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Enlist Your Congregation in the Mission with “Life on Mission”

Life on Mission largeHad an opportunity to preview a new church-wide campaign from Tim Harlow (produced by Lifetogether and published by Pastors.com).  Life on Mission: God’s People Finding God’s Heart for the World is a 6 week campaign that “offers clear Bible teaching designed to empower you to share your faith with people right in your own neighborhood.”

If you’re not familiar with Tim Harlow, he is the senior pastor of Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, Illinois, one of the fastest growing churches in America for 7 of the last 10 years.  I had the great privilege of serving on Tim’s staff at Parkview and am so excited that his teaching ended up in a campaign we can all take advantage of!

Taking his cue from Acts 1:8, the teaching centers on the powerful realization that although reaching the world is important, the United States is actually the 4th largest mission field opportunity and God has placed us where we are for a reason.  Based on Tim’s new book by the same title, I love the way the teaching zeroes in on reaching our own Jerusalem.

DVD-driven, the sessions average 14 to 18 minutes in length and feature a combination of Harlow’s very engaging style of teaching, compelling stories from church members, and a collection of short vignettes by Mindy Caliguire, Tom Holladay, Gene Appel, Jud Wilhite, Lee Strobel, Cam Huxford, Kyle Idelman, Cal Jernigan and Alan Hirsch.

The Life on Mission study guide includes a video viewing guide, an engaging set of discussion questions, a section devoted to applying what you’ve learned, and a digging deeper section designed to help those ready to explore the topic further.  Each of the six sessions also includes a short set of daily quiet time experiences.  A good set of leader and group resources are included in the study guide.

The Life on Mission campaign kit also includes a resource disc loaded with downloadable sermons, series artwork, powerpoint slides, and much more.

If you’re looking for a church-wide campaign that will help your whole congregation step into mission, Life on Mission is calling your name.  I found it very compelling 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.”

Don’t Miss This New Study for Women: Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus

hebrewsSpent some time with a new study from Lisa Harper this week.  Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus is a 7 session study that takes an engaging look at “two contrasting realities: Jesus is supreme, yet Jesus is approachable.”  I reviewed Malachi: A Love that Never Give Up, an earlier study by Harper, about 18 months ago and loved that one.  Hebrews is no different.  I loved it and I bet your members will too.

DVD-driven, each of the video sessions is 30 minutes to 39 minutes long.  Although the video is a little on the long side by ordinary standards, Harper is such a gifted teacher that these sessions fly by.  A great story-teller, you will find yourself captivated (as I did).

Each session in the member book includes a video guide designed to help everyone capture the key ideas in Harper’s teaching as well as a short set of discussion questions.  In addition to these session resources the member book includes a weekly Bible study to be completed independently.  Along with the Bible study, the independent portion also includes a creative exercise of some kind.  For example, week one’s assignment is to rent and watch To Kill a Mockingbird and think about several application questions.  Finally, every session includes a “extra credit questions for Bible nerds.”

Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus is a powerful study.  It ought to be on your radar.  If you’re not familiar with Lisa Harper, you will be soon.  This is good stuff.  I think your members will really find themselves captivated and with a new appreciation for the book of 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 will receive an affiliate commission. In addition, LifeWay is a regular sponsor here at MarkHowellLive.com. 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.”

New from Bill Hybels: Wiser Together Is a Very Good Addition

wiser togetherWorked my way through a new study from Bill Hybels.  Wiser Together: Learning to Live the Right Way “challenges you and your small group to make doing life together a priority, exploring from the book of Proverbs the inseparable connection between experiencing community and growing in wisdom.”

DVD-driven, Wiser Together is a short study, just 5 sessions.  Featuring teaching by Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the sessions are classic examples of his style.  Each segment is a manageable length, the average time is 13 to 18 minutes.

The study guide includes all of the elements needed for a very good time together.  Along with a video viewing guide, each session includes a warm-up question or two designed to get your group engaged and talking.  A good set of discussion questions pulls members into a better understanding of the wisdom of scripture and a deeper study section provides another question or two if you have time to go further.

The study guide also includes a personal journal section designed to provide a daily experience.  Each day offers the opportunity to reflect, respond and record your thoughts as you study the proverbs.  It’s a short assignment, but will definitely help those new to group life to dig in and get the hang of spending time in the Bible.

