from the Beta
Administrator's and Facilitator's Manual
Administrating a Beta course in your church or organisation
This section is designed to take you through all the stages of setting up a Beta course. The Administrator for a Beta course in your church (or organisation) might be the minister or leader, the Beta Facilitator, or a separate person assigned with this important task. Administrators may wish to photocopy Sections 1 and 2, or download them from the website. These two sections provides the guidance an administrator will need to successfully organise a Beta course.
Good administration gives people the confidence that the course will be worthwhile. Your commitment to the highest standard of administration, involving the organisation and communication of the dates, personnel, venue, and handling of money, will encourage people to participate fully in the course.
The Administrator's tasks take place primarily during the planning and preparation stages, followed by a few duties in the first two weeks of the course. After that, the running of Beta is in the Facilitator's hands.
Planning a Beta course
3-6 months in advance
1. Appoint a Beta Administrator. Choose one person to take responsibility to organise and communicate the practical details of the course, the venue, handling of money, and advertising (using the Beta PR materials available from the website).
2. Familiarise yourself with Beta through the website, brochures (which can be ordered or downloaded via the website), and the Taster video. If you haven't done so already, you can order a Taster video (26 min.) from the website to preview excerpts of the entire course. A 3 minute 'Mini-Taster' can be viewed on the website:
3. Ensure that you have the support of the leader and other decision makers if you are not the leader of the church or organisation. The best way to do this is to show the Taster video (and brochure) to enable those in positions of responsibility to make an informed choice.
4. Appoint your Beta Facilitator/s. The Facilitator needs to be a person with prior experience of running small groups (such as home groups). Home group leaders, pastoral carers and counsellors, ministers, teachers, experienced lay workers, and people with a background in psychology will make good Beta Facilitators. (As mentioned at the start, the Administrator and the Facilitator might be one and the same person, although it is always preferable to share the workload if this is possible).
The Facilitator 's role is to take responsibility for running the sessions. The Facilitator does not need to be an expert in the content of the course. All the teaching material is provided via the videos and Booklets. A Facilitator's main responsibility concerns the dynamics within the group, and keeping the sessions to time.
As the Beta Administrator, begin by thinking about a pool of suitable individuals you might approach to become Facilitators. They too will need to learn about Beta (through the brochure and website, and by seeing the Taster video). Your job as Administrator will be to make sure that they too are able to make an informed choice.
It is important that each Beta course has not more than 12 participants. Thus you will need the correct number of Facilitators and venues to accommodate the numbers interested. If only one person is available to facilitate the course, then run Beta courses sequentially.
A good Facilitator is a person who is comfortable with handling the dynamics of groups of 8-12 people in a way which provides a strong lead, ensures that the interactions within the group are helpful to the members, while not adopting an overly-controlling style. Beta sessions ideally allow people to 'be where they are at' in a group in which helpful boundaries are maintained. A useful acid test is to ask yourself: 'Would I want my best friend to be in a Beta group facilitated by this person?' Invite your minister in on these decisions.
6. Appoint a Helper to support each Facilitator during the sessions. A Helper does not need to have prior experience in leading groups; in fact, being a Helper is a good way to get some initial experience in leading small groups. The Helper, however, does need to be committed to coming to all the sessions.
7. Order the Beta full package
(allow two weeks for processing and delivery of your order)
8. Find suitable venue/s and Hosts
The ideal venue is a living room with:
- a large screen TV (24 inch or more) with video
- enough comfortable chairs for 8-12 people
- a flip chart, or a large A1 tablet of paper, to jot down points arising from group discussions.
You may decide to run one course at a time, or several in parallel, depending upon the numbers interested. You will need to find the right number of venues (ideally a living room), and to order the requisite number of Beta packages. Finding a venue also means finding one or two Hosts per venue (to look after the practicalities of the room and hospitality).
