What has Alpha ever done for us?

Author: Mike Roche

Picture: Blue Diamond Gallery

What has Alpha ever done for us?

In recent years, faith has flowered for many after attending the Alpha course. Mike Roche explores the reasons behind its success.

We have been seeing a steady growth in the use of Alpha as a tool for evangelisation in parishes around the UK over the past 6 years. After many years of minimal Alpha activity, suddenly there has been a new opening to Alpha and all it offers.

Many people in Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) will be familiar with Alpha. Many from CCR have been Alpha pioneers in their Catholic parishes. However, it has never quite penetrated the parish system and culture-until now.

Why have we been seeing this renewed flowering of Alpha in Catholic parishes in recent years? Whilst I would like to say that it’s all down to me being exceptionally good at my job, I can’t quite say that. It is partially true, but it’s not the whole picture.

A Whole Host of Factors 

In my opinion, there are a whole host of factors involved in this renewed populairty of Alpha:

·         The steady drip of Church teaching on evangelisation finally beginning to penetrate the dioceses and parishes.

·         The ‘Pope Francis Factor’ shaking us up to try new things.

·         The realisation, and honest admission, that what we have- and have not  -been doing at parish level was simply not bearing fruit.

·         The emerging impact of people from the ecclesial movements becoming visible. Many priests, religious and lay leaders who have been formed in the movements are now taking up posts in dioceses and parishes. They are willing to use Alpha because they are driven by a missionary impulse.

Here is a video about Alpha in a Catholic context:


From Maintenance To Mission

The growing impact of Fr James Mallon's book, Divine Renovation, is another key factor.

Divine Renovation has analysed and articulated our struggles as a Church, particularly in parishes, and has offered a proposal for change from maintenance to mission based on Fr James’ own experience from his parish in Canada. 

Alpha has played a huge part in Fr James’ experience of developing a missionary model fit for the 21st Century parish, and his unpacking of what Alpha offers to a Catholic parish has been compelling. As a result, more and more priests have been willing to give it a go.

Alpha and "missionary disciples"

Why does Alpha seem to be so attractive and effective at bringing people to Jesus and releasing them as missionary disciples? The effectiveness and attractiveness of Alpha is not confined to bringing people to Jesus; it also embodies at least 6 cultures-listed below- which can be embedded in the life of a parish to help shift the culture from maintenance to mission:

1.       Encounter – Clear proclamation of the good news of Jesus, leading to personal encounter with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2.       Hospitality – Each session starts with some food to help break down barriers and enable people to relax. It affirms their dignity and is an expression of the heart of God.

3.       Invitation –We recommend that Alpha is run 2-3 times a year in a parish. In this way, an invitational momentum can build up and it is possible to constantly be reaching new people, especially those who do not go to church at all.

4.       Mission – The invitational culture helps a parish to intentionally establish a process of forming missionary disciples. Guests on Alpha begin to share their experience naturally with others.

5.       Pipeline – Alpha can help a parish to put in place a process of developing leadership. Former guests are invited to come back on future Alpha courses as team members, and eventually can be released into other ministry areas in the parish.

6.       Intercession – Alpha is designed to fail unless God shows up, so we want to take every opportunity to call on the Spirit to empower us for mission. By emphasising prayer for Alpha in this way, we can take that reliance into other areas of church life. 

  • If you want to find out more about Alpha, visit, or contact Mike Roche, UK representative for Alpha in a Catholic Context: 
  • For more information about Divine Renovation, visit:  

Share this


See all results for

You may also be interested in...

Emma Raducanu: What Price 21st Century Role Models?

Emma Raducanu: What Price 21st Century Role Models?

After Emma Raducanu's triumphant US Open victory, Alastair McIver considers the place of role models-and where we might find them.

Film Review:"RESPECT"

Film Review:"RESPECT"

Jennifer Hudson excels as "Queen of Soul" and gospel singer Aretha Franklin in the biopic "RESPECT", says Kristina Cooper.

Greater Love Has No Man: Benedict Cumberbatch's 'The Courier'

Greater Love Has No Man: Benedict Cumberbatch's 'The Courier'

"The Courier", starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is a fascinating tale, showing how individuals can change history, says Kristina Cooper.