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By Mike Toth

The “new” Alpha Program will be everywhere in London in the fall

Acts 2:46+47: 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles chronicles the lives of the early believers as they lived in unity, community, and hunger for God. While such a scene is difficult to recreate in today’s society with families being so scattered and transient and with church attendance being so fluid, the Alpha Program recreates it in microcosm.

Nicky Gumbel
For 20 plus years the Alpha Program, written by pastor Nicky Gumbel from Holy Trinity Brompton Church in England, has been one of the best tools that Christians have available to them to bring family members, friends, and acquaintances to faith in Christ. Alpha features 8-12 meetings allowing people of diverse backgrounds to explore the basics of the Christian faith in a friendly and informal setting. While the program is obviously evangelistic with the ultimate goal being to lead people to Christ, one of the keys to the success of the program is the low-key relational approach over the length of the course, allowing people to work out their views of Jesus and the faith over time.

So far, 29 million people in 169 countries in 100 different languages have attended an Alpha program. A Teen Alpha program started in 2011 has seen over 400,000 participants since inception. While Alpha is just one of many good Christian evangelism programs out there the Holy Spirit has certainly blessed it.

The Alpha Program has received a reboot and update with the millennial generation in mind. While the classic, “legacy” Alpha is still vital and relevant with boomers and generation X-ers younger adults are much more responsive to a quicker paced presentation rather than a straight lecture.

Rob Hogendoorn, pastor of Forest City Community Church in South London, is helping to spearhead a major citywide initiative in the fall that will see the new Alpha program run simultaneously at multiple sites throughout the city. At the time of writing 37 sites including the whole spectrum of Christian churches and off church sites like UWO will be meeting weekly from October to December. The hope is that every night of the week will be covered and that 4-5 thousand Londoners will come to Christ, or at least be engaged with the Gospel through the initiative.

“This is not your grandma’s Alpha,” laughs Hogendoorn. “A lot of churches and people know of Alpha, but the 24-year-old unchurched individual is the goal. This is the best opportunity in a decade (in London) for people to meet Jesus. “

The campaign will kick off with a massive media presence in the summer, with billboards all over the city, a large social media push, and through involved churches and organizations. The face of television personality Bear Grylls, who is both a major sponsor of Alpha and a beneficiary of the program as well, will be seen everywhere.

“Every Christian has people in their life they wish could get to know Christ. It’s a struggle because it’s hard to broach the conversation, but this regional initiative is a way for Christians to do that,” says Hogendoorn.

While Hogendoorn’s enthusiasm for the initiative is infectious, it is also quite personal: “I have to help as many people as possible to meet Jesus.”

There will be a meeting on Wednesday May 17 at 7pm at Forest City Community Church that will tell more of this exciting endeavor and how individuals and churches can be involved. Interested churches can contact Nadia Zeversenuke at