In addition, the study guide includes a great set of leader and group resources.  Tips for HOSTs, a group agreement, ideas for inviting friends, a group calendar and a group roster.  While there isn’t a leader’s guide, these resources will certainly help less experienced leaders put together a very good experience.

Wiser Together is a very good addition to the recommended list.  I can definitely see this study becoming a “go to” resource for new groups looking for a good starter study.  I can also see it working very well to establish (or re-establish) a healthy group culture.

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.”

Soul Keeping: A Important New Study from John Ortberg

soul keeping dvdHad a chance to preview John Ortberg’s newest DVD-driven study this week.  Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You is based on Ortberg’s book by the same title and is an exploration of the soul from “the perspective of someone who has struggled to understand and care for his own soul.”  A very personal study, Soul Keeping will take your group in a life-changing direction.

DVD-driven, Soul Keeping is a six-session study featuring classic Ortberg teaching on what might be his sweetest sweet spot.  At 22 to 25 minutes long, the video segments are at the upper end of attention span, but honestly, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the story that the time flies right by.

The study guide includes all of the elements you need for an engaging study:

  • An extensive video viewing guide with space to take notes along with the quotes you wish you could write down and the illustrations that make the idea clear.
  • A group discussion guide that opens the door to an engaging conversation about the key ideas of the session.
  • A short individual activity to be completed on your own during the group meeting.
  • A group practice to complete individually during the following week.  The practice is designed to help members to deeply apply what they are learning.
  • A personal study is also included for the following week.  Although it could be completed in one sitting, each personal study is fairly extensive (6 to 10 pages).

If you’re wondering how to help your group members reclaim or restore their sense of soul health, Soul Keeping might be the most important study your group will do this year.  I loved every minute of it and I think your group 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 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.”

A Great Study for Men: A Man and His Work

a man and his workTook a look at A Man and His Work this week.  The latest in a line of men’s studies called 33 The Series, it was inspired by the Men’s Fraternity material created by Robert Lewis (I reviewed part 1 of the series right here).  The relevance of the title caught my attention and the content of the study held my attention very well.

DVD-driven, A Man and His Work is a six session study that features teaching by Bryan Carter (senior pastor of Concord Church), Tierce Green (lead house church pastor of The Church Project),  and John Bryson (founding pastor of Fellowship Memphis).  These three communicators are known for their ability to connect with men.  The DVD segments average 30 to 35 minutes in length and include a variety of elements: teaching, man on the street interviews, and personal testimonies.

A Man and His Work wrestles with the following topics:

  • The tensions of work
  • A blueprint for work
  • Having courage at work
  • Essentials to help you follow the blueprint
  • Six traps to avoid at work
  • Six work catalyzers

The Training Guide includes a note-taking section to be used while viewing the teaching segment, as well as a reflection and discussion guide that will direct the group experience.  In addition, you’ll also find an engaging set of short between-session reading assignments on a series of topics that will capture and hold the attention of group members.  Because of the way the questions are designed, no leader is required.

The Leader Kit comes with a second DVD that includes a promotional trailer, leader ideas, creative ideas for building a men’s large group study and much more.

A Man and His Work is well designed to engage men in a study that will inspire and challenge.  The teaching has just the right amount of Biblical straight talk to keep men tuned in.  The discussion questions are pitched at the right level to help men engage.  And the between session reading assignments are short enough to be doable for every man.  If you’re looking for a study that will engage the men in your congregation, you need to take a look at A Man and His Work.  I like this study and this series, 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 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.”

Don’t Miss Matt Chandler’s Newest Study: Recovering Redemption

recovering redemptionHad the opportunity to take a look at Matt Chandler’s newest study this week.  Chandler, lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, is one of America’s most popular preachers.  He is the author of a number of books and a regular contributor of Bible study  curriculum.  In Recovering Redemption: How Christ Changes Everything Chandler “gets to root of brokenness and our destructive patterns of behavior.”

Recovering Redemption is a 12 session DVD-driven study.  The video segments are classic Chandler.  28 to 36 minutes each, this is weekend sermon footage recorded live at The Village Church in 2013.  Chandler is a powerful speaker in the way few preachers are and these messages are no exception.  The DVD also includes several personal stories of redemption.

