MarkHowellLive.com

Pushing Boundary-Free GroupLife

Category: Small Group Curriculum (page 1 of 23)

Redeemed: Grace to Live Every Day Better than Before

redeemedI spent some time this week with a new study from Angela Thomas-Pharr and LifeWay that I think you may want to take a look at. Redeemed: Grace to Live Every Day Better Than Before explores the practical side of redemption and what it means to experience the grace to live every day better than before.

DVD-driven, Redeemed is a 7 session study featuring the teaching of Angela Thomas-Pharr. Angela is a Bible teacher, national speaker, and best-selling author of books and Bible studies. Each video segment is about 35 minutes in length and carried off well by Thomas’ spunky southern accent and vibe.

The Bible study book includes several of the normal ingredients. A video-viewing guide (to help members keep up with the teaching on the video), discussion questions (found in the Leader Guide portion of the member book), and daily homework (a 40 days of prayer experience). The discussion questions are written to help members wrestle with what they’re learning. The daily homework is designed to take members deeply into the Book of Psalms and pray consistently for 40 days.

If you’re looking for a Bible study that will help your members develop their prayer life and experience the kind of genuine change God wants for all of us, Redeemed is a study you ought to take a look at. Although this topic may not attract everyone, those who do participate will have the kind of life-changing experience they need to have to truly become the people God made them to be.

New from Louie Giglio | relat(able): Making Relationships Work

relatableI spent some time this week with a new study you’re probably going to want to know about. Relatable: Making Relationships Work is the newest study from Louie Giglio and when I read the title and a little bit of a description I knew I needed to take a look at it. Why? Because there are very few people with more experience talking about relationships.

Not familiar with Louie Giglio? He is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of Passion Conferences—a global movement of college-aged people living for the fame of Jesus Christ. A dynamic and effective communicator, Louie holds a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Shelley, live in Atlanta.

DVD-driven,  Relatable is a 6 session study that features Giglio teaching live from a message series at Passion City Church in early 2015. The video sessions are excerpted from full messages and average 18 to 23 minutes long. A powerful speaker, Giglio has no trouble holding your members attention. Spoiler Alert: There are a number of moments when God’s presence in the room is palpable.

The study guide is well written and includes a mix of the expected with a twist of the unexpected. Every session opens with a short examination of a scripture passage designed to set up the topic. Every session also includes a video viewing guide (designed to help you capture insights from the video), a very engaging set of group discussion questions, and a unique section called Becoming Relat(able). This section features a very creative set of activities designed to produce a very powerful experience for participants.

The study guide also includes a weekly between sessions study that features a love yourself exercise and a love your neighbor exercise.

Finally, the study guide includes a short leader guide designed to help leaders anticipate some of the creative details of every session.

I’m really glad I got a look at Relatable.  If you’re looking for a study that will help your group members look at relationships the way God intended them to be, take the time to review this one. Just like me you’ll be adding it to your recommended list.

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. 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.”

Take a Fresh Look at LifeGuide Bible Studies

sermon on the mountLooking for some easy-to-use Bible studies you can recommend to your small group leaders? You might want to take a fresh look at IVP Connect’s LifeGuide Bible Study series.

Although the LifeGuide Bible Study series is not new, it will be to many small group leaders and group members. While more than 15 million LifeGuide studies have been sold over the years, it’s likely that it will be unfamiliar to most of your group leaders and members.

Since it is very common for group leaders to look for a study that will guide their group through a book of the Bible, a particular part of the Bible, or an important topic of the Bible, there’s even a LifeGuide Finder designed to help your leaders choose the right next Bible study for their group. You can sample it right here.

I particularly like the easy-to-use format of these studies. Every study includes a helpful “Getting the Most out of ____________” section that does a good job of introducing the significance of the Bible book or topic as well as important themes. Leaders and members who want to really dig in deeply will want to read this section.

An inductive Bible study, the individual lessons within each study are straightforward and well-written, designed to help members discover for themselves what the Bible is saying. A group discussion starter question (like an ice-breaker) is included to prime the discussion pump. There is also a question for personal reflection that will help focus members on the important topic about to be discussed. The flow of the study questions takes members from observation to interpretation to application.

