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Alpha course

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The Alpha course is a course on the basics of the Christian faith. It was developed by the Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican church in London during the 1970s in 1990 Nicky Gumbel took on the running of the alpha course. Since that time Alpha has spread all over the world and is currently run in 143 countries by many different denominations.



The Alpha course is organized as a series of sessions over ten weeks, starting with some food, a talk (often a video of one by Nicky Gumbel), and discussion in small groups. The content frequently refers to C. S. Lewis, and John Stott. The course typically also includes a weekend away which includes sessions on person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Courses are offered free of charge. Alpha courses frequently use Contemporary Christian Music.


Alpha began at Holy Trinity Brompton , a Church of England church in London, England.

In 2004, over 25,000 courses are offered in more than 143 countries, and in many Christian denominations.

Alpha organizations hold national initiatives, often purchasing advertising in many media.


The Alpha course has attracted much praise as a technique for spreading the basics of the Christian faith. Although begun in the Anglican church, its subsequent use by a wide variety of denominations and groups indicate its success in capturing the essence of the faith. Its emphasis on unpressurised discussion makes for a non-threatening environment.

The alpha course has been endorsed by figures including the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as church leaders from all major denominations around the world.


The Alpha course has been criticised for a Charismatic emphasis. Some churches have chosen to teach a modified version which avoids the subject of the Holy Spirit.

Some churches have found that the expectations of Alpha graduates caused friction with more established members of the congregation.

More conservative critics (especially from a Reformed and Evangelical perspective) have complained that the course does not adequately define sin and therefore does not adequately explain the reason for Jesus' death and resurrection. The Christianity Explored course is an attempt to remedy this.

The standard Alpha course response to the controvery about homosexuality which is a particular source of dissension in the contemporary Anglican Communion is to reject homosexual practice as being contrary to biblical teaching. This creates suspicion of the Alpha course amongst the significant numbers who hold the contrary position within the Church of England and elsewhere.

Related courses

Special versions of the Alpha course tailored for specific demographics exist, including:

  • Alpha for Students
  • Alpha for Prisons
  • Youth Alpha
  • Alpha for Forces
  • Senior Alpha
  • Alpha in the Workplace

related courses developed at Holy Trinity Brompton include

  • Marriage Course
  • Marriage Preparation Course

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-06-2005 09:14:18
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13