What is The Alpha Course?
All over the world the Christian church is experiencing remarkable
growth. New shoots of life are springing up giving fresh dynamism,
hope and vision. The Alpha Course is one of these shoots.
Hundreds of Christian Alpha courses are now running
in many countries. Hundreds more courses register each month as
church leaders from all Christian denominations report the astonishing
impact the course has on non-churchgoers and existing Christians
in their areas. And it's spreading fast to many secular locations
- prisons, businesses and schools.
on The Business Alpha Course
The Alpha Course was developed at Holy Trinity
Brompton Church in 1977-9 by Charles Marnham and later improved
by Nicky Gumbel. When Gumbel joined
the church’s staff in 1986, he noticed that unchurched people
were attending Marnham’s class. He adapted the series for
"guests" -- people who knew little or nothing about Christianity
-- and recorded it as 15 video lectures.
Over the past 20 years, Alpha is a 15-session practical introduction
to the Christian faith. It's aimed especially at people who don't
go to church. At Holy Trinity Brompton Alpha courses are held throughout
the year and have hundreds of people attending each week.
Course for Kids and Children
The syllabus for the course is contained in the
book Questions of Life. Some courses are held during the day. Most
are evening courses. At the evening events, there is a light meal
followed by a talk on a subject central to the Christian faith.
Then participants break into pre-arranged groups of around 10-12
people (in which they remain for the entire course) to discuss the
talk in an environment where each person should feel free to ask
or express whatever they wish. A team of around three or four 'leaders'
or 'helpers' from the host church are attached to each group. There
is also a weekend away during which the subject of the Holy Spirit
Advertising on Televeision
How did Alpha Course begin?
The Alpha course has been running for 20 years, but it was only
in 1993 that its astonishing possibilities as a vehicle for evangelism
began to emerge. This is the story of how it happened:
Alpha Course - The Alpha Course In Auatralia
Twenty years ago, Charles Marnham, a clergyman
at Holy Trinity Brompton, London, began looking for a means of presenting
the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in
a relaxed and informal setting. He devised the Alpha Course.
Brompton on The Alpha Course
The talks addressed such questions as 'Who is
Jesus?', 'How and why do I pray?' and 'How does God guide us?'.
When Charles Marnham moved on, others took over leadership of the
course and made their own changes. By the time Nicky Gumbel took
over Alpha in 90 the course was a central feature of the church's
life, with the number of participants regularly totalling around
100 people on each course.
American Alpha Courses in USA
It was while leading his second Alpha course that
Nicky made a discovery which transformed the church's whole approach
to the course and gave it a new dynamic. As he looked around the
13 members of his 'small group', he realized to his surprise that
apart from the three Christian helpers, all the other 10 members
of the group were non-churchgoers.
Course in Ireland
"They had all the normal objections: 'What
about other religions?'; 'What about suffering?', and so on - and
we had a stormy first six weeks," he said. Then they went away
on the weekend and all 10 announced their Christian conversion together.
about HTB Pastor Nicky Gumbel
The experience transformed Nicky's thinking about
Alpha. He realized how this simple course in basic Christianity
could become a powerful medium for evangelism. He quickly worked
to give the course the kind of ‘feel’ that would be
particularly attractive to non-churchgoers.
oposition to The Alpha Course - pls make your own mind up!
The method of welcome, the atmosphere of the small
groups, the food, the seating, the flowers, the sound, and the material
of the talks themselves were all changed to make them as attractive
as possible to the person who walked in 'off the street'.
He emphasised to the Alpha small group leaders
that no question should be treated as too trivial, threatening or
illogical. Every question would be addressed courteously and thoughtfully
- and none would ever be 'pestered' if they chose not to continue
with the course. Nicky Gumbel explains: "It's
all friendship-based. There's no knocking on doors - it's friends
One of the greatest areas of growth recently
has been in the prisons, with 125 of the 162 prisons in the UK now
running the course and in 48 countries. Alpha is also running in
churches, homes, schools, businesses, hospitals and over 74% of
More on The Alpha Course: The 03 survey by MORI
shows that 9.5-10 million adults across Britain now know about The
Alpha Course and approximately 1.6 million are estimated to have
completed an Alpha course. The MORI report revealed, ‘A fifth
of British adults are aware that The Alpha Course is a Christian
course. This is the highest level of awareness of the Alpha course
since the start of measures in 1999.’
National Alpha Initiatives have also been launched
in New Zealand, Canada and Australia and in many other countries,
including the United States, where plans are being made for their
Alpha International, Holy Trinity Brompton,
Brompton Road, London SW7 1JA,
You should also for balanced reading, see what
some people who are opposed to The Alpha Course are saying... though
I don't necessarily agree - there is some truth in what they say
about the seriousness of the Christian message I do agree. See what
you think but remember nobody - not even the church is pefect and
we can only do our best - and let's hope that doesnt mean descending
into worldliness. Read with an open mind and see what God tells
you about the ways we can preach to a modern generation that in
many senses is out of control - no easy task!
"The campaign included distribution of "Millennium Survival
Kits" in London’s Covent Garden by supporters of the
Alpha Course. The Alpha people were dressed as street entertainers
and sported party hats, and the kits they distributed were complete
with Alka Seltzer, bottle opener, party hat, party popper, and an
invitation to the Alpha Course. "By appearing like ‘one
of the party crowd,’ it was evidently hoped to make the Christian
faith slot comfortably alongside the usual pursuits of modern-day
urban life" (Christian Research Network Newsletter, No. 7,
1999, Essex, United Kingdom).
What confusion! The world needs to know that the
things of Christ are of great solemnity. True Christianity is about
life and death, Heaven and Hell. Bible Christianity is not a worldly
party; it is redemption from sin by the blood of Christ and holiness
of life to the glory of Christ. "For the kingdom of God is
not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17). The preaching of the Gospel in
the early churches was accomplished with great solemnity. Can you
imagine John the Baptist passing out party poppers to the self-righteous
Jews outside of Jerusalem, or the Apostle Paul distributing party
hats to the unsaved idolaters at Athens!
Just as the Bible prophesies, the world
in these end times is filled with unscriptural churches that preach
a false gospel, worship a false christ, and are empowered by a false
spirit". (Matt. 24:3,4,11,24; 2 Cor. 11:1-4; 2 Peter 2:1,2;
1 John 4:1; Jude 3,4).
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