A few years ago I was involved with the Alpha course in my church. I think we must have run about three or four courses over a couple of years, with one 'course' continuing as a 'post-alpha' group. We met for another year or so, if my memory serves me correctly.
Last year in another church I participated in an alpha course, which went quite well, I think. At least most people turned up most evenings, which is always a good sign.
Alpha seemed to be a little narrow in its intention, so the ministry group thought to try Christianity Explained across a large number of small groups. The people in these groups tended to be long time church members, so a different group of participants from Alpha, and quite different atmosphere.
As part of this effort we had a 'day away', which we held at Epping Baptist Church. Alpha has a weekend away and while my experience of these has been good, they can be a little intense and pressured. A single day is much better I think.
The 'day away' was enjoyable with just enough intensity to give it thematic strength, but not so much as to be overwhelming. The opportunity to eat lunch together, chat and get to know each other a little more was a blessing. Or maybe its just me; I like a good conference!
I've suggested that we do similarly for the wider church community (and not just small group attendees) next year. Perhaps to explore particular relevant topics (I mean relevant theologically or ecclesiastically, not necessarily 'current affairs' because life is grander than its digestion by the media). Maybe we could go on an excursion to Epping again.