Archive: Alpha sweeping the globe

July/August 2002
Good News

More than 3.8 million people thought to have completed the Alpha course around the world in the last six years, according to a report released by a London-based British research organization, Christian Research.

The organization also found that 742,000 people have done the Alpha course in the United States-nearly half a million of them in the last two years.

The report emphasizes that the figures can only be described as “estimates” and concluded, “The total worldwide Alpha attendance to the end of 2001 is estimated at 3.8 million people, of whom just over a million attended in the single year 2001.”

The report singled out the growth in the United States for special mention, concluding, “The growth of Alpha in the United States is phenomenal” and that, “It is growing faster than in the UK.” It also concluded that churches running Alpha in the United States “are holding more courses per year as time has passed.”

There are now more than 4,225 churches registered as running Alpha in the United States compared with just 2,300 at the end of 2000. They are from a wide variety of denominations, including Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Baptist, United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Independent, Vineyard, Pentecostal, and many others.

The research also found that not only is Alpha spreading to more and more churches across the country, but that those churches which are already running the course are doing so more often. As well as running it three times a year, they are running courses for youth and students, as well as daytime courses.

The research estimated that 301,000 people have completed Alpha in Canada and 250,000 in South Africa.

Gen-Xers attracted to Alpha. Thousands of young people in their 20s and early 30s are attending Alpha courses all over the United Kingdom, the Christian Research survey revealed.

The survey shows that an estimated 22,000 people under the age of 35 attended Alpha courses in the UK in the fall of 2001. At the Alpha course at Holy Trinity Brompton, London, where the course began, around 2,000 people under the age of 35 – more than 75 percent of those taking part – have completed an Alpha course during the past year.

The results came at the same time as another survey revealed that the largest percentage of churchgoers in Britain are currently aged 65-74.

Commenting on the figures, Alpha speaker Nicky Gumbel said, “The church has often struggled to reach people in their 20s and 30s. Yet we have been astonished by the large numbers in those age groups that have been coming to Alpha.

“For the past four terms, we on our own course have done a graph of the age range and each term it has looked very much the same. What this shows is the potential that Alpha has to reach people in those age groups.

“We have learned a great deal over the last few years about how to reach those groups and one of our key aims now is to pass on that information at the Alpha conferences and training events which we are now organizing across the world.”

Thirty-four percent of the United Kingdom’s population is now aged from 15 to 34 and 20 percent from 25 to 34.

Christian Research surveyed 1,022 churches running Alpha courses and concluded that the average age of those attending Alpha is currently 41. Meanwhile, a survey of 100,000 churchgoers in England conducted by The Churches Information for Mission (CIM) on one particular Sunday – April 29, 2000 – showed that the 25-34 age group represented only eight percent of churchgoers that day. By far the largest percentage of churchgoers were aged between 55 and 74, with the most between 65 and 74.

Adapted from Alpha News. This news article appeared in the July/August 2002 issue of Good News.




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