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We recently conducted an Alpha course as part of the Alberta 2013 Alpha movement. Although Alpha has been around for years, I had never taken nor led a course. So it was all new for me! I’d heard many positive testimonies about Alpha. But it’s been around so long — would it still work? 
We chose to use Campus Alpha because it’s shorter (7 weeks). I’ve found that in our busy, face-paced Central Albertan culture, 7 weeks is a considerable commitment. But most of our “guests” did their best to commit to the course. And once they experienced the fun, food, fellowship, and faith of Alpha, most of them kept coming back for more!

And they didn’t just return for the food! As important as the meal is in Alpha, I think many hungered for something deeper: friendship. I was amazed how quickly friendships were formed through Alpha. After all, you don’t eat with the same people every Wednesday night for 7 weeks, without becoming bonded! So, if you’re looking to build relationships in your church and community, Alpha can help.

It’s also a great way to train leaders. Happily, we had some young leaders step up to be table hosts, and this was a great way to train them. I believe they all grew as spiritual leaders over the seven weeks — thanks be to God! So I would encourage you to consider Alpha as a form of leadership development. 

But I think the best thing that happened through our Alpha is that we became more gospel-centered. Alpha does a fine job introducing people to the person and work of Jesus. The gospel is clearly and winsomely communicated. So if you are looking for a ministry that will help people to proclaim and receive the gospel, then I encourage you to consider Alpha.  

Based on our experience, I’m pleased to report that Alpha still works!


Back when I was a dispensational baptist I knew exactly what "Alpha still works" meant and implied. Since I read "The Institutes" cover to cover and "got reformed" I no longer know. How does the concept of "Alpha still works" apply to the teaching of John Calvin? The Holy Spirit retroactively applies the Alpha text to a specific person before God created the universe? God regenerated (past tense) a person because God knew the person would attend an Alfa meeting?

Leon Johnston on December 18, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi Bill,

Thank you for the feedback.  I'm not quite sure how to answer your question, except to say that Alpha "works" as a tool for receiving and proclaiming the gospel.  We had a few people with little or no faith grow spiritually during our Alpha course--thanks be to God! Happily, the Lord uses "tools" like Alpha to invite people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus.  And I'm very thankful for it.  And I think one of the main reasons that Alpha is so effective is that it functions sort of like a modern-day, accessible catechism classis--which I suspect John Calvin would appreciate!

Have a Blessed Season of Advent and Merry Christmas!


John Zylstra on December 18, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bill, maybe it would not be wrong to say that your power saw still works.... even though you know that it takes someone to operate it, and that it needs power to make it work.    Just that analogy work for you? 

At our church we just finished out 11th Alpha session since 2004. It always amazes me who God sends to these courses. Over the years many new people have become members of our church through Alpha. Being in a very large multi-cultural city, this past season we saw three students from China who have never before heard the gospel, a woman from a Hindu family who became a Christian a year ago, a Christian who is married to a Muslim, plus Christians from Guyana, India and Canada. With such a mixture of people it is wonderful to see a bond of belonging developing quite quickly. It is a challenge though to know where to begin when there is absolutely no biblical knowledge. Alpha is a great tool and the Holy Spirit uses this tool to bless our church community. Sometimes, and especially for the students from China, belonging to a loving group of people who care for them comes before believing. Praise God for the way He works.

Leon Johnston on January 1, 2014

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hello Pat,

Thank you for passing on your testimony re. Alpha. 

I fully agree with your assessment: He works, and happily He uses Alpha as an effective tool. 

Thanks be to God!

And what a blessing to be part of the ministry of making disciples!

I pray the Lord will continue to use bless Alpha to reach people for Christ in your community.

--Leon H. Johnston

"I fully agree with your assessment: /He works/, and happily /He/ uses Alpha
as an effective tool."

Agree! But God uses Alpha for exactly what? To regenerate people? To convert regenerate people? Or to invite converted people into the Church?


Leon Johnston on January 4, 2014

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


I found that the Lord used Alpha to do at least three things in our church and community: (1) train leaders; (2) focus on Jesus; and (3) help us to receive and proclaim the gospel.

So, although Alpha is an effective evangelistic tool, happily it does even more than that.  Accordingly, it is a helpful tool on many levels.

I would encourage you to serve in an Alpha Course, if possible, and experience it for yourself.

Peace of Christ!

Leon H. Johnston

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