Leader’s notes are included in every study guide, making this study an easy one for members to take turns facilitating.

If you’re looking for a series of reliable and easy-to-use studies for groups ready to dig into the Bible, consider bookmarking this site to pass on to your leaders. I like this series and I’m sure your leaders and members will as well.

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. 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 Beautiful Design: God’s Unchanging Plan for Manhood and Womanhood

beautiful designSpent some time this week with a new DVD-driven study from Matt Chandler. A Beautiful Design: God’s Unchanging Plan for Manhood and Womanhood is classic Chandler. Straight from the Bible, the lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex tackles one of the most important issues of our time.

“What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? In our society today, there is a massive amount of confusion about manhood and womanhood. Is there a difference between them? If so, what is the difference? The answers our culture offers only further serve to muddy the water. Is there a clearly defined picture? If so, where can we find it? (from the introduction)”

Is this a conversation you’re having anywhere? No doubt it is happening in your world every day and over and over. I have to tell you Matt Chandler handles this topic in a very intelligent and with a sensitivity that is quite powerful.

A Beautiful Design is an 9 session DVD-driven study.  The video segments are classic Chandler.  31 to 42 minutes each, this is weekend sermon footage recorded live at The Village Church in 2014.  Chandler is a powerful speaker in the way few preachers are and these messages are no exception.

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 Family Discipleship page offers an opportunity “to craft a vibrant family discipleship experience around three key elements: time, moments, and milestones.

Chandler is a very powerful speaker. Very smart, he easily captures and holds attention 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.  A Beautiful Design is a must add to your recommended list.  This is a conversation your group members are immersed in every day and they will richly benefit from this study. I highly recommend it.

Unleash a Powerful Wave of Impact with The Miracle of Mercy: Saddleback’s Newest Campaign

miracle of mercyIf you want to know how to leverage a church-wide campaign to unite a congregation around a purpose and fan into flame difference-making action…you absolutely must take a look at Saddleback’s newest spiritual growth campaign. This is very powerful stuff. Don’t miss it!

I have pointed out many times that Saddleback strategically uses their small group ministry to drive ministry initiatives (think 40 Days of Community and the P.E.A.C.E project). There has never been a better example than The Miracle of Mercy. If you want to unleash a tidal wave of impact on your community and the world, you must take a look at this campaign.

The Miracle of Mercy, a new 6 six-week church-wide campaign, is anchored by a weekend teaching series that launched the weekend after Easter and is happening as I write this review. You can watch the first three messages right here.

The first few lines of the study set the tone and direction:

“Did you know that God’s mercy is his number one characteristic in the Bible? More than his sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence or any other fancy words about him–more than anger or justice or judgement–more than anything else, the number one attribute of God in scripture is his mercy (from session one).”

DVD-driven, the small group study features Rick Warren’s engaging teaching. Although the segments are 27 to 31 minutes long, the topic and delivery does a good job of grabbing and holding attention.

The study guide includes both the small group study and a 40 day devotional guide; everything needed for a great study. A teaching outline is included in each session to capture the key ideas from the video teaching. A well-written set of discussion questions makes it easy to shift into discussion after watching the DVD together.

Every session of the study also includes personal and group assignments to put learnings into practice (that participants will not just be hearers, but doers also). At Saddleback, where the teaching series is in progress as I write this review, groups are being directed to choose projects from this mercy project page. The project page presents an inspiring example of what your church could do.

More than a small group study, The Miracle of Mercy is a church-wide spiritual growth campaign and includes everything you will need to take your congregation on the same journey.

The campaign starter kit includes:

  • 1 Study Guide
  • 1 DVD Small Group Curriculum
  • 1 Bookmark Sample
  • 1 Campaign Resource Disc
  • Downloadable Campaign Success Guide
  • Downloadable The Miracle of Mercy Sermon Series (***available April–May 2016***)
  • BONUS: FIRST …the debut worship album from Saddleback Worship

As I write this review, the Miracle of Mercy is happening right now at Saddleback. Although the downloadable sermon series is in progress and not yet complete, the starter kits are available now.

