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Resourcing the Church the Alpha way…

Resourcing the Church the Alpha way…

Many churches are already aware of the Alpha Course, but books are also a great entry point for those outside the Church, says Catherine Clark, Senior Global Project Manager at Alpha International.

A group of near-strangers meet. They share food. They watch a film clip together. And then quickly transition from small talk to discussing some of the big questions around the Christian faith. Is there more to life than this? Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? Sure, it can sometimes be awkward. There can be uncomfortable silences and opposing opinions but that’s what forms the backbone of the journey on Alpha and what’s remarkable is that these near-strangers often become close life-long friends. 

Alpha is, of course, just the starting point for many people. There simply isn’t time on what is now a 10 week course to ask everything there is to be asked, or learn everything there is to learn.

The first Alpha, run in 1977 at Holy Trinity Brompton, was a 4-week course designed for new Christians. When Nicky Gumbel inherited it in 1990, he saw the potential for it to be run for people outside the Church, who did not call themselves Christians. Since then, Alpha has grown: over 25 million people have now done Alpha and in 2017 it ran in over 100 countries.

Alpha is for everyone. Take Xola from South Africa – he did Alpha in prison, having been incarcerated for possession of fire arms. He experienced God’s love for him, and after his release started running Alpha through his church. He sees Alpha as a way to invite people in, a great way for people to connect. Xola sees that not everyone likes being invited to church, but Alpha is different. There’s a relaxed environment and people getting to know each other as they explore bigger questions. 

Alpha exists to equip the Church in its mission to help people discover and deepen a relationship with Jesus. By training and equipping local leaders to run Alpha, guests’ lives are transformed, but also churches are changed and renewed. A culture of hospitality, openness and invitation develops, leaders are released and congregations grow. An authentic community is built, visible and attractive outside the Church.

Alpha is, of course, just the starting point for many people. There simply isn’t time on what is now a 10-week course to ask everything there is to be asked, or learn everything there is to learn. So to support this learning, we also publish a number of titles which are relevant not only for new Christians, but also for anyone more broadly searching for answers. 

Nicky Gumbel has written books that make exploring the big questions exciting. He writes with wisdom and wit, so that the books are easily accessible to everyone, whatever stage of their faith journey they are on, and have impacted the lives of millions of people around the globe. Questions of Life has sold over 1.6 million copies worldwide. The book explores key themes and questions, leading us on an engaging, personal journey of discovery. Searching Issues provides straight answers for difficult questions and common objections to the Christian faith. A Life Worth Living is a practical guide to uncovering in us a new heart, purpose, attitude and confidence in how we live our lives. The Jesus Lifestyle explains how to live a radically different lifestyle than the world dictates, based on Jesus’ teachings. 

Alpha also runs Marriage and Parenting Courses, developed by Nicky and Sila Lee. These courses act as a bridge between the Church and local community by recognising the need to go beyond the social, as well as physical, walls of the church to help couples and families with their relationships. Marriages and families have been transformed by the content of these courses. Two books, both by Nicky and Sila, cover the topics presented on these courses: The Marriage Book is engaging and full of practical advice. Equally practical, The Parenting Book is a resource that parents come back to again and again.

Further titles include All I Want Is You by former vicar of HTB Sandy Millar, and Café Theology in which Michael Lloyd invites us to travel on a mind-stretching journey from Creation to New Creation, offering a rich and human view of life and Life-Giver. 

 
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