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Category: Small Group Curriculum (page 1 of 21)

Great New Study for Women: Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story

Had an opportunity to preview a new study from Angie Smith. Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story is a 7 session Bible study for women that “shows how the whole Bible–from Genesis through Revelation–connects as one beautiful seamless thread.” Angie Smith is the best-selling author of Mended, I Will Carry You and What Women Fear. Because of her background, she comes at the story of the Bible in a way that women who are new to Bible study will find very compelling.

DVD-driven, Seamless features the teaching of Angie Smith. The sessions are short, ranging from 11 to 16 minutes in length. Very conversational, her speaking style will grab your members’ attention from the opening moments.

The Bible Study book includes what you’d expect in a DVD-driven study. A section designed to help members review last week’s homework and questions that will help them talk about what they learned in the video. What may set this study apart is the care taken at setting up even the newest to the Bible members to gain a new understanding of the seamless story of the Bible. Each week has five days of homework and there’s enough there to take participants 30 to 60 minutes to complete. The writing is very engaging (sprinkled with trivia and fun facts) and will help along new members while keeping seasoned veterans engaged.

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly on the lookout for studies that will appeal to unconnected women who aren’t already part of a small group or Bible study. To qualify, the speaker on the video has to come across like someone a normal person can hang out with at a Starbucks. To qualify, the writing has to be understandable (without an interpreter) and engaging, pulling the member further into the content. Seamless qualifies. I loved it and I think your members will too.

Don’t Miss Pete Wilson’s New Study: “What Keeps You Up At Night?”

what keeps you up at nightI spent some time with a great new study today. One you are definitely going to want to know about and add to your recommended list. What Keeps You Up At Night: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams is the latest study from Pete Wilson, founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Pete’s ministry–”an outreach focused on helping people become radically devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside of God’s family with the Gospel–has made Pete a frequent speaker at national and international church conferences.”

I love this line from the website: “Today’s world, with all its expectations, responsibilities, and shortcomings, has created an environment ripe for the kind of uncertainty that has shackled an entire generation. This small-group Bible study helps participants activate faith and trust in God that will propel them forward through fear and anxiety to peace, faithfulness, and trust.”

Based on Pete’s new book by the same titleWhat Keeps You Up At Night hits the bullseye of what I call a cross-cultural study. After all, doesn’t everyone have things that keep them up at night? That’s not a topic that only Christians care about. This is a study that neighbors, friends, co-workers and family will readily identify with and it will make a very easy invite.

What Keeps You Up At Night is a 6 week DVD-driven study featuring teaching by Pete Wilson. With his conversational style and the average session length of 16 minutes, the video segments easily hold group members’ attention.

The Bible study book includes a video viewing guide and an easy-to-use group discussion. It also includes a section between group meetings for personal reflection, organized as Personal Reflection, Deeper Look and Now What? At an average length of 12 pages, this section for personal reflection will take some time to complete but could be completed over several mornings.

If you’re looking for a study that will help your small groups wrestle with a topic that everyone deals with–Christians and nonChristians alike–What Keeps You Up At Night will be a great addition to your recommended list. I loved it and I’m sure your groups will find it extremely helpful.

 

Add David Platt’s Counter Culture to Your Recommended List

counter cultureI finally had an opportunity this week to take a look at Counter Culture, the newest study from David Platt. A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture is designed to expose participants to the truths of the gospel that should “compel us to a contrite, compassionate, and courageous personal response to social issues in the culture.” Based on Platt’s 2015 book by the same title, the study looks at many of the most pressing social issues of the day:

  • slavery
  • abortion
  • sexual immorality
  • the degradation of marriage
  • the neglect of orphans and widows
  • racism
  • persecution

Dr. David Platt is probably best known for challenging books like Radical and Follow Me (and the small group studies that were developed from these books). He is “President of the International Mission Board, is deeply devoted to Christ and His Word. David’s first love in ministry is making disciples, sharing, showing, and teaching God’s Word in everyday life. He has traveled extensively to serve alongside church leaders throughout the United States and around the world (from his bio).”

Counter Culture is a 6 session DVD-driven study. The video segments average just over 30 minutes in length and are both very engaging and extremely challenging. Platt is a dynamic and passionate communicator and has no trouble holding the attention of participants.

The member book includes the now standard video viewing guide and group discussion questions. It also includes a well-written set of daily lessons (5 per week) that build on the group teaching.

This is a simple study to use. Although there isn’t a leader’s guide included, it shouldn’t be difficult for even an inexperienced leader to facilitate. At the same time, the content is deeply challenging. Like everything David Platt does, Counter Culture will reveal a pathway for Christ-followers that leads above and beyond the humdrum salt-free and light-free 21st century Christianity. If you’re looking for a study that will expose your group members to a life that is beyond ordinary, add Counter Culture to your recommended list.