I love The Miracle of Mercy! If you want to unleash a tidal wave of impact on your community and the world, you must take a look at this campaign.

Don’t Miss Wonderlife: The Latest Study from Mike Foster and SecondChance.org

wonderlifeI’ve spent some time with a new resource from Mike Foster and the folks at SecondChance.org this week. I think Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here is something you’re going to want to add to your recommended list.

Wonderlife “takes people on an authentic journey through their not-so-perfect stories to find their sacred calling.” Based on the principles of Psalm 139, the small group workbook, DVD and weekend series can easily be used as a church-wide campaign. The journey is wrapped around four lifemarks:

  • I believe my story matters
  • I am unashamed of what I love and care about
  • I am honest about my obstacles and opportunities
  • I am fully present for my life

“Living the wonderlife means who you say you are will never overshadow who God says you are. In scripture, Jesus always tells us who we are before He tells us what to do. God says, ‘You are mine. You are my beloved.’ And that’s enough if you let it be (from the introduction).”

Wonderlife is similar to Freeway, their previous project, in that it is just about as creative a resource as anything I’ve ever seen and unlike any other curriculum.

The video segments are available free online or can be purchased as a DVD. At about 10 minutes in length, they’re easy on the attention span. Featuring Mike Foster’s conversational style, they feel like you’re in the room with a friend who has a story to tell.

The workbook is very creative. Prepare for each session with a series of wonderfully creative exercises designed to help you understand yourself in a new and different way. The group discussion questions are well written and along with the video segment will generate a great discussion.

Wonderlife covers the kind of topic that makes an easy invite for friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Although it is designed to generate a fairly personal discussion, it comes at it from such an exploratory angle, it ends up being fun and engaging at the same time.

If you’re looking for a study that makes for a great outreach opportunity, take a look at Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here. I think you’ll like what you find. I loved 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 will 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.”

The End of Me: Another Great Study from Kyle Idleman and City on a Hill

end of meI had an opportunity to preview the newest Kyle Idleman study this week. Idleman is a teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church, one of the largest churches in the country with nearly 21,000 in attendance every weekend. He is also an author and presenter on several projects with City on a Hill Productions.

Idleman’s latest book, The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside Down Ways of Jesus Begins, examined Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and unpacking the many counter-intuitive truths, including: brokenness is the way to wholeness, mourning is the path to blessing, and emptiness is required in order to know true fullness.

For me, not many small group studies are as eagerly anticipated as anything new from Kyle Idleman and the crew at City on a Hill Productions. Idleman’s previous study, Not a Fan, challenged us to pick up our cross and die to ourself. The End of Me “explores the upside down paths that lead us to Jesus.”

Produced by City on a Hill, The End of Me is the latest in an growing catalog of some of the most compelling and artistically creative studies available. I’ve reviewed a number of earlier studies from City on a Hill and it’s not a stretch to say that the production values are always top notch, even remarkable. The End of Me is no exception (Not a Fan, H20, and The Easter Experience).

The End of Me is a four week DVD-driven study that features the personal testimonies of author and spoken word artist Jefferson Bethke, NBA star Landry Fields, founder and director of Scarlet Hope Rachelle Starr, and the former manager of Apple Records Ken Mansfield.

An easy to use leader’s guide provides the discussion questions designed to expand every participants understanding of the topic. In addition, each session includes a creative element designed to enhance the impact of the teaching. The End of Me also features a daily journal designed to provide additional reflection and encouragement for the participant, extending the teaching beyond the session itself.

The End of Me picks up right where Not a Fan left off. I found what I anticipated. This is a powerful study that will help many begin to follow the life-changing teaching of Jesus. I loved it 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. 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.”

5 Great Post-Easter Studies

Looking for a way to connect unconnected people right after Easter? Yesterday I shared how to take full advantage of an early Easter to connect more people in groups.

Here are 5 great studies that will connect more people after Easter

transformedTransformed: How God Changes Us is the latest study from Rick Warren.  Anchored in the apostle Paul’s profound truth in Romans 12:2, this study explores what the Bible has to say about seven essential areas of our lives: Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, and Vocational.

