The dream question

I was standing in front of about 25 students at Surrey University, when one lad raised a cautious hand…

I’d just finished a talk on how the church and the faith of Christianity figures with all the suffering in the world. I threw it open to the tables of students munching sandwiches during this lunchtime session, asking if there were any questions people had that we could discuss further. It was at this moment that a guy right at the front of the room asked the question that every evangelist can’t help but smile at…

“What’s an alpha course?”

And that my friends, is the dream question. Green light: Go.

An Alpha Course is a brilliant way to explore the meaning of life and wrestle with questions we have about God, through the lens of the Christian faith. At Student Alpha (yup, you’ve guessed it, the student-specific version of the course) you get eight weeks of eating together, hearing a short talk that throws out an idea/ belief found in Christianity, and then away you go on your tables, chewing over your reaction to what you’ve heard and listening to what other people think too. No matter what you believe, whether you have a faith or religion of some sort, or none at all, the beauty of Student Alpha is that everyone is welcome, everyone has a say, no one is told what to believe and you end up being far more opened minded as you explore stuff together.

This term my local church G2 in York is running our third Student Alpha course and we can’t wait. We have found the uptake for the course has been so popular that the bigger church which mine is part of, St.Michael Le Belfrey, is also running another Student Alpha course, same time, on a different night. I am confident both courses will be packed out with students who are interested, students who just want to do something different, students who were invited by mates, and those who wondered in after spotting it on Facebook. I’ve never had a predictable Alpha experience, but I’ve also always had a brilliant time doing it.

If you are reading this and you have questions to ask about life, the universe, and everything, and how this “God” character fits into it all, can I recommend Student Alpha to you? And if you’re reading this wondering how to create a way for students to find out about Jesus, get planning your own course before the year is out. Visit our mates at and get connected, find a course near you, or become one.

I guess the reason why I loved being asked “what is an alpha course?” was because, having done a few, it’s like talking about something you love, like a life-long friend. It reminds me of the amazing conversations, life-shaping moments and lasting friendships I’ve gained through the Student Alpha tool. I hope you have such experiences too, so that when someone asks you ‘the dream question’, you also can’t help but smile.

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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