The March-June 2010 issue of the UK edition of Alpha News, the thrice-yearly print newspaper of the Alpha course, reports some headline findings about public perceptions of Alpha from an Ipsos MORI poll conducted among a representative sample of 1,997 British adults between 9 and 15 October 2009.
Alpha was started by Charles Marnham at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), London in October 1977 but has really taken off since about 1992. The course is a 15-session practical introduction to the Christian faith designed primarily for non-churchgoers and new Christians. It is now run by churches of every major denomination in 163 countries, and from prisons, universities, workplaces and homes as well as in places of worship.
Alpha UK has been monitoring its impact in a series of Ipsos MORI polls since 1999 (although HTB’s reporting of them has been somewhat selective).
The latest survey is said to reveal that nearly four million Britons who have not done the Alpha course express some degree of interest in it. Awareness of Alpha among the public is claimed to be at a record high, with 24% able to identify it as a Christian course, compared with 9% a decade ago.
The poll also shows that last autumn’s annual UK advertising campaign for Alpha (featuring posters asking ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘Is this it?’) was the most successful yet, with 20% of adults saying that they had seen one of the posters, almost double the figure for October 2008.
For those wishing to study Alpha from an academic perspective, there are two important books by Stephen Hunt: Anyone for Alpha? Evangelism in a Post-Christian Society (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2001) and The Alpha Enterprise: Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004). Hunt has also written a number of articles about Alpha, which can be traced at:
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