Don’t Miss This Powerful Study: Finding Your Way Back to God

finding your way back to god dvdEarlier this year I reviewed a powerful new book by Dave and Jon Ferguson. In my review I noted that “Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life has tremendous outreach potential and if you’ve not had a chance to spend some time with this book, you need to make time!  This book is a game-changer!”

I am even more excited about the 5 session DVD-driven study that accompanies the book. I believe this might be the most powerful outreach study I’ve ever reviewed.

The DVD segments are very compelling and exactly the right length to grab and hold attention. Both Dave and Jon Ferguson come across as real people who genuinely care about this message. Each session also includes the compelling testimony of some who have found their way back to God. An aspect of the video segments that stands in stark contrast to some is that these people have a very familiar presence and feel like they could be your neighbors. 

I believe this might be the most powerful outreach study I've ever reviewed.

The participant guide is well-written and very easy to use. Although some participants will be anxious about joining a discussion on this topic, most will be quickly made at ease by the tone set in the opening questions. Each session of the study includes an opening icebreaker and questions that will consistently welcome everyone to the conversation. The Bible study portion of the study does a very good job of exploring the Parable of the Prodigal Son. A life application section will help participants make the story personal. Each session also includes optional segments for personal decisions and expanded discussion of additional scripture.

The participant guide also includes an extensive leader guide that will enable even the most inexperienced leader to feel better equipped to lead.

Finding Your Way Back to God is a very powerful study. Whether you are simply looking for a small group study that will connect with friends and neighbors who are far from God or a compelling study for a church-wide campaign, I hope you’ll take a look at Finding Your Way Back to God. I love this study and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

6 Great Studies for Outreach

finding your wayLooking for a study that will appeal to your friends and neighbors? As you know, it takes a special topic to spark an interest in unchurched friends and neighbors. Not just any topic will do. See also, Your Topic Determines Two Huge Outcomes and Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer?.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, I’ve put together a short list of what I think are some of the best outreach oriented studies. And by outreach, I don’t mean purely evangelistic. In some cases the real potential of these studies is simply to start a conversation.

Here are 6 studies that will make invitation easy and the conversation lively:

freeway

Freeway: A Not So Perfect Guide to Freedom is a powerful seven session study by Mike Foster and Garry Poole.  Built on God’s amazing grace, honest conversations with friends, and finding freedom from deepest pain and struggles, Freeway is way more than a study.  It’s an experience in the very best sense of the word.

I love this study.  If you’re looking for a study that will take people on a journey, a grace-filled journey, toward the life God dreams for them, you’ll love this study too.  Freeway is the kind of study that will cause you to see every other study in a new light.  Great stuff.  I loved it and I think you will too.

You can read my full review right here.

finding your way

Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life has the most powerful  outreach potential I’ve come across in a long time. If you’ve not had a chance to spend some time with the book yet, you need to make time!  This book is a game-changer!

I love the potential of this study.  Whether you do the study with a couple friends or use it in your small group, there is real potential for many, many people to find their way back to God.  I highly recommend that you take a look at Finding Your Way Back to God.

As the subtitle indicates, there are five awakenings “that almost always occur in a person’s journey back to God.”  I like the way the authors describe the awakenings: “Where people start and what motivates them to begin this journey are often different, but the stages they go through are remarkably similar.”  The book explores five different “God, if you are real” prayers that are intended to arouse the five awakenings.

You can read my full review of the book right here.

Craig Groeschel’s WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working is based on the central idea that the “broad road leads to destruction” (normal) and the “narrow road” leads to life (weird). Inspired by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:13-14, the study takes a look at a set of topics that will make sense to Christians and non-Christians alike.

The DVD sessions are a combination of key portions of Groeschel’s LifeChurch.TV weekend message series and special segments that introduce, enhance or summarize the topic.  One of the Church’s most dynamic and creative communicators, Craig Groeschel’s practice of looking right at the camera while preaching (making it easy for participants in one of 15 campuses and a  growing number of LifeChurch.TV Network churches around the world who use the teaching video).  The DVD is very compelling. You can read my full review right here.

Based on a 2013 message series by Andy Stanley, Follow is an 8 session DVD-driven study that will take your group “on a journey through the Gospels, tracing Jesus’ teaching on what it means to follow.” I found it particularly intriguing that Stanley pointed out numerous times that Jesus’ first followers were not yet believers.

Back when this series was being given at North Point, I downloaded these messages and listened to them multiple times.  Andy Stanley’s way of explaining what it means to follow Jesus is very easily understood and I shared it with many of my friends.  It might be my favorite Andy Stanley message series.

