“Prior to Alpha, nobody knew who I was. Now it’s nice to see all of my friends on Sundays.” Sarah* shared those words following the Fall 2018 Alpha class. Arthur had a similar reaction: “Feeling connected to FCC was a benefit I wasn’t expecting. I feel like I belong to this community more now that I took this course.” These kinds of responses are typical from Alpha guests.  Many people begin the Alpha course feeling disconnected from God and unsure about church. Ten weeks later they have more confidence in their faith and a deeper connection to the FCC church family. A guest from FCC Collingswood said, “Alpha helped me connect with both FCC campuses.”Alpha is a 10-week introduction to the Christian faith – over dinner, among friends, with open discussion – so that guests can feel confident in their faith and at home in the church. Alpha guests have permission to process their beliefs, express their doubts, and ask their questions.  Phil admitted, “Alpha answered my questions and created others, but it has helped me go deeper in my faith.” Craig acknowledged, “Alpha encouraged me to be closer to God and ask myself the difficult questions.” 

“Prior to Alpha, nobody knew who I was. Now it’s nice to see all of my friends on Sundays.” ​Sarah*

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“Feeling connected to FCC was a benefit I wasn’t expecting. I feel like I belong to this community more now that I took this course.”​*Arthur

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​A typical Alpha evening consists of 3 D’s: Dinner, DVD, and Discussion. Sharing a meal breaks down barriers, encourages friendship, and provides the convenience of not having to cook dinner at home that night. It establishes a relaxed atmosphere.  Next, a 20-minute teaching video addresses key questions, like “Who is Jesus?” “Why did Jesus die?” “How can I have faith?” and “How can I make the most of my life?” The balance of the evening is then spent in small groups, where attendees process what they’ve heard, discussing it in an open, non-judgmental environment.
​The small group is the heart and soul of Alpha. The other components of Alpha – like good meals and teaching videos – could be enjoyed alone in the privacy of your own home. You could order out for Chinese and pull up the videos on youtube. Sure, you could do that. But the Alpha small group is irreplaceable. The Alpha small group is what makes the whole experience especially meaningful.  Guests remain with the same small group throughout the ten weeks. It is the perfect environment to process one’s faith, deal with doubts, and figure out beliefs. As Carrie put it, “I found out that others had similar questions as my own.” And Nicky summed up her experience with these words: “I am happier and less doubtful about my relationship to God. My faith has grown significantly.”If you would like to learn more about Alpha, please come to an Alpha Informational Q&A Meeting, to be held at the FCC Mount Laurel Campus at 10:30AM on Sunday, January 13, 2019.  See also fellowshipsj.life/alpha. The Winter 2019 Alpha Course begins on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 6:30-8:30PM.
(*All quotes taken from actual course evaluations submitted by guests. Names changed in the interest of anonymity.)
by Don Loose