Most churches introduce worship music only after the Alpha Time Away (or weekend) while others start with carefully selected songs on the first night. Here are some ideas from Alpha leaders across Canada who have shared their best practices:
Some Alphas provide a live worship team while others stream music from an online platform (eg. Spotify, YouTube). Think about your context (home Alpha, church, in-person, online etc) and the people with musical talent on your Alpha team.
The best genre of music is the type that makes your guests feel the most welcome. For younger groups, you might want to have upbeat, energetic music playing 5 or 10 minutes before your Alpha begins. For older crowds, you could have relaxing instrumental music. If you have a variety of ages at your Alpha, usually lively, fun music is enjoyed by all.
Since music styles and song preferences vary widely, we don't provide a specific list of songs for churches to use on Alpha. For Christian songs, the CCLI website has a list of popular songs with lyrics. Please double-check the lyrics and make sure they're not too "Christianese" at first.
Week by Week Ideas
For the first week or two, play upbeat energetic music, either live or streamed 5 to 10 minutes before your Alpha begins. This provides a welcoming and positive atmosphere. Always greet guests as they arrive, whether in person or online. For an in-person Alpha, the Music Leader could play a few songs in the background. Guests can relax and don’t have to participate.
On Week 2, choose two songs that are about God or faith, but not TO God (e.g. Do not sing "I love you Lord" since it requires people to agree with what is being sung, and someone new will not be ready for that). Ask guests to participate if they feel comfortable.
The Alpha leader or the Music Leader can briefly comment before the music begins in order to put people at ease. Say something like, "Since this is a course about the Christian faith, we want you to experience a key part - music and singing. It's like a prayer to God with music. Please sit back and enjoy. You don't have to sing along unless you want to." Please avoid long explanations.
By Week 4, people are starting to connect. At this point, introduce songs that are sung more directly TO God than ABOUT God. Include a brief explanation of what worship is--thanking and adoring God and opening our hearts to Him.
For the Alpha Time Away or weekend in person, guests will be observing the Christians in the group as they worship. They will learn as you model how to praise and worship God. We don't want to restrict Christians from outward expressions of worship; however, we do want them to be mindful that some Alpha guests may have never experienced this setting. We want to remind them that Alpha is for the guests and we want to do everything we can to make them comfortable.
For more info, please see these videos:
Worship on Alpha by Tim Hughes (3.5 min)