DVD-driven, each of the sessions is a 17 to 22 minute clip from an Andy Stanley message.  One of the most compelling communicators in America, this is must see TV.  Never flashy or fancy, Stanley is known for his ability to draw out life-changing truth and deliver it in a way that is both inspiring and very memorable.  Follow is an excellent example of his pattern of taking difficult or challenging ideas and presenting them in a way that leads to application.

You can read my full review right here.

what on earth am i here forWhat On Earth Am I Here For?, the 2013 revision of 40 Days of Purpose, definitely remains on my list. Everyone wonders if there is a reason or a purpose to life; if there’s more to it than we make of it. This study addresses questions that everyone has. An easy invite for neighbors and friends, this is a truly cross-cultural topic. In addition, Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life are both very familiar to many unchurched people.

I should note that this is a completely updated study.  Every component, even the Purpose Driven Life itself, has been completely retooled and updated to respond to today’s challenges.  For example, The Purpose Driven Life now includes video introductions and an online audio lesson at the end of each chapter as well as two new bonus chapters on the most common barriers to living the purpose driven life and access to an online community for feedback and support.

Need more information? You can find out more in my full review.

Life-as-We-Know-It-300x300I have to say Life As We Know It is easily one of the most intriguing new small group experiencesI’ve seen in several years.  The powerful idea that makes this study so interesting is that everybody has a story.  Further, “sharing stories is foundational to community and the meaningful relationships we all long for.”

Because Life As We Know It is not a Bible study, it is well-suited for use with neighbors, friends and co-workers as well as small groups and ministry teams.  In my mind, the fact that it is designed to “facilitate gatherings where the art of storytelling is practiced and deeper relationships are forged” is one of the genius elements of the experience. You can read my full review right here.

Review: Discussing Mere Christianity

discussing mere christianitySpent some time this week with a new resource from Zondervan. Discussing Mere Christianity is an 8 session study of C.S. Lewis’s greatest book. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is one of the most read and beloved Christian books of all time. But seventy years later from when it was first delivered on radio, what relevance does it have to our world today? Host Eric Metaxas and a variety of Christian leaders help us understand the timeless message of C.S. Lewis in fresh ways for a new generation.

Hosted by Eric Metaxas, this is far more than a literary exploration and will generate something far beyond a discussion. Metaxas is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller and ECPA “Book of the Year,” Bonhoeffer, the bestseller Amazing Grace and more than thirty other books. He lends the perfect tone for the study.

The 8 topics covered in the study include:

  • Our Sense of Right and Wrong
  • What’s Behind Our Sense of Right and Wrong
  • The Rival Conception of God
  • Free Will and the Shocking Alternatives
  • Christian Behavior and the Great Sin of Pride
  • The Christian Virtue of Hope
  • God in Three Persons
  • Counting the Cost

DVD-driven, the 8 sessions range in length from 19 to 25 minutes and “features teaching from a variety of well-known Lewis scholars and readers, well as comments from two people who met Lewis when he was alive: Walter Hooper, who was Lewis’s secretary and then became the literary executor of the C.S. Lewis estate, and Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson.” Each session is a combination of insightful commentary on the topic and historical footage from the era.

The study guide is not meant to replace reading Mere Christianity, but rather to provide a better understanding of Lewis’s classic work. Each of the 8 sessions includes a reading assignment as well as commentary and group discussion questions that will assist you in your study of the book. A section for personal study is included at the end of each session.

While Discussing Mere Christianity will not be a study that appeals to every group, there will be groups for which it is an excellent addition to your recommended list. Mere Christianity is often mentioned as a must read or a book that has profoundly impacted the lives of many. Discussing Mere Christianity provides a helpful guide to a classic book by C.S. Lewis, considered by many the most important writer of the 20th century.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am also the Small Group Specialist for LifeWay. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hebrews: Don’t Miss This Timely Bible Book Study

hebrews etbSpent some time this week with a new study from LifeWay’s Explore the Bible series. Hebrews is a 13 week study, divided into two study guides: Chapters 1-7 “introduces the Book of Hebrews and gives encouragement and hope to believers.” Chapters 8-13 “helps believers understand how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of a New Covenant.”

The Explore the Bible series provides “deep, book-by-book study. Each study focuses on one book of the Bible (or section of a book) and features questions designed to encourage group discussion. These studies encourage transformational encounters with Scripture that help participants know the Word in a personal and meaningful way. And because the Word equips us “for every good work,” as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3, these studies help adults understand how to live it out in their own life context (from the website).”

Why study the book of Hebrews? (from the website):

  • It was written to a persecuted people.
  • It was written for a church struggling to remain passionate about the gospel.
  • It elevates the superiority of Christ.
  • It reminds struggling believers that they have an advocate and brother in Jesus.
  • It urges believers to endure in the faith until Christ returns because He is returning.

