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Video Series: Alpha Youth – Invite your youth group, school friends, and kids next door, to join hosts Ben and Jason as they travel the world, unpacking the basics of the Christian faith. Alpha has already reached 27 million people let’s invite a new generation! Everything is free to download online.
Leaders’ Guide: Alpha in a youth context is a series of interactive sessions to discuss the Christian faith in a fun, relaxed and non-threatening environment. It is being run around the world.
Alpha runs over 8-10 sessions, with the option of a day or weekend away.
Topics covered include: Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? Why and how should I read the Bible? How does God guide us?
This Leaders’ Guide contains everything you need to run Alpha.
You need to register to run a Youth Alpha course before you can see the materials. Registration is free and gives you access to materials for 10 sessions plus two weekend sessions. At the time of review, the website links were not totally accurate and I had to contact Alpha direct for some of the materials. In total there should be 5 PDF documents, explaining what Alpha is, a ‘Getting Started’ sheet giving 5 simple points to set up a course, a Frequently Asked Questions document, Small group discussion questions for each of the sessions plus a document on team roles required to run Youth Alpha. There are 3 training videos: how to run a great alpha, how to lead small groups on alpha and prayer ministry on alpha. The last of these is particularly good. These videos are approximately 20 minutes long and contain 3 breaks, to pause the playback and discuss in groups.
There are 12 session videos, each lasting between 20-25 minutes.
Although Alpha argue that you don’t need to purchase a leaders’ guide, as all you need is online, there are benefits from using the guide. If you want to deliver the talks yourself, you will definitely need the guide.
The guide is a 408 manual, containing plenty of advice on how to run a great course, train your teams and publicise well. The big advantage of the manual over the online course, is that they include a variety of activities and games to use each session to help communicate the message each week, rather than simply being video and discussion, of the online course.
The online video series is aimed at young people aged 13-18 of no church background. It can also be used with young Christians who want to explore the foundations of their faith. The leader’s guide can be used with younger people, 11+.
Youth Alpha can be downloaded from the alpha.org website for free. There is a published leaders’ Guide available for £20 from alpha.org.
There are also participants’ guides although I understand these are being phased out – Younger Youth Guide (£2), Older youth Guider (£2).
The videos are made to a high, professional standard and are engaging. They are presented by two Canadian youth workers, Jason Ballard and Dan Woodman. Each video has three discussion breaks where a question is posed followed by some brief vox pops of people answering the question on the streets around the world. The leader should then pause the playback and allow the question to be discussed in small groups for a few minutes before continuing with the video. The maximum time the group will be watching any one part of the video is about 10 minutes.
The leaders' guide is very thorough and provides all you need to deliver an effective Youth Alpha course.
If you are not used to Alpha, it might be a bit confusing. In providing aims and understanding the website points you to the main alpha content for adults rather than being youth specific. This is a Christian basics course based around video talks. The leaders' guide, however, offers much more. Each session includes clear session aims and some notes on items the leader needs to be considering.
The online series has very limited leaders' materials, but the leaders' guide is excellent in explaining how to run each session (but being older than the online series, does not connect obviously with the new videos).
Anyone used to working with young people and are good at making people feel welcome and comfortable.
Alpha tell me that they are phasing these out. They are creatively designed and are age appropriate. They are not required for the course but are more a summary of the teaching of the course.
In many ways, Youth Alpha can feel like the poor relation of Alpha sometimes. The materials are excellent, if you can find them. The leaders' guide refers to a website that doesn't exist anymore for lots of downloads. Contacting Alpha, I discover the website has moved to: www.alpha.org/lgmedia. Worth knowing about and perhaps they should include this update when they send out the leaders' guides.
The online course has some incorrect links to leaders' downloads, so I needed to contact Alpha again to download the correct items. The support team are great and fast and did send me the different documents, but they should be easily accessed on the website.
This depends on how you intend to use the material. If you are going to use the online course, you need to consider the whole session – how you will welcome people, will you have a meal first, making the space easy to watch the videos and how the discussion groups will work.
If you intend to use the leaders' guide, you will need to select the different activities and games to use, as well as downloading possible vox pops clips and animations.
Anyone used to preparing youth group sessions, should not find this an issue.
The online course is at www.alpha.org and you must register a course to access it. This is probably so that Alpha can keep a count of how many courses are running, but it probably means that a lot of faux courses are created so that you can assess whether the material is appropriate to use or not.
Both versions of the course encourage group discussion and interaction, providing plenty of discussion questions.
The online course is a film lasting about 20 minutes, and includes three occasions to press pause and discuss, so the group won't be watching for more than 10 minutes at a time. It is based simply on listen and then discuss. If you use the leaders' guide, there is more opportunity to use different learning styles and to make each session a bit different to the others.
The course expects the leaders to design the overall sessions around their situation, probably the reason why the online course offers no suggestions to activities and games. The leaders' guide helps by offering choices to make applying to your situation easier.
The whole course is built around discussion groups and listening to each other for their opinions.
This is a Christian basics course looking at why Jesus died, who he is, how we can have faith, prayer, Bible reading, guidance, the Holy Spirit, evil, evangelism, the church and healing.
It is presented in a very clear manner and is easy to access. The videos are superbly created and the presenters are very likeable.
The whole point of Alpha is to communicate that God is relevant to today's young people and so all the content is designed to help people see what impact God has on daily life.
Alpha is produced from Holy Trinity, Brompton, a large Anglican church in central London.
Whilst being an evangelistic course, the later sessions do help participants to consider how to live for Jesus in their daily lives.
This is the whole purpose of the course and it encourages growth well.
The course helps explain the basics of Christianity and helps those with little or no knowledge start on this journey.
The course is rooted in everyday life and helps participants to see that the God is involved in all areas of life.
There is a specific session on how to share your faith with those around you and encourages people, once they have made a commitment to follow Jesus, to start telling those closest to them.
This is not a part of the course.