What is Alpha?
Alpha gives everyone the opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course usually meets once a week for 10 weeks, including a weekend retreat. Sessions begin with a meal, followed by a short talk and time to discuss what’s been taught. During the discussion, everyone is welcome to contribute their opinions and no question is considered hostile or too simple. Questions might include “Is there a God?” “Why am I here?” “Where did I come from?” “Where am I going?”
Alpha is a worldwide phenomenon. Currently there are more than 60,000 courses run in 169 countries! Alpha is supported by all major denominations and an estimated 18 million people have now attended a course globally. Is it your turn?
Who Is Alpha For?
Alpha is for anyone, and people attend from all backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints. They come to investigate questions about the existence of God, the purpose of life, the afterlife, the claims of Jesus, and more. Some people want to get beyond religion and find a relationship with God that really changes life. Others come for the close, long-lasting friendships that are built during the Alpha course. Many have never been to church. Others may have attended church occasionally but feel they have never really understood the basics of the Christian faith. Everyone is welcome.
What Happens at Alpha?
Each gathering begins with a meal and a chance to get to know others. Then there’s a short talk that looks at a different aspect of the Christian faith each week. This is followed by a time of discussion in small groups, where everyone is welcome to contribute their opinion and ask questions. People usually stay in the same small groups for the duration of the course so they can get to know each other, continue discussions, and deepen friendships. The emphasis is upon exploration and discovery in a relaxed and informal environment.
The talks each week cover the following topics, which serve as a springboard for the small group discussions:
- Alpha Party: Is there more to life than this?
- Week 1: Who is Jesus?
- Week 2: Why did Jesus die?
- Week 3: How can we have faith?
- Week 4: Why and how do I pray?
- Week 5: Why and how should I read the Bible?
- Week 6: How does God guide us?
- Week 7: How can I resist evil?
- Week 8: Why and how should we tell others?
- Week 9: Does God heal today?
- Week 10: What about the church?
- Weekend: Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can I make the most of the rest of my life?
Is There a Way to Attend on a Trial Basis?
Yes! Attend the Alpha Party to see if you might like the Alpha Course. The Alpha Party is the first week of the course. If Alpha is not a good fit for you, you can opt out after the Alpha Party.
How Did Alpha Start?
The Alpha Course has been running for more than 30 years. It began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, England, in the late 1970s as a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting. By 1990, when former lawyer Nicky Gumbel took over the course, Alpha was a central feature of the church’s life. While leading his second Alpha course, Nicky realized this course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted it, making it welcoming and suitable for such individuals. Nicky sent the Alpha course content to representatives of 44 denominations to see if they had disagreements with the material. None asked that anything be removed. Although a few asked that some of their particular denominational materials be added, it wasn’t because the Alpha Course is designed so that it can be used as widely as possible.
How Do I Sign-Up for an Alpha Course?
Go to St. Paul's Hub and click on the “New Groups” button to see if the Alpha Course is currently being offered and to register online. Course offerings are also announced in the St. Paul’s Weekly and The Messenger monthly newsletter.
More Alpha Information
You can find out more about Alpha at alphausa.org. We hope you will join us for our next course!