The Recovering Redemption study is designed to include three important components.

  • Attend each group experience (where you’ll watch the video, complete the viewing guide and participate in the group discussions).
  • Complete the content in the member book
  • Read Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer’s book Recovering Redemption

The member book (also referred to as the Bible study workbook) includes:

  • A video viewing guide that is designed to help members focus attention on the teaching, capture important ideas, and take notes.
  • Discussion questions for each session that will guide your conversation about the video and also about learnings in the weekly Bible study.
  • Each week includes three personal Bible studies that will take members deep into the topic.

A companion book by the same title is available to be read alongside the study.  Cowritten by Chandler and Michael Snetzer (a groups pastor at The Village Church), is very readable.  Written in an almost conversational style and packed with stories and illustrations that make the concept leap off the page, the book will help members take the message even further.

Recovering Redemption is an extremely powerful study.  If you’ve never heard Matt Chandler, you’re in for a kind of treat.  Although deeply theological, his messages always break through my personal bias toward seeker sensitive in the first few minutes and I find myself listening intently, caught off guard and fully immersed in what God’s word has to say to me.

I begin my review of every Matt Chandler study with my own bias completely in control and within minutes find myself thinking about all of the small groups that really need this study.  Recovering Redemption is a must add to your recommended list.  I highly recommend it.

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.”

Don’t Miss the New Beth Moore Study: Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians

children of the dayHad an opportunity to preview Beth Moore’s newest study this week.  Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, is the latest in a growing line of women’s Bible studies and is going to be a great ride!

There are 9 DVD sessions (an introduction and 8 interactive teaching videos, each approximately 1 hour long).  I can’t think of any Bible teacher with more love for God’s word, more intensity and energy than Beth Moore.  Children of the Day is Exhibit A at this point.  Whether you’re a long time Beth Moore fan or brand new to her work, you are going to love listening to her teach.

Like the other Beth Moore studies you are familiar with, the Children of the Day experience includes a member book that is an important element.  The member book includes the video viewing guide with fill-in-the-blanks and space for note-taking.  Also included in the member book is the now familiar daily homework and Bible study (5 days a week).  Fairly intense, members can plan on investing about an hour a day in the homework.  In addition to the daily homework, a very helpful set of review questions will help participants talk about what they learned.

The member book also includes a special 28 day challenge (beginning week 5) that women may choose to participate in as they complete the final weeks of Bible study.

A very helpful aspect of the study are the levels of participation introduced in the James study in 2011.  Rather than feel any shame or embarrassment over failing to complete the homework, participants are encouraged to choose a level of participation.  The levels are as follows:

  • Level 1 watch DVDs only
  • Level 2 watch DVDs and complete weekly homework
  • Level 3 watch DVDs, complete homework, and write out 1 & 2 Thessalonians
  • Level 4 watch DVDs, complete homework, write out 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and memorize 1 & 2 Thessalonians

The leader kit also includes a comprehensive leader’s guide.  Whether you’re an experienced veteran leader or this is your first time leading a Bible study, you’ll appreciate the detailed instructions, tips and ideas included in the leader’s guide.

I have to say, this is a study that will powerfully impact lots of women.  Very timely, the themes of Children of the Day will definitely resonate with participants.  I have a feeling this study will be very popular!

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.”

New from Jennie Allen: Restless: Because You Were Made for More

restlessI’ve been working my way through a new study from Jennie Allen this week.  Restless: Because You Were Made for More is an 8 session study of the life of Joseph.  More importantly, Restless is a study that “helps you discover a practical plan to identify the threads of your life and how to weave them together for God’s glory and purposes.”

DVD-driven, Restless is a little less artsy and a little more straight up Bible study delivery than Chase, but is absolutely still 100% genuine Jennie Allen.  Bursting with enthusiasm for God’s word, Allen delivers with no-holds-barred energy in every session.

The study guide is designed to guide participants on a journey of discovery far beyond the life of Joseph.  While nowhere near overwhelming, working through each week’s lesson will provide the right amount of challenge for most.  Enough to require measured engagement; not too much to intimidate newer or less experienced participants.  Very well written, there is both depth and plenty of next steps prescribed.