If you’re looking for a study that will connect less frequent attenders,Transformed has a number of advantages.  Rick Warren’s name is very recognizable and deals with a topic that is fairly cross-cultural (who doesn’t wish they could change something about themselves?).

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!

Finding Your Way Back to God is being done as a campaign series as I write this review at Community Christian Church in the Chicago.  The resources you need to put on your own campaign will be available from July to December (including sermon transcripts, small group participant/leader guides, teaching videos, series bumper video, and website graphic).  You can sign up to find out more right here.

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

 

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.

resurrected bookThe Resurrected Life: Making All Things New is a 7 week study designed to be used following Easter. Part of a three study series (the Christian Life Trilogy), The Resurrected Life was developed by Rev. Charlie Holt and produced by LifeTogether. The rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lake Mary, FL, I first learned about Holt in 2004 when he led his congregation to do 40 Days of Purpose and then shared one of the most remarkable and powerful stories of community transformation.

I really like the potential of The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New and this series! If you’re looking for a series that will help your congregation explore the new life available in Christ, please take a look at The Resurrected Life.  I like this study and I think it’s a great resource that will help many congregations.

You can read my full review right here.

what keeps you up at nightWhat 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.

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.

You can read my full review right here.

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. 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.”

The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New

resurrected lifeI spent some time with a new DVD-driven study this week that is almost a one-of-a-kind. The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New is a 7 week study designed to be used following Easter. Part of a three study series (the Christian Life Trilogy), The Resurrected Life was developed by Rev. Charlie Holt and produced by LifeTogether. The rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lake Mary, FL, I first learned about Holt in 2004 when he led his congregation to do 40 Days of Purpose and then shared one of the most remarkable and powerful stories of community transformation.

“The Bible promises that those who are in Christ are “new creatures.” But how does that transformation take place? This unique Easter-season curriculum provides a space in which we can discover what truly means to live a new life. As we listen, we’ll learn how the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything–for us (from the cover).”

The Resurrected Life shows you how to live every day in the hope and power of the resurrection. The seven sessions explore:

  • All Things New: Overcoming Doubt and Fear
  • New Life: Letting Go and Letting God
  • New Temple: Inviting God’s Presence
  • New Body: Manifesting Jesus
  • New Covenant: Experiencing Resurrection Power
  • New Creation: Stewarding the Good News
  • New Day: Living in the “Now” but “Not Yet”

DVD-driven, the video segments feature teaching by Rev. Charlie Holt and a powerful set of personal testimonies. At 10 to 12 minutes in length, the segments are just about right. Short enough to hold everyone’s attention and long enough to set up an important discussion.

The study guide is well-written and easy to use. Each session is designed with a simple flow that makes it very possible for newer leaders to feel confident and effective. The study guide also includes several leader resources that will help enhance the member experience.

A daily devotional with 49 focused reflections will also enrich the experience. Spending time each day, continuing the journey, will encourage members to deeply reflect seven key areas of life transformation.

Produced by LifeTogether, The Resurrected Life campaign includes downloadable templates for flyers, posters, powerpoint backgrounds, and web banners. An excellent campaign manual is available right here.

For churches planning to use The Resurrected Life as a church-wide campaign, you’ll find the complete collection of sermon audios right here.

There are two other studies in the Christian Life Trilogy (The Crucified Life and The Spirit-Filled Life). “While these studies can be done at any time of the year, many congregations use The Crucified Life and The Resurrected Life for Lent and Easter and then kick off The Spirit-Filled Life in the fall season after Pentecost (from the brochure).”

I really like the potential of The Resurrected Life: Making All Things New and this series! If you’re looking for a series that will help your congregation explore the new life available in Christ, please take a look at The Resurrected Life.  I like this study and I think it’s a great resource that will help many congregations.

New from Priscilla Shirer: The Armor of God is a Can’t-Miss Study

armor of GodI spent some time with The Armor of God this week. Priscilla Shirer’s newest study is definitely one you need to know about and add to your recommended list. Shirer is one of today’s most powerful speakers and The Armor of God leaves nothing on the field. The daughter of well-known pastor and Bible teacher Tony Evans, Shirer is a very popular teacher in her own right.  A dynamic communicator, this is a study that will resonate very well with many Bible study