Millions of lives have been changed when they have participated in courses like Alpha that enable people to explore the Christian faith. Will your church run one of these courses this year and create confidence in evangelism?
The Archbishop of Canterbury's visit in September provides a great platform to invite a friend, colleague or family member on a faith exploration course.
Churches across the Diocese are being challenged to run a course like Pilgrim, Emmaus, Table Talk, Alpha or Christianity Explored so that people who come to one of the events during the visit might have the opportunity to follow up their questions in the context of a local church.
"In the last 20 years, Alpha has been a wonderful tool for churches across a variety of traditions to help people grapple with what life is really about and, in their questioning, encounter Christ and His Good News," says Bishop Mike.
"But Alpha is not the only course that enables this. What we want to encourage in this year is churches to consider what is appropriate for them and take the step and put something on this autumn."
A training day on 5 April at the Old School Rooms, Stoke Gifford, will train churches in running Alpha and other courses. Churches that have not run a course before are encouraged to put one on in May which will build the confidence of church members who take part to then invite other friends in the autumn. It will also help them run a more effective course in the autumn.
Hear from people whose lives have been changed
Looking to run a course? Here's some advice:
More about the range of courses
Alpha is a series of interactive sessions aiming to explore the Christian faith. There are DVD and other resources available to churches and individuals. The sessions normally involve a fellowship meal.
Register to run your own Alpha course
The Christianity Explored course aims to give people time and space to think through who Jesus is and why it matters. It uses Marks Gospel as its foundation, and encourages discussion around "tough questions".
Simply Christianity is based Luke's Gospel and is designed to introduce interested non-Christians to the basic message of Christianity. It is a five-week course, in which the leader presents basic material, followed by time for questions, reactions and discussion. It offers an opportunity for a home group to run an evangelistic event over dinner or in a living room.
Emmaus: The Way of Faith is an evangelism and discipleship course designed to welcome people into the Christian faith and the life of the church. It aims to involve the whole church in evangelism, the nurture of new believers and ongoing Christian discipleship.
Pilgrim is a teaching and discipleship resource from the Church of England. It aims to people explore the Christian faith in a group setting through participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion. Pilgrim has two stages for those very new to faith and for those further along their journey. Each stage contains four short courses, each one focused on a major theme of Christian life.