Tonight my church starts an Alpha course and I will be going along as an helper/observer, even though I did not do Alpha myself. However as a theologian and practician I did engage with all the questions explored in the course. I remember that in the mid 1990s when Nicky Gumbel took over Alpha (I was at a Bible College at that time) I looked at the course with some sympathy but I also had some reservations, in particular about how it was ‘marketed’.
I have just finished Adam Rutherford’s last piece (11 posts in total) in the Guardian about his experience with Alfa course. Adam is a self declared atheist and I think he went along to Alpha with a specific agenda to discredit it, even though he does not seem to openly acknowledge this. Despite his disillusion with Alpha (and with Christianity) he seems to have taken one or two positive things from this course: it is more valuable to engage with and get to know people who hold different world-view than just opposing and shouting at them from an ivory tower.
Now it is my turn to assess Alpha in the flesh. One thing though I am sure about: I am not going to blog about it and about my experience. My personal opinion about Alpha: it might be a good way for some people to explore and even find their faith, and I would support the running of it, but I feel Alpha is just the beginning.
One of the commentators to Adam’s piece suggests an alternative course Living the Questions. I have come across some emails marketing this course, but I have not heard or seen any material (it appears to be a bit expensive to buy).