What is Alpha?
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith. Typically run over eleven weeks, each session looks at a different question that people can have about faith and is designed to create conversation. It’s just an open, informal and honest space to explore and discuss life’s big questions together.
What does Alpha look like?
There isn’t really an average Alpha. Alpha is run in local communities all around the world, and everyone’s welcome. It runs in cafés, churches, bars, prisons, parks, universities, schools, homes—you name it. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good conversation.
Whether it’s a group of friends gathered around a kitchen table, or a quick catch-up over coffee and cake, food has a way of bringing people together. It’s no different at Alpha. Most sessions start with food, because it’s a great way to build community and get to know each other.
The talks are designed to engage guests and inspire conversation. Usually around thirty minutes long, they can be given as a live talk or played as a video, all for free. They explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions such as Who is Jesus? and How can I have faith?
Probably the most important part of any Alpha: the chance to share thoughts and ideas on the topic, and simply discuss it in a small group. There’s no obligation to say anything and there’s nothing you can’t say (seriously). It’s an opportunity to contribute and hear from others in an honest, friendly and open environment.
Topics covered on Alpha
The talks are designed to engage guests and inspire conversation. Around thirty minutes long, they can be given as a live talk or played as a video. They explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions such as Who is Jesus? and How can we have faith?
There are usually fifteen talks in total, over about ten weeks, but the length and format can be customized to suit a whole host of different environments, for example in prisons or the armed forces, or for youth and student contexts. These are the topics:
- Does God Heal Today?
- What About the Church?
- 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 More to Life Than This?
- 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?
- How Can I Resist Evil?
- Why and How Should I Tell Others?
It is best to hold the weekend or day away between the sessions ‘How Does God Guide Us?’ and ‘How Can I Resist Evil?’
Alpha with Nicky Gumbel: The latest Alpha talks delivered live by Nicky Gumbel in 2014 and 2015. Filmed at HTB, London, these much-awaited videos have been revitalised and re-filmed to provide a complete set of 29-minute Alpha talks for a new generation.
Use this to run your Alpha.
Who are you called to reach?
Invite your youth group, school friends, kids next door, to join hosts Ben and Jason as they travel the world, unpacking the basics of the Christian faith. Alpha has already reached 27 million people. Let’s invite a new generation! Everything is free to download online.
It’s never been easier to run Alpha with students. Using Alpha TV you can run Alpha anywhere, anytime, with anyone at the click of a mouse. All the resources you need to run an 8-week Alpha on campus are available to download free from Alpha Builder.
Alpha is a tool for evangelisation that is being used by thousands of Catholic parishes to introduce people to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. In particular, it is attracting many young people who are asking the question, ‘Is there more to life than this?’
Alpha for forces is adapted to suit service life. It is running in all three services of the British armed forces and within the armed forces of many countries around the world. Run Alpha and create an environment where servicemen can discuss questions about life and the Christian faith.
Empower your church to run Alpha in your local prison. Get in touch with us so that we can support you, get the training so that you’re fully prepared, and use our new scripts to engage your audience. Run Alpha and see lives transformed.
Use Alpha to reach out to your work colleagues and mates in a relaxed and informal environment. Alpha TV allows you to run Alpha anytime, anywhere, with anyone: run it before work, in a lunch break or in a pub at the end of the day. Nothing could be simpler.
Here are some things to consider when planning your Alpha:
Who is your audience?
Who are you running Alpha for? Are you using the best resources for them? Is your venue somewhere they would feel comfortable? Are you running it at a convenient time of day?
The main way to promote your Alpha is to register it so that it appears on the Alpha website. This means that people can search for a nearby Alpha on the try section of the site. If you don’t want your Alpha to appear online, simply select that option during the registration process, but we'd love you to register anyway so that we can support and pray for you.
Other ways promote Alpha include:
- Putting up banners and posters
- Creating invites to give out to friends
- Updating your church website with an Alpha advert
- Setting up a Facebook event for everyone to invite their friends online
- Regularly tweeting news of when your Alpha is starting
If you would like to create your own Alpha publicity, please read our branding guidelines.
You should make sure all your team members have a role on Alpha. It gives them ownership ... and means you have less to worry about!
- Alpha administrator – An essential role; basically the person making sure everything happens. They obviously need to be well organised
- Alpha leader – This person does the introduction to each session, and is prepared to take on pastoral responsibility for guests
- Task force – This is the person or team overseeing behind-the-scenes activities (room set-up, catering, coffee, clear up)
- Hosts and helpers – Hosts and helpers lead the small groups. They need to be: Committed to each session, training, weekend/day away Committed to befriending guests in the long term and praying for them Open to possible social occasions with the group The key to choosing any host or helper for a small group is to ask the question: ‘Would I put my best friend in their group?’ If the answer is no then they probably are in the wrong role
- Worship leader – If you include worship in each session a worship leader might come in handy
We’ll support you every step of the way in running your Alpha – with training videos, tips and video talks, all for free. Get started today.