A dun night on the Alpha Course.

A fun night on the Alpha Course by alphadarius on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Is coming to faith a matter of crisis or process? Or both? In the last couple of decades, churches seem to have shied away from the ‘crisis’ approach to evangelism seen in the big meetings (let’s be careful about the use of the word ‘crusade’), in favour of courses which expose enquirers to the content of the Christian Gospel over a period of weeks or even months. Some also have crossover value in refreshing existing Christians of core beliefs, and of building up discipleship.

It seems apposite to mention this, given that the Church of England has recently announced a new course entitled ‘Pilgrim’, based on famous biblical texts such as the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. While there is still a chance to reach some people with a folk memory of Christianity, the C of E is trying to reach them.

You may have had experience of other courses. Alpha is of course the most famous one, but there is also Christianity Explored, Essence, Disciple and Emmaus, to mention just a few that come immediately to mind. What has been good about these courses for you? What do you think should be different about them?


3 thoughts on “Courses

  1. This is interesting. I’m currently reading a book called “Evangelism, – which way now?” which compares various courses and the strengths and weaknesses of each. This is part of a module I am doing on evangelism, so I’d be interested to know if anyone has experience of these courses, how effective they were or why, if a leader, you decided to go with one rather than another.

    One thing they said about the Alpha course, which I hadn’t realised, is that there is a copyright on the content and they do not allow churches to adapt the material to their own settings or communities. So the 15 talks are essentially the same as they were when it started – irrespective of whether people are starting from that place, or asking the same questions. I agree also that the theological emphasis is different in some of the courses.

    • Yes, that is true of Alpha, Gill. They do not allow you to change the theological emphasis, because they realised other people wanted to ride on the coat tails of Alpha’s high profile and change the teaching from that which HTB believed. It is something like a franchise to do Alpha. I’m not sure you have to include all the ‘When I was at Oxford’, ‘My lovely wife Pippa’, and ‘When I was playing squash’ stories, though!

      • No, probably not Dave – for speakers. Churches which use the video hear the same talks and same jokes over and over. What I, and I think this book, meant was that there will always be a talk called, for example, “is Chistianity boring, irrelevant and untrue?” – irrespective of whether non Christians are asking that question. Maybe 15 years ago, or whenever, most non Christians were saying “I don’t believe Christianity is true or relevant to me today”; if so, it was a good place to start. I don’t know if that is necessarily the case today, though. (Might be, I don’t know.)

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