(This article may be used with permission and credit attributed to Gerard Long 20012 Alpha USA.)
the U.S., the Alpha course has already reached 3 million people in all
50 states and in every major denomination. On this extraordinary
adventure called Alpha, together with our leadership team, I’ve asked
God to provide clear vision in our strategic thinking and mission goals.
Prayerfully, we’re seeking “to transform our society—one life, one
church, and one community at a time.” Also, we’re enthusiastic about all
that God’s doing to make this happen! In Genesis, God asks us to “go
forth and multiply,” and in Matthew, He asks us to fulfill the Great
Commission: to “go and make disciples” of Jesus Christ. With these
instructions in mind, we’ve set strategic goals to greatly expand our
reach in the U.S. We’re seeking to multiply the number of churches that
run the Alpha course as well as the number of guests enrolled; to enrich
families and individuals through many of the marriage, parenting and
outreach materials we provide; and, most importantly, to see more and
more lives transformed for Christ. We’ve set a goal to reach 18 million
people with the Gospel via an Alpha course in the U.S. by 2020, which is
part of Alpha’s global vision to reach 100 million people with the
wonderful news of Christ by that same year. And, God willing, we’ll
continue with great passion on this exciting journey of changing lives
is everything, really; it’s at the core of everything we do, every
decision we make. Communicating with God, our gracious Heavenly Father
is such a privilege and a necessity at the same time. At the core of
Alpha are relationships, first with God and then with our guests. And
prayer is key to our relationship with God. Also, as James 5:16 says,
the earnest prayer of a believer—a person right with God—avails much.
And through His Holy Spirit, we receive the love, joy and peace—and all
the fruit—that only He provides. For each guest of the Alpha course,
each seeker, it’s the power of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit
that brings the conviction, revelation and transformation of the heart
that he or she so desperately needs.
the past two decades, the mission of Alpha—making disciples of Jesus
from all walks of life—has greatly impacted the world for Christ.
All the content of Alpha is based on the truth of God’s Word—on His
infallible Holy Scripture. So we know the content is trustworthy and
true, this Biblically-based content, is then systematically laid out to
unfold the basic teachings of the Christian faith. We have updated some
of the more practical aspects of the course several times to make it as
relevant as possible and to achieve maximum results. Very importantly,
we also ask that Alpha leaders teach the material as it is written, to
not change its key teachings. Our training materials reinforce this
point, and we entrust our leaders with this responsibility.
of the key ingredients to Alpha’s success has been in making its guests
feel relaxed, accepted and open to the Gospel message. We
want to treat others with humility and respect, to value each guest, to
show them a servant’s heart and to honor them with confidentiality. And,
of course, the atmosphere should be friendly, non-judgmental and
inviting—a fun place to be! One of the best ways we can show people we
love them is to listen carefully and respectfully to what they are
saying. The most successful groups tend to learn about Jesus and have
fun at the same time. That also brings up one of my favorite parts—the
Alpha jokes. Our leaders weave humorous stories into the opening and
teaching time, and during the discussions we encourage leaders to
interject humor when appropriate. Finally, testimonies throughout the
course by people who have “been there”—who can relate how God has opened
their hearts and transformed them from the inside out—provide a
The Alpha course offers guests a 10-week small group experience, plus a weekend or all-day getaway.
After talking with hundreds of people who have experienced the getaway,
I can say with confidence, “It’s a crucial component, so please don’t
omit it!” As you might guess, it not only helps everyone bond together
more closely, but it also gives the guests the space, time and
environment to thoroughly process all they’ve been learning, and it
gives the Holy Spirit opportunities to soften hearts in amazing ways.
Those who fill out evaluation forms often cite that “it’s the best part
of the course.” In particular, it provides an opportunity for balanced
teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit to empower Christ followers to
be His witnesses. It’s often a time when guests experience for the first
time that God really does love them. Their understanding of Christ and
His teaching spreads from their head to their heart.
The Alpha course has proven successful in leading participants to make a personal commitment to Christ. When
churches begin engaging the community through Alpha, they’re looking
outward, seeing the broken and hurting people who need answers to life’s
biggest questions. In reaching out to people from all
backgrounds—co-workers, neighbors, classmates, those embracing other
religions and world-views and even those in our prison systems—churches
are discovering new blessings and new passion in sharing God’s truth.
Churches that were perhaps declining find themselves growing. Often,
churches develop an entire evangelism strategy, a vibrant prayer
ministry and a new heart for those who need Christ’s redemption. I
encourage every church to “Go Forth”—to multiply the souls saved for
Christ and to fulfill His Great Commission. In summary, churches that
implement the Alpha DNA see growth in new disciples, in leaders, in
service and in financial giving.
The Alpha course offers a 10-week small group experience for those within and outside the church.
adventure doesn’t end after 10 weeks – it continues! Alpha offers a
line of discipleship studies that help guests keep seeking, exploring
and growing in faith. Many groups plan a follow-up reunion or party to
stay connected, begin going to church together, start a small-group
discipleship group, get baptized or serve together inside or outside the
church. Also, many will invite their friends and family on the next
Alpha course and will often be a helper and then a leader on the course.
God faithfully paves the way.
Long is the president of Alpha UA. Today in the U.S., three million
people in all 50 states and 127 denominations have already experienced
the Alpha course, with hundreds of thousands making a commitment or recommitment to Christ. (Globally, the Alpha course has reached 19 million people in 169 countries and 113 languages.)
Gerard’s first book, The Breakthrough was developed in cooperation with best-selling author Ken Blanchard, The Breakthrough uses a modern-day parable to communicate basic truths about God, suffering and the after-life. Gerard blogs regularly, www.gerardlong.com, where he writes on the topics of evangelism and church growth.