I’ve been at the Grande Prairie Church of Christ for over 11 years now (That’s right. Good luck getting rid of me now.) My role has changed during my time here, but this coming winter we’re going to come back around to a program that I helped facilitate in my early years here.
We’re going to run an Alpha course.
Some of you may be familiar with Alpha. Some may have never heard of it. Either way, please allow me to bring you up to speed on what it is.
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a 12 week course that introduces the basics of Christian faith and helps to answer some of the common questions that people often ask. Time-wise, it’s about 2 ½ hours for one night each week plus a weekend retreat experience in the middle.
A typical evening experience includes a meal, an engaging video talk on the topic of the evening, and a free discussion over desert in a small group after the video. The atmosphere is meant to be relaxed, informal, and different opinions are welcomed as we try to learn from each other.
Each evening addresses a different main question like “Who is Jesus?”; “Why did Jesus die?”; “Why and how should I read the Bible?”; “How does God guide us?”; and others. The weekend retreat is planned around questions about the Holy Spirit. As the weeks go along, you get to know the people in the group as you eat, talk and laugh together. All the while, you’re growing in your understanding of Christian faith. It’s a great opportunity for newer Christians to learn, and especially for our friends who might be interested in learning more about God and faith.
What has changed?
The basics of Alpha are the same, but some things have changed. The talks have been updated and the format has changed. If you were familiar with Alpha from years ago, you’ll be interested to know that Nicky Gumbel is still involved in the talks, but his teaching is filmed in a variety of contexts. The videos also intersperse more “on the street” responses as well as input from hosts who are filmed in different settings and others who have experience and insight on different topics. The videos are faster paced, and have been shortened (they’re all less than 30 minutes). The evening is designed to be a bit shorter as well: 2 – 2 ½ hours.
What’s the plan?
The plan is that we are joining a city-wide campaign with other churches in the area who will all be running the Alpha Course simultaneously beginning in January. The goal is to have an Alpha Course available each day of the week somewhere in the city. For our church, we will offer the Alpha Course, in part, to follow-up after our Advent/Christmas season which kicks off with the comedy night on Monday, November 28 with Phil Callaway.
We are inviting you to pray about people in your life with whom you might come to church and, perhaps, attend an Alpha Course in the New Year. Wouldn’t it be great to start off 2017 joining people we care about on their journey toward faith in Christ? If you’re interested in being involved, please contact the church, or you can message me personally. May God move in and through us to draw the people of this city to himself next year.