Thinking Out Loud

January 10, 2009

H2O: An Alternative to the Alpha Course for a New Generation

Filed under: bible, Christian, Christianity, Faith, Jesus, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:37 pm

This post was originally written in late February. This week, Thomas Nelson Publishing is re-launching the H20 course described here, for which it purchased the rights from Standard Publishing, so it seemed like a good time to compare the course with Alpha, a commodity with which most of you are familiar…

h2oAs a general rule, resources come and go, so we’re always looking for new things to recommend to people. A couple of years back we were sent a demo DVD in a plain cardboard package from Standard Publishing of Ohio, promoting a new evangelism course called H20. Right away I knew we were on to something good. The best way to define the program is to compare it another evangelism course, The Alpha Course with Nicky Gumbel.


* Both deal with the core doctrines of Christianity
* Both use a 20-30 minute DVD clip as the centerpiece
* Both are designed to be best presented around the fellowship of a meal over a ten week (H2O) or twelve week (Alpha) period
* Both recommended a couple of episodes towards the end be presented around a retreat weekend


* While Alpha features Nicky Gumbel in a kind of “talking head” lecture format, H20 scripts are presented against the background of dramatic, feature film quality narratives
* H20 host Kyle Idleman, teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY definitely skews to a younger audience

* A supplemental video series called Storm is available for loan out for people who want more depth and is presented in a form more similar to Alpha, but isn’t part of the H20 weekly presentations
* While they are available, H20 doesn’t lend it self as strongly towards the use of study workbooks; in fact it might appeal best to a generation that would be turned off by that approach.

The person who gave me the original demo disc suggested that H20 could best be described as “Alpha meets Nooma” referring to the series of 18 or so teaching clips featuring Rob Bell. The comparison is certainly valid.

In the two years since however, we’ve only recently been able to get a church in our local area to sponsor a showing of H20. It’s a shame that such a quality resource — each episode would have cost ten to twenty times the cost of an Alpha episode — continues to be relatively unknown in the Christian community. No wonder they say that a high percentage of the cost of books and CDs is marketing. (And no wonder that so many authors eventually gravitate to companies like Thomas Nelson, who can force product sales through the pipeline.)

We hosted a media day for pastors and leaders in January of 2007. Many of the people came from greater distances (one of whom bought the course) but few people from our own county showed up. Then this fall, we did a leadership track presentation, showing 2-3 episodes per night over four Mondays. There was a great response among those present, but we’ve resigned ourselves to the idea that when it comes to new innovations, our influence is extremely limited. Just as parishioners won’t read anything their pastor (or Benny Hinn or James Robison) doesn’t tell them to; so also are pastors and leaders reluctant to try anything that doesn’t have momentum or isn’t sanctioned by their denominational headquarters. Sigh!

This is a quality resource that a forward-thinking church simply can’t afford not to look at. It holds the highest likelihood for connecting with a seeking person in their 30s, 20s or even teens.


UPDATE:  Thanks to Tim for giving us this YouTube link in the comments section.


  1. This is not a preview site, but in lieu of that here is a recent you-tube clip: that is a TNI review of the Standard edition

    Comment by Tim — January 10, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  2. […] The Y Course: For Those Not Ready for Alpha By paulthinkingoutloud Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Alpha Course, discipleship, evangelism, Y Course Some of you who know me, know I’m a big supporter of the H20 course, an alternative to Alpha that was launched several years ago by Standard Publishing, and picked up by Thomas Nelson in January.    It is strongly geared to a younger generation who might find the “talking heads” format of Alpha a bit too much like church.  (More on my personal blog, here.) […]

    Pingback by The Y Course: For Those Not Ready for Alpha « Christian Book Shop Talk — August 10, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  3. […] in film production, City on a Hill, the people who brought you the Alpha-Course-alternative known as H20 have brought Kyle Idleman back to host  a new series titled Not a […]

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  4. […] H20 — which I always refer to as “the Alpha Course meets NOOMA” — you can click here for my review, and we’ll wait for you to get […]

    Pingback by Not a Fan: The Fall Kickoff Study DVD You’re Looking For « Thinking Out Loud — June 13, 2011 @ 5:56 am

  5. […] that the best way to communicate with postmoderns? I’ve already expressed in this blog a bias toward an alternative, the mini-movie format H20 course, referring to it as […]

    Pingback by Campus Alpha Now in 7-Week Format « Thinking Out Loud — March 19, 2012 @ 6:51 am

  6. […] pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky; however unlike the Not a Fan and H20 group studies. This one is different in that it abandons the cinematic style that had him teaching […]

    Pingback by Review of Gods at War Video Curriculum | Christian Book Shop Talk — June 3, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

  7. […] pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky; however unlike the Not a Fan and H20 group studies This one abandons the cinematic style that had him teaching on location and […]

    Pingback by Kyle Idleman – Gods at War: The Video | Thinking Out Loud — June 6, 2013 @ 6:51 am

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