Lockdowns lead to surge in online search for Jesus

Something good comes out of COVID

2020 was Alpha Australia’s biggest year, with more than 40,000 participants tuning in from their homes and phones.

According to ‘Alpha Australia’s 2020/21 Impact Report’, about two thirds of last year’s participants joined the evangelistic course online.

“Our digital impact and influence has exceeded our hopes and expectations,” said Alpha Australia Director Melinda Dwight.

“The introduction of Alpha Online has led to the inclusion of people previously unable or unwilling to physically go to a church. In this way, Alpha continues to overcome barriers to faith.”

An interactive series of studies and group discussions, Alpha has been run by churches and organisations across the world since 1994.

In response to restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic last year, Alpha Online was launched. In Australia, of the 62,000 participants in 2020, more than 40,000 took part online

“I’m so pleased to share over the past 12 months we have seen incredible growth in the use of Alpha as a tool for evangelism across all major denominations and regions of Australia and across a diversity of settings,” said Dwight.

“COVID has shaken people’s perception that they are in control of their lives. More people than ever are searching for answers to life, faith and meaning.”

The report also revealed 1,530 churches and organisations hosted Alpha in 2020 which was 18 per cent more than 2019. This included 377 Alphas run in a Catholic context, for more than 8,000 participants (30 per cent growth).

Alpha also grew among young people with 26,853 participants across 1,024 Youth Alphas run online and in-person last year.

“I didn’t think Alpha would work very well online … I have been proved wrong.” – Nicky Gumbel

These trends within Australia reflect what was identified in Alpha’s global review; people have been more relaxed and more open online about Christianity.

“For many, the familiar environment of being at home meant they let their guard down and were more open to new experiences,” the report said.

These positive responses and trends suggest this online format for evangelism will stay. Even as restrictions ease at different rates around the world, many churches have continued to run Alpha Online alongside in-person Alpha.

“I didn’t think Alpha would work very well online,” says Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel. “But I have been proved wrong. Alpha works far better online than we ever believed possible, not least because of the simple convenience of engaging from home.”

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