As was the case with Chase, I really love the creative elements of the Restless.  Every session includes four projects designed to creatively open eyes to see and ears to hear the biblical truths being taught.  Exercises that help draw out insights or explore more deeply make this study move well beyond a fill-in-the-blank experience.

Another very cool ingredient are the conversation cards that accompany each session.  Introducing the ingredient of play, the cards nonetheless prompt a deeper, more provocative conversation.

An extremely helpful leader’s guide is included in the study kit.  It’s no exaggeration for me to call this one of the most helpful leader’s guides you’ll ever run across.  Very complete, even the least experienced leaders will find the helps they need to lead with confidence.

I really like this study.  Whether you’re looking for a new study for off-campus women’s small groups or an on-campus Bible study, you definitely need to have Restless on your radar.  It will surely be a life-changing experience for those who do the work of discovering how the threads of their life reveal God’s purposes.

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.”

Don’t Miss This Timely Study from Rick Warren: Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You

son of godI had a chance to spend some time this week with a powerful new study from Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.  Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You, is a new 6 session small group study based on the feature film produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

DVD-driven, this 6 session study features teaching by Rick Warren as he explains how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus.  The video sessions are 20 to 35 minutes in length and are enhanced with scenes from the Son of God movie.

Son of God focuses on a very powerful set of themes that do much more than follow the life of Jesus.  This study is designed to give you “practical steps to overcome temptation, suffering, and persecution and leverage these challenges to discover and fulfill God’s plan for you.”

The 6 session titles and themes are:

  • Jesus’ Baptism and Your Baptism
  • Jesus’ Temptation and Your Temptation
  • Jesus’ Suffering and Your Suffering
  • Jesus’ Death and Your Death
  • Jesus’ Resurrection and Your Resurrection
  • Jesus’ Ministry and Your Ministry

The study guide provides a number of very important features:

  • A lesson outline designed to help you take notes as you watch the session video
  • Discovery questions designed to help you dig in to the truths you are learning,
  • Application exercises to help you put what you’re learning into practice
  • Prayer helps
  • Additional scripture for further study and personal devotions

Son of God is very skillfully designed to be user friendly.  The member book makes it easy for just about anyone to host a study in their home, at work, at church or even at a coffee shop.  Every member book includes a set of helps for hosts.  The video is very inspiring and application oriented.

Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You is a very powerful experience.  The unique combination of Rick Warren’s sensitivity to the hangups and hurts of real people coupled with the compelling video from the feature film make this study very timely.  If you’re on the lookout for small group material that is an easy invite and even easier to use, don’t miss this study.  I highly recommend it!

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.”

Please Don’t Miss This Resource! Life As We Know It

HostBox_WhiteBGI’ve been getting to know a fascinating new study developed by Spread Truth called Life As We Know It.  If you’ve been along for much of the journey here, you know I review a lot of small group studies.  I have to say Life As We Know It is easily one of the most intriguing new small group experiences I’ve seen in several years.

Don’t miss the special promotion below!

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.

There are a number of very cool aspects that will make this an easy invite.  From the simple invitations to the Story Books and Questions in a Box, the materials have a very good feel.  The four sessions in the Story Book are designed to produce an engaging conversation.  I really like the simple design.  Not too slick, the Story Books keep the focus on interaction.  The Host Box includes a set of conversation starting questions (a free app is also available at questionsinabox.com).

I really can imagine Life As We Know It being a key to building relationships in all kinds of places and and all kinds of groups.  Not the usual prefab Bible study, some host training could be an advantage, but not essential.  Keeping in mind that simply getting to know the stories of neighbors, co-workers, friends and family will open the door to entirely new experiences…I’m loving thinking about the doors of opportunity this study will open.

Take Advantage of This Special Promotion!

Want to get the feel of the material?  The folks at Spread Truth have a great promotion going for the first 250 customers.  A free Host Box (a $35 value)!  Use the Coupon Code: FreeHostBox at checkout.  Shipping is not included (should be about $6).  Offer expires 4/30/14.  Take advantage of this special offer right here.

LifeAsWeKnow.It from spreadtruth on Vimeo.

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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