You may have heard of Alpha Course before, but do you really know what it’s about?
We sat down with Pastor Ken and Pastor Ben to find out more about Village Alpha and learn about a few of the recent changes to the course and how Alpha Course will play out at Village Church.
Village Church: Why do we, as a church, think the Village Alpha Course is so important to our mission?
Ken: One of the challenges we can have as Christians is we can feel like we’re reaching people just because we’re part of a church and miss the fact that the great commission is also a personal call. Not all of our non-Christian friends are going to enjoy coming to church the first time. So, one of the reasons we’re introducing Alpha Course is because we want everyone who attends Village Church to have a way to introduce their non-Christian friends to Christianity in a way that’s not weird to them.
Ben: Yeah. A lot of young adults I know that are Christians know that the right thing to do is to share their faith and Alpha just allows them, or teaches them, a way to do that. It’s relational, and I think that sits well with young adults. In general, I think many millennials are wary of, or skeptical of, the institution of the church. So this takes away that obstacle because it’s like, “hey, come for dinner and discussion.” It’s not, “come to church.” Right away, it allows them to engage the conversation.
VC: So, what is the course like?
Ben: Every Alpha night starts with a meal. Everyone eats a meal with their group, and then we watch a video. The video looks at a few different angles around one big question about faith, life, meaning or God. Then groups discuss together, led by their table host, and they talk about their beliefs and ideas around the question. There’s no pressure to say anything, but it’s a great way to hear from other people and contribute your views in an open and honest environment.
VC: How is the Village Alpha Course going to become a part of each of our sites?
Ken: Alpha is one of our key ministries that every site is going to have an expression of. So each Village Church location is going to offer Alpha once or twice a year. We want to make it normative, just like we do community groups or Freedom Session. Alpha is one of the things we do, part of our DNA as a church.
VC: Both of you guys recently went to London, where Alpha was first started. So what did you guys learn there?
Ken: What I appreciated about London is that it has a post-Christian culture, like Canada. And when I went, I wasn’t thinking that we would be implementing Alpha as a front door to Christianity for our non-Christian friends. I was still thinking, invite them to church, then we would use Alpha as a discipleship tool for people who are interested in faith.
Ben: We saw prayer as a pillar of the Alpha Course, which was really inspiring for me…to see the way that these people prayed for their friends and people in their congregation to invite their friends, and how important prayer is to anything we do in the church, ‘cause God brings the growth.
VC: We heard that they’ve revamped the Alpha Course curriculum recently, and updated it. So, what does that look like?
Ken: A lot of people have had an experience with Alpha. Alpha has been around for a number of years, and you might be used to the “talking head” presentations, where someone gets up and speaks for 20-30 minutes. And those were good, but they’ve redone Alpha. They’ve created the curriculum around dynamic videos that center around one big question about faith or Christianity or meaning. The videos were actually shot around the world, with lots of interviews with different people. It’s a new approach. It’s much more of a discussion.
Ben: Seeing them do it at the church in London was awesome. They’ve done 85 or 90 rounds of Alpha Course at their church, and seeing how much it was a part of their culture — this hospitable culture — was really cool to see. It changes the dynamic of the community itself, too. We’ve got a vision for how this can be a church planting tool, that leads not to transitional growth but to the growth of people who have never set foot in a church before.
VC: If I have a friend who I want to invite to Village Alpha, how would you suggest doing that? How do you start that conversation?
Ben: The first session in the Village Alpha Course is “Is there more to Life?”, and I think that’s something, as far as young adults are concerned, like after they’ve experienced all the things in early adulthood, lots of them are asking those questions. I know I was in my early twenties. I didn’t come to really take my faith seriously until I was twenty-two. At that point, every time I went out and partied, or did the weekend thing that everybody does, at the end of it I’d just think, there has to be something more than this.
So I think it’s a question that a lot of people are asking. I think if it’s something that you bring up in a conversation with a friend, I think it wouldn’t be weird. And invite them to a dinner to converse around that subject.
Ken: Just invite them to one night. Invite them to the first week — “Is there more to life?” If they like it, great! They can come back the next week. If they don’t like it, that’s fine.
And then pray. Pray for them. Pray that they come. Register them and yourself, and then come with them.
If you’re interested in the Village Alpha Course, click here to learn more.
We have a course for our Surrey and Langley locations starting Tuesday, April 3, and another course for our Calgary location starting Tuesday, April 10.