The Alpha Enterprise explores the development, growth and impact of the most widely used evangelising programme of recent decades. The Alpha course is run in over seven thousand churches in the UK and over five thousand in the USA. Across the world some four million people have graduated through the course in over 80 countries. Alpha is truly the fastest growing evangelising initiative, creating widespread support as well as stirring strong criticism. Stephen Hunt critically examines the content and working philosophy of the Alpha course through the experiences of the churches that have run it, as well as the individuals who have experienced it first hand. Hunt charts the history of the programme, its use of group dynamics and media, how it links with the charismatic movement, how it deals with issues such as homosexuality, how it is run not only in churches but in prisons and universities too, and concludes by measuring Alpha's impact and success. Engaging with debates regarding postmodernity, globalisation, McDonaldisation, consumerism, and secularisation, and based on real-life surveys, The Alpha Enterprise sheds new light not only on evangelism but on contemporary Christianity in general and how it engages with a post-Christian culture.
Table of Contents
Contents: Foreword, Martyn Percy; Introduction; Alpha: developments so far; Alpha: towards a sociological framework; The charismatic movement and its significance for Alpha; The Alpha programme; Critical views of Alpha; The survey in the churches; the group dynamics of Alpha; Searching issues; The supply-side of Alpha; Who joins Alpha?; Is Alpha working?; Alpha in the 'hard places'; Is Alpha homophobic?; Holy spirit weekend; Conclusion; Appendix; Index.
Stephen Hunt is a Reader in Sociology at the University of West of England, Bristol, UK.
'The key phenomenon in the background to the Alpha courses is the decline in conventional religious behaviour and this is at the centre of contemporary religious studies and sociology of religion. For those who are more directly concerned about church decline the book also has a practical significance - do we have something here that works? Hunt tackles the difficult question of whether Alpha courses are working and under what circumstances. This is the only major empirical study I know of the Alpha course.' Professor Christie Davies, University of Reading, UK 'The Alpha Enterprise is a careful study of Alpha since its inception, and provides a wealth of empirical detail about the movement itself and the people that it attracts... Before anyone utters a further word for or against Alpha, they should read this book.' Church Times 'Hunt's analysis of Alpha's appeal [...] is penetrating.' TLS 'Hunt has provided a full and rounded picture of Alpha and this book [...] should be read by anyone running Alpha, considering it or commenting on it, for or against... I have no hesitation in recommending this book to all concerned with running and thinking about Alpha...' Borderlands 'The book is very readable and interesting [...] and a useful counter-balance to some of the hype surrounding Alpha.' The Tablet '... a thorough and critical sociological assessment of Alpha... a fascinating look below the surface of a phenomenon which Hunt fairly describes as having"impacted UK churches and thousands worldwide on an impressive scale". For those with responsibility for planning and implementing evangelistic strategy for local churches, The Alpha Enterprise will repay studious reflection leading to a fuller understanding of Alpha's limitations and to greater wisdom and dexterity in running Alpha on the ground.' www.christianbookshop.org 'It makes essential reading for those thinking seriously about mission in contemporary Britain.' Anvil