Churches in 500 cities will unite behind an annual national ad campaign this fall that aims to bring Americans back into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
In its fifth year, “The Alpha Invitation” campaign brings churches across denominational lines to invite people to a dinner where they will be introduced to the Alpha course, a 10-week practical introduction to the Christian faith that answers questions about God’s existence, people’s purpose in life, and who Jesus is. The ad campaign will begin in mid-August and the dinner event will take place in mid-September.
“The main purpose of the Alpha Invitation is to make more disciples of Jesus Christ but it is also leading to greater church unity in hundreds of cities and communities across America,” said Gerard Long, executive director of Alpha USA, in an e-mail to The Christian Post.
“Denominational barriers are coming down as Christians work together in their communities in prayer, planning and promotion with the goal to invite as many people as possible from outside the Church to hear the wonderful news of Jesus Christ on a local Alpha course.”
Founded in 1997, Alpha USA helps churches create a welcoming environment where people are free to make up their own minds about the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the beginning, Alpha saw a surge in interest, but the church didn’t quite understand what the program was about. Many thought it was a 101 discipleship class when Alpha was really aimed at those outside the church. Because of this misunderstanding, interest in Alpha dropped. But in the last two years there has been another surged in interest – the number of churches that use the program doubled over that period. There are more currently than 4,300 churches representing 127 denominations running the Alpha course in the United States.
Taking the form of billboards, bumper stickers, and yard signs, the Alpha Invitation ads will ask viewers, “If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?”
Each year, thousands of people respond to the ads, including atheists and people of other faiths, through which they are connected or re-connected to the Word of God. This year, Alpha USA expects over 30,000 people to respond to the invitations in the some 500 cities where the ads will go up.
Yesenia Anderson of Manhattan, Kan., saw the ads all over town last year. She shared that she had hit “rock bottom” when she saw the ads, and decided to visit the Alpha website to find a church nearby that offered the dinner and introduction to the Alpha course.
After taking the course she said, “I feel alive! I am loved and happier than ever.”
Last year, around 15,000 people made their first or recommitments to Jesus Christ as a result of the campaign, Long estimates.
“Alpha is a way for churches to get back to the work of evangelism and outreach that Jesus called us to, and to get people thinking without making them feel judged,” said Long.