9. Develop a system of accounting for expenditures and income. Expenditures comprise the cost of the full Beta package which includes:
- a Taster video for Session 1 (with the Mini-Taster for PR),
- the subsequent 9 teaching videos,
- the Facilitator's Training video,
- Beta Administrator's and Facilitator's Manual
(the above for £85)
A set of 12 Beta Participant's Booklets (paid for separately, £3 per booklet), is delivered with the course. This is a cost which can be reimbursed by the participants. These fully illustrated booklets (93 pages) provide a complete guide and summary for every aspect of the entire course.
Extra expenditures may include
- the cost of extra Participants Booklets (sold in packs of 6),
- the cost of colour posters (A3 and A4) or colour brochures ordered via the website for advertising Beta in your church or organisation.
Income may include:
- contributions for any suppers or refreshments
- participants (optional) payment for their own Participant's Booklets.
10. Win the interest of those in your church or organisation using the PR materials available from the website:
- high quality colour brochures (order from the website or email)
- black and white photocopy-able brochures (download from the website)
- high quality glossy A3 and A4 Beta posters (order from the website or email)
- black and white A3 and A4 posters (download from the website)
- A5 black and white 'pew flyers' for providing local information (download from the website)
- Mini-Taster (3-4 minutes) at the start of Taster video giving a brief overview
- full Taster video (26 minutes) providing excerpts from each of the teaching sessions
Preparing for a Beta course
2-4 weeks in advance
1. Set date and venue for Facilitators and Helpers to watch the Beta Training video (50 minutes, plus discussion time).
The Facilitator/s and Helper/s need to watch the Training Video, preferably together. Discussion points are provided at the beginning of Section 3 in this manual. Talking together about the principles of facilitation enhances the learning process. This can be done in one or two sessions. (A suggested break point comes part way through the Training video, followed by discussion points).
The Facilitator will also need to read carefully this entire Administrator's and Facilitator's Manual. Encourage the Facilitator to schedule in this important time commitment.
2. Administrator to give a brief public introduction to Beta once permission and support is given by the minister/leader.
This could be done during weekly church announcements or some other suitable time. If you have a video projector and screen suitable for the size of the group you are addressing, you can do this most effectively by showing the 3-4 minute 'Mini-taster' which gives a brief overview of Beta. If a video projector is not available, you can download some A4 visuals for overhead projector transparencies and an outline for a 2-3 minute talk from the website (see Short Beta Introduction on website).
Support this short public introductory talk with posters around the building or church, and Beta brochures. Invite people to find out more for themselves by visiting the website:
(note: While Beta was designed for Christians who are seeking to develop their faith, personal lives and church community, you need not discourage 'seekers' from coming to the 'Find Out More' Session 1. Beta is rich in Bible teaching and may help draw people towards the Christian faith.)
3. During this brief introductory talk, suggest a convenient date for the 'Find Out More' Session 1 and provide a preliminary sign up sheet.
'Find Out More' Session 1 involves:
- a meal or refreshments
- showing the 26 minute Taster video followed by a brief discussion
- those who wish to can sign up for the rest of the course.
4. Arrange a suitable venue for 'Find Out More' Session 1. The size of venue you need will be based on this first sign-up sheet accompanying your short public introduction to Beta.
The Administrator needs to communicate this date and venue to all interested in coming to Session 1. If you have more than 15 people coming to this first session you will need to use a video projector with a large enough screen. Our experience has taught us that watching the Taster video on a TV screen that is too small or too far away will fail to evoke interest. You may also need to connect external speakers as video projectors do not always provide adequate sound amplification. It is important to go to the effort of getting the right equipment for the 'Find Out More' Session 1. Test out your equipment in advance! This equipment can be borrowed or hired (and will only be required for Session 1).
5. Decide whether you want to serve a meal at the 'Find Out More' Session 1.
If so, make the meal as enjoyable as possible. Don't make the meal too difficult to prepare and serve, but do make it delicious! During the meal, don't discuss 'serious' issues; simply enjoy!
Perhaps you will prefer simply to serve coffee and tea (and perhaps a dessert). The Administrator will assign (if not carry out!) the preparing and hosting of the meal or refreshments. Further guidance for running Session 1 starts in Section 2, Guidance for running a 'Find Out More' Session.
Running a Beta course
Administrator's tasks following Session 1
1. Decide venues and dates for Sessions 2-9
At the end of 'Find Out more' Session 1, people have decided whether they want to participate in the rest of the course. Based on these numbers, the Administrator now decides on the venues. Provisional weekly (or bi-monthly) dates for the rest of the sessions will have already been canvassed.
The numbers of participants signed up for the whole course will determine how many Beta courses you will need to run (and therefore how many venues, Facilitators, Hosts and Helpers you will need, and whether you will run these in parallel, or sequentially).
Most churches and teaching organisations run courses according to the academic terms. When setting dates it might be useful the bear in mind fitting in Sessions 2-9 either from Christmas to Easter, or Easter to Summer, or Autumn to Christmas.
Communicate these details with all concerned. As well as verbal or face to face communication, you can use the black and white A5 'flyers', download-able from the Beta website, which provides a space for local information concerning the dates and venue/s.
2. Order more Beta packages or Participants Booklets if needed.
3. Collect money for Beta Participants Booklets
If your church or organisation wishes to recoup the cost of these booklets, this can be collected, for example, at Session 2.
In this case, the final task for the Administrator is to ensure that the money for the Participants Booklets is collected, recorded, and passed on to the relevant person.
4. Keep in touch with the venue Hosts and Facilitator/s
Reminders of your availability to help with practical matters will help those leading the course to feel supported.
We would like to express our thanks to the Alpha Course for the practical advice we have drawn from the Alpha Administrator's Handbook and Alpha training material. As Beta is run in different parts of the country, new lessons will be learned. Keep an eye on the FAQs on the Beta website, where we will address new issues as they arise.
Guidance for running a 'Find Out More' Session 1
for Administrators and Facilitators
This first 'Find Out More' session should last approximately 90 minutes. The above section outlined the Administrator's tasks, and to re-cap, these include organising for Session 1 the following:
1. Welcome meal or refreshments (40 min.)
You will have decided what kind of catering you want to provide for Session 1, and from this point forwards these guidance notes will assume that you have carried that out with aplomb!
It is helpful to have Helpers greet people at the door and show them to the buffet or seating.
If a meal has been provided an easy (and non-pressurising) way to recoup the cost is simply to put a basket with a label 'contributions for dinner' on or near the table.
Some churches may wish to use name badges for Session 1 so that guests can learn each others' names. This is not necessary, but do so if this is customary for your church or organisation.
2. Facilitator's introduction to Beta (5 min.)
After the meal or refreshments, once people are seated in chairs arranged for a good view of the screen, the minister may wish to welcome everyone.
We recommend that the appointed Facilitator/s then lead Session 1 so that people can meet them.
The Facilitator, after introducing him/herself, will simply re-cap, in their own words, the short introduction to the Beta course (already given, for example, during prior church notices) along with any other relevant comments the Facilitator wishes to make. (The short Introduction to Beta is available on the website).
3. Show the Taster video (26 minutes.)
Show the video (already pre-tested for any sound or visual difficulties).
4. Discussion in 2's and 3's (5 min.)
Afterwards, the Facilitator then invites people to form into groups of 2's or 3's for a brief informal discussion. The Facilitator can suggested some discussion points, such as:
- What was your response?
- Did anything in particular connect with you?
The Facilitator invites people to decide whether they would like to participate in the rest of the course. Don't make a 'meal' out of this; encourage people to take the course, but let this be an unpressured choice. If Beta doesn't seem relevant or appropriate for some individuals at this point, reassure them that they can always sign up at a later date.
Formally close Session 1 (with a prayer, or whatever seems appropriate), and invite people to mingle, or have a cup of coffee, before leaving.
The Administrator needs to provide a sign up sheet for Beta.
The Administrator will then organise the dates and venues, and communicate this with the signed-up participants.
In summary, the key aims for the 'Find Out More' Session 1 are to provide an opportunity:
- for people to enjoy time together (with a meal or refreshments)
- to see the Taster video (26 min.) which provides excerpts from each of the teaching sessions
- to discuss in groups of 2's or 3's responses to the video
- to decide whether or not they want to sign up for the rest of the Beta course
- to receive practical information concerning the rest of the course
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