Alpha – A Great Small Group Program

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by Roy Snapp-Kolas and
Major Donna Ames –

Several corps in the Southern California Division have been experimenting with a new small group form of evangelism called the Alpha Course.

Alpha, originated in Great Britain, is an acronym for: Anyone interested in finding out more about the Christian faith; learning and laughter in a comfortable setting; pizza (a simple meal is part of the evening); helping one another sort through questions about the faith; ask anything, because no question is too unimportant for someone searching to find answers to the meaning for their life

Salvationists from five corps in Southern Cal attended Alpha training last year. Compton, Oxnard, Pasadena Tabernacle and Santa Barbara have been using the course to meet their particular local situations. Courses have been geared to specific group needs such as local leaders, corps members wanting to reach out to neighbors and friends, new corps attendees, social service clients and program residents. Many have been won to the Lord and linked to the corps. Pasadena Tabernacle Corps officer, Major Margaret Yuill says, “The Alpha course gives us an opportunity for new attendees to be involved in a weekly event to which they can instantly relate.”

The Oxnard Corps has offered the course to the homeless who come to the corps for the meal program and plans a new course with residents of their Sally’s Place transitional housing. Captain Norman Patton describes it as, “an excellent Bible study for the new and uneducated.” In Santa Barbara, the course has been used with corps leaders to review the basics of Christianity and build better relationships.

The Haven Outpost, in conjunction with the L. A. Haven Program for veterans, is a different environment from the usual Alpha course context. The Haven has a substance abuse treatment component with 60 residential beds. Alpha is a voluntary group; no one is required to attend as a condition of their Haven stay. The material has been adapted to show that the addicts’ need for a higher power to defeat the power of addiction can best be understood if the God of their understanding is God as trinity. The doctrine of the trinity is connected to everyday life in the Alpha course. An average of 40 have attended each week during the last year. As a result, many participants have been integrated into other outpost activities such as worship, prayer meetings and Christian recovery groups.

If you are interested in more information about Alpha you can contact them at 1-888-WHY-ALPHA (949-2574) or contact Roy Snapp-Kolas at the Haven Outpost.

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