The Alpha Course
Alpha is a 10 session practical introduction to the Christian faith. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed setting over ten thought-provoking weekly sessions, with a weekend away. It is designed primarily for people who aren't churchgoers and is open to everyone who would like to attend. Most courses attract a diverse range of people of different ages and backgrounds, holding many different viewpoints.
Hope Community Church has been running the Alpha Course for eighteen years but the course's origins date back to the late 1970s when it began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London. Initially, Alpha was a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting. By 1990, when former barrister Nicky Gumbel took over the course, Alpha was a central feature of the church's life. It was while leading his second Alpha course that Nicky realised how this simple course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted the course to give it the kind of feel that would suit this group.
The Alpha course spread during the 1990s, initially in the UK and then internationally, as more churches and groups found it a helpful way to answer questions about the Christian faith in an informal setting. There are now over 33,500 courses worldwide in 169 countries and it is supported by all the major denominations. Over 19 million people worldwide have now attended an Alpha course, an opportunity to explore the meaning of life, running in tens of thousands of churches of all denominations across the world.
The Alpha course is organised as a series of sessions over 10 weeks. It typically includes supper or a meal, a talk (often a video of one by Nicky Gumbel) and then discussion in small groups. The talks aim to cover the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. The complete list of talk titles, which follows the chapters of Gumbel's book Questions of Life, is:
Is there more to life than this? (previously Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?)
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus die?
How can we have faith?
Why and how do I pray?
Why and how should I read the Bible?
How does God guide us?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
What does the Holy Spirit do?
How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?
How can I resist evil?
Why and how should I tell others?
Does God heal today?
What about the church?
How can I make the most of the rest of my Life?
Attenders are issued with The Alpha Course Manual, which contains an outline of each talk and space for making notes. For any further information on Alpha, contact Pastor Alan Battersby on 0425 843 190 or email alan(at)hope.org.au.