Frequently Asked Questions
"What Alpha offers, and what is attracting thousands of people, is permission, rare in secular culture, to discuss the big questions – life and death and their meaning."
The Guardian, London
Who is the Alpha course for?
The Alpha course is designed primarily for people who aren't churchgoers.
It attracts a diverse range of guests, including people of different ages and backgrounds, all with differing viewpoints.
How do I run a course?
Do I need to be a Christian to do the course?
No, you don't need to be a Christian. The course is designed for anyone who is interested in asking questions or learning more about the Christian faith. Many guests have never been to church before.
How much does it cost?
There is no charge for attending the Alpha course, although courses may ask for a contribution towards the food and / or refreshments.
Are my questions too controversial for church?
All questions are welcome on the Alpha course. The course is designed for people to freely ask the tough questions about life and the Christian faith.
Does the course explore other religions?
The Alpha course is an exploration of the Christian faith only.
What if I try it and don’t want to come back?
The Alpha course aims to be a low-pressure and non-threatening experience. If you don’t feel that the course is for you, you are under no obligation to return.
Why do people go on the Alpha course?
Guests do Alpha for a variety of reasons; some want to investigate whether God exists or question what happens after death, whereas others come to discuss particular questions, understand other peoples' beliefs or explore the meaning of life.
Are there specialised Alpha courses?
Yes, there are courses tailored to particular groups or settings, including:
Alpha for ESOL is a course run specifically for those who don't have a strong command of the English language.
There are also Alpha courses running in the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
How long does the course last?
The Alpha course usually takes place over 10 weeks, with a day or weekend away in the middle.
What is the format of the course?
Each session begins with a meal or refreshments, and a chance to get to know others in the small group. This is followed by a short talk and a time of discussion, when everyone is welcome to ask questions and share their opinion with the rest of their small group.
What are the talks about?
Each session covers a different topic, which people are then free to discuss in the small groups afterwards.
- Session 1: Who is Jesus?
- Session 2: Why Did Jesus Die?
- Session 3: How Can We Have Faith?
- Session 4: Why and How Do I Pray?
- Session 5: Why and How Should I Read the Bible?
- Session 6: How Does God Guide Us?
- Session 7: How Can I Resist Evil?
- Session 8: Why and How Should I Tell Others?
- Session 9: Does God Heal Today?
- Session 10: What about the Church?
Day or weekend away sessions:
- 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?
What size is the course?
Alpha courses are usually based around small groups of about 12 people, which are led by one or two hosts. The role of the host is to facilitate and encourage discussion.
Courses vary in size, from one small group meeting in a home to hundreds of people in a larger venue.
Whatever the course size, people tend to remain in the same small groups for the duration of the course. That way they can get to know each other, continue discussions and develop friendships.
When does a course take place?
Some Alpha courses are held over morning coffee or during a lunch hour, but most are evening courses, typically lasting two hours.
What happens if I miss a session?
If you’ve missed a session you can visit the course catch-up page.
How might I recommend Alpha to a friend?
Find out how you can recommend the Alpha course to a friend.