A good leader’s guide is included in the member book. Each session features a creative activity designed to generate good discussion, along with questions that will help your members understand the context, explore the text and obey the text.

The Hebrews study is being featured as a special emphasis this fall by LifeWay. The emphasis includes free additional resources that will enable your church to use Hebrews as a church-wide study.  You can find out more about the emphasis right here.

I like the Hebrews study because the issues of the 1st Century world correspond so directly with those of the 21st Century. If you’re looking for a study that will help your members find hope in the middle of the 21st Century, be sure and take a look at Hebrews.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Keep It Shut: A New DVD-Driven Study from Karen Ehman

keep it shutSpent some time this week with a new six session study from Karen Ehman and Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Keep It Shut: What to Say, When to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All “challenges women to dig deep into what the Bible says about the ways we use our words–both in person and online–and when we should should just keep our lips zipped.”

DVD-driven, each session features Karen Ehman’s teaching, as well as a short vignette with Melissa Taylor (Proverbs 31 Ministries Director of Online Bible Studies).  Ehman is a storyteller and the sessions are engaging.  At an average length of 18 to 23 minutes, they will hold the attention of Bible study members.  The video sessions were filmed in front of a small group of women, providing the feeling of interaction that energizes a gifted communicator.

The study guide includes a video viewing guide (to help highlight a few key points in the teaching and take notes).  Each session also includes a well-written set of discussion questions to be discussed as a group and also in smaller group clusters.  A between sessions study is also included to help maximize the impact.  The between sessions study includes a suggested reading plan to guide participants through the book by the same title that accompanies the study.

Keep It Shut is a study that will be an easy addition to your recommended list.  Karen Ehman’s teaching style helps make a challenging topic easy to swallow and will provoke many great conversations.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ready to Launch: A New Study on Jesus-Centered Parenting

ready to launchHad an opportunity this week to preview a new study from J.D. and Veronica Greear.  J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Summit Church has been one of Outreach magazines top 25 fastest growing churches in America for several years running.  Ready to Launch: Jesus-Centered Parenting in a Child-Centered World is a 7 session study based on Psalm 127 that might be a great fit for your recommended list.

DVD-driven, Ready to Launch features teaching by J.D. and Veronica Greear.  The video sessions are 13 to 17 minutes in length and have the feel of being in a small group listening to two Christian parents talking about a how they raise their children according to scripture, preparing them for God’s mission.  I like the blend of J.D.’s lean forward intensity and Veronica’s more conversational tone.  The video sessions easily hold attention and the Greears are very relatable.

The member book includes a number of basic features:

  • A section for taking notes on the video teaching
  • A smartly written set of discussion questions that will help your group members dig into the Bible for clear understanding
  • A wrap-up section that summarizes the teaching
  • A prayer section that will guide your group to pray with and for each other

Each session in the member book also includes a family action plan activity, designed to help your members put into action what they’ve learned.  Each session also includes two devotions designed to help your members continue to reflect on what they’ve learned.

If you’re looking for a practical and biblically-based study on parenting, you’ll want to take a look at Ready to Launch.  I like this study and I think your groups will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What Love Is: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John

what love isFinally had an opportunity this week to spend some time with a new study from Kelly Minter.  What Love Is: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John is “a theologically rich study–that also includes recipes for deeper fellowship.”  This line from the cover caught my eye as I began my review: “John anchors us with truth in a culture that has lost its way.  He separates light from darkness, offers community for loneliness and rest for our striving.”

What Love Is is a 7 session study DVD-driven study.  Featuring Kelly Minter, “an acclaimed author, speaker, songwriter, and worship leader,” there is a fresh feel to her speaking style that draws you in as though you are in the room.  With an average length of 30 to 34 minutes, she does a good job of holding attention by weaving personal stories into a rich study of the letters of John.

The member book includes a small section for jotting down notes from the video and a set of discussion questions designed to help members reflect on their daily studies from the prior week.  The five daily studies each week will take some commitment.  With 4 to 5 pages per day, your members should expect to spend about an hour a day in their daily study.

The member book also includes a simple leader’s guide with additional questions that “supplement the discussion starter questions on the viewer guide pages…intended to assist you and stimulate discussion.”

If you’re looking for a timely study, What Love Is is a study that will likely strike a chord with many of your members.  “In an age when opinions fly at us unbridled, John gives us the immutable gift of truth. When science and philosophy and your social circles say you can’t really know God, John says, yes you can.  And perhaps most importantly, at a time when the word love means just about anything under the sun, and therefore almost nothing, John tells us ‘this is what love is…(from the introduction).'”

Kelly Minter will be a fresh voice for many groups and the study’s content will provide rich and timely takeaways.  I like What Love Is and I think your groups will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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