For one week of the summer holidays, a group of young people met in Bishop’s Cleeve to talk about and explore Christianity at a Youth Alpha course.
Using the same structure and content as Alpha, but adapted for 13–18-year-olds, the course offers videos and discussion topics such as Who is Jesus?, How can I have faith? and Why and how do I read the Bible?
Sallie Mumford, Children and Families Minister at St Michael and All Angels, Bishop’s Cleeve, says, “We contacted families with children from our previous holiday club, who were now older, and invited them to try Youth Alpha. Most of those who came had previously attended our summer holiday club, or were from our church family, and so we have some relationships with them already. One came to the course from out of our benefice, looking to be baptised.”
To make the most of the summer holiday, the Youth Alpha course ran as a three-hour session every day for five days. The sessions included lots of breaks, fun activities and even a pop-up badminton net in the church. On one of the longer sessions, which explores who the Holy Spirit is, freshly made pizzas were delivered to the church for the group to share.
Of helping to organise the course, Sallie says: “We advertised the course on our Facebook group, on Alpha UK, and in church. We bought the materials and booked both the Methodist Church and St Michael’s (due to venue availability). As well as our main leaders team, we also had a small catering team to deliver daily refreshments, including homemade cakes. Crucially, our prayer team and church congregation prayed for us daily. I would not contemplate running an Alpha course without prayer.”
The team also set up WhatsApp groups for the parents and the group members, to keep in touch and share photos during the week.
Joe, 15, says of his experience: “I wasn’t sure what to expect but I enjoyed the course. It was relaxed and it was good to work with people a similar age to me. The course has definitely helped me understand Christianity more; I found the session on the Holy Spirit particularly helpful as I didn’t really know much about that before.”
Alpha aims to help people understand more about Christianity, with open conversations about life and faith, and provides a basis for further exploration.
Sallie says, “The contributions and insights from the group were really interesting. We have also offered a regular evening meeting for this group to carry on the conversation if they wanted to, but have left it very much up to them.
“I’d like to make special thanks to Waitrose Cheltenham for their generous donation which helped us run this course. One of the staff’s children had come to our holiday club a few years ago and had put St Michael’s forward to receive their Community Matters fund of £1,000. This money covered the costs of our Youth Alpha course and also will go towards our weekly Toddler Group expenses.”
Have you attended an Alpha course in one of our churches? Do share your story with us.
To find out more about Alpha courses run locally check out A Church Near You or visit Try Alpha to find an Alpha course near you.