What is Alpha?

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Alpha is a small group strategy with powerful evangelism and discipleship results. Learn more about this tool from Pastor Dave and Diane Huizenga. They have joined the conversation to share their experience with Alpha and answer your questions.Guest blog by Diane Huizenga, Bridgewood Church

One woman attended Alpha along with her husband who was a leader in the church. She had been struggling with depression and had no recent history of being involved in the church. She was very quiet and did not speak for several weeks during the small group time. After one of the talks she shared how she was impacted by the illustration of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. She had a choice to make……to open the door and let him in, or not, either way he would keep knocking. That night there was a shift. She began to share more openly after that. She then became a group helper on the next course. At the retreat she prayed with power and passion over people as they came up for prayer. She cried for people as she prayed for them. Her depression has eased and she has a smile now when I say "hi." I watched God transform a life.

How does Alpha work? Alpha is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests can explore the meaning of life and ask questions in a non-threatening relaxed setting. The traditional Alpha course is 10 weeks long and includes a day or weekend long retreat half-way through the course. Alpha is simple and includes 3 components that are key: A meal shared together, a DVD, and discussion in small groups. Alpha is for everyone.

Some of the topics covered are:

  • Is Christianity boring or irrelevant today?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • Why and how should I read the Bible?
  • Who is the Holy Spirit?
  • How can I resist evil?
  • Does God still heal today?
  • How does God guide us?
  • Why pray?

A typical Alpha night begins with a meal, snack, or refreshments. This is a time of relaxation and fun. We have found this to be a crucial part of Alpha where real community happens over a shared meal. The meal is followed by a “Talk”. Many churches use the DVD set featuring Nicky Gumbel (the senior pastor at Holy Trinity Brompton, home to the Alpha course in London, England). Talks may also be given live. The DVD/Talk is followed by discussion in small groups. Any question is acceptable. The leader is actually more of a host or hostess. The main 2 questions asked are “What do you think?” and “What are you feeling” after listening to the talk. The emphasis is on exploration and discovery in a relaxed and non-judgmental environment.

Does Alpha work?

Yes, the statistics show that 50% of people who attend an Alpha course make a 1st time or a recommitment to Christ. That is an amazing statistic which we have found to be true.

Is Alpha difficult to run?

Alpha is not difficult to begin. The Alpha organization has wonderful tools for training and support via the web, phone, and most areas have regional directors who can help you get started. An Alpha course can be big or small, in a church or home, used at work, in prisons, and college campuses.

Every course God is at work. That’s what I love about Alpha, it is about letting God do the work in people’s lives through the Holy Spirit. We provide the place, the food, and the truth is presented clearly in the Talk. “Alpha is more than another program. It’s about people coming to Jesus Christ, being filled with the Spirit, getting excited about Jesus and spending the rest of their lives serving Him.”-Nicky Gumbel.

If you don’t know anything about Alpha and would like to know more, you can explore the Alpha website, www.alpha.org. The website is awesome! There are so many tools available, people to talk to, and people to pray with and for you. They provide any tool you might possible need to get started from promotional videos, post cards to send out, weekly lesson support, conferences, training events across the US, it goes on and on. You may also contact me via this blog with any questions you might have.  

Posted in: Small Groups; Blog Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike52ad/3316624350/in/photostream/ Image: See Credit

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