"It started as a Canadian resource, and a dream to do something for Canada," says Jason Ballard, director of Youth Alpha. "The response has been overwhelming from every denomination. In Canada we expect at least 5,000 students to be part of the conversation this fall."
The Alpha program, first offered in Canada in 1995, has reached more than 530,000 Canadians. But Ballard says that success has not been mirrored by the previous Youth Alpha program.
The new Youth Film Series has a TV feel. Episodes are approximately 25 minutes long, with three breaks for group discussions. Ballard says they wanted to use a different model to help engage youth in conversations.
"We travelled to Israel, London, Paris, and all over British Columbia interviewing people on the street," he explains. "We wanted to keep it fast paced and energizing. Using imagery also allowed us to say more in less time."
Geoff Stewart, youth pastor at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, BC, says the series will help Christian youth understand and articulate their beliefs while cultivating an environment for non-Christians to learn about Jesus.
"I'm excited that young people across Canada will be talking about Jesus," says Stewart. "When I look at the resources available very few cover the core beliefs of Christianity, but Alpha's Youth Film Series can be shared across all denominations. I've never seen anything where people were so on-board, so quickly."
Ballard sees this as a strategic opportunity to build unity among Canadian churches.
"There is something about Alpha that allows an ecumenical movement. I am really excited about revitalizing the call to evangelism. We live in an exciting time where many high school students have never heard of Jesus before."
As of September first, the series is available online for free at www.alphacanada.org.