is about changing the world, which is what today is all about.

"All over the country - and the world - we are seeing green shoots of life and opportunities for growth in the church. But the question every church leader asks is: how can we make this happen?'

"The need for skills in organisation and management in the church body has never been more apparent."

Nicky Gumbel explained how the vision of HTB and Alpha International, to see "the evangelisation of the nations and the transformation of society" took on a new focus when Tricia Neill joined the staff of Alpha International in 1994.

Neill, a former News International director, where she headed up their exhibition division, recalled that when she joined the organisation, "I had no office, no desk, no phone and no computer. The future looked bleak."

Gumbel said that, "before Tricia, we were all lawyers, accountants and teachers but we had no leaders with a management background.

"Tricia brought experience, a professional and competent ability to train, deploy and manage people."

Under her leadership, the number of Alpha courses grew from 200 in 1994 to more than 41,000 in 163 nations today. More than 13 million people have done the Alpha course worldwide.

"She raises the standard of all of us and challenges us."

In 2006 Neill published a book, From Vision to Action to share her experience and lessons learned at Alpha International with other churches. The book became the platform for the conference.

Neill said that to turn dreams into reality, "You need to be clear what your vision is.

"Once you know what your vision is it is important to: put leadership structures in place; cast the vision; build the team; work together; and keep going."

Delegates had a range of practical seminars to choose from including:
How to communicate the vision; How to look after money; How to manage your members "data"; and How to get stuff done.

Other speakers at the conference included Mark Elsdon-Dew, Director of Communications for Alpha International and a former journalist for The Sunday Express; and Rebecca Stewart, the National Director of Alpha UK, prior to which she worked in banking, consulting and head-hunting.

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