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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 hear from others and contribute your own perspective in an honest, friendly and open environment.
What is the Role of the Parish?
Alpha is efficient because it does not create demand on our over-extended and taxed clergy. Alpha is a parish based course that is lay led and training is provide.
Leadership & Team Training
Choosing the right team members is a key step. Look for people who are people-oriented and mature, trusted Catholics. Because the materials are so easy to use, however, you do not need to recruit based on expertise in spiritual subjects.
Training opportunities for your leadership team are available several times a year at national and regional events. Resource materials are available to provide leaders with all the information, tips, timelines, agendas and guidance required to run an effective Alpha course. Comprehensive materials are available to conduct in house training for leaders and team members also.
Publicize the Course
There are many resources available to assist your publicity efforts. The course is designed primarily for people outside the Church, lapsed Catholics and those on the fringes of faith. The target Alpha audience is not attending Sunday Mass. Billboards, flyers, postcards and banners will help “Get the Word Out.”
Invite Guests to Attend
The target Alpha audience is not attending Sunday Mass. It is important to encourage your parishioners to invite their neighbors, friends, co-workers and family to just “come and see,” by attending the Introductory Night dinner. Over 90% of the guests that attend the Introductory Dinner come back the following week. Most effective evangelization is relational. After meeting Jesus, Andrew invited Peter, Phillip invited Nathanael, Matthew threw a party at his house and invited his friends to come and meet Jesus. The Samaritan woman at the well brought the whole town out to “see the man that told me everything about myself.” The role of the parish, the parishioners is to invite others to, “come and see.”
Not everyone is an evangelist, but ANYONE can invite a friend to dinner!