The Alpha Course is a Christian course whose website states that it is designed primarily for people who aren't churchgoers, to “explore” the Christian faith. Courses are run in a variety of locations (and it is claimed, in every major UK city). The site also claims that 2 million people in the UK (With 2007 estimated population figures, this is approximately 1 out of every 30 people), and 11 million people worldwide have now attended the course.
Begun in the late 1970’s in London by Revd Charles Marnham at Holy Trinity, Brompton, as a course for church members, and then as an introduction for those interested in faith. The course was revamped in 1990 by barrister Nicky Gumbel (Who claims to be an ex-atheist, converted after reading the New Testament), and now claims 33,500 courses worldwide in 163 countries supported by all the major denominations. Links to Alpha Courses can be found on the Alpha Course website for many countries, including Australia, Russia, and The United States of America.
Small groups meet for 2 hours over 10 weeks, hosted by a leader. A day or weekend away is also included. Alpha claim the courses are free. Topics are listed as follows;
- Week 1 Who is Jesus?
- Week 2 Why did Jesus Die?
- Week 3 How can we have Faith?
- Week 4 Why and how do I Pray?
- Week 5 Why and how should I read the Bible?
- Week 6 How does God Guide us?
- Week 7 How can I Resist Evil?
- Week 8 Why and how should I tell Others?
- Week 9 Does God Heal Today?
- Week 10 What about the Church?
Day or weekend away
- 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?
The course attempts to cover areas of Christianity that all denominations can agree upon – ignoring the discrepancies between them.
Some conservative Christians view the course as not going far enough to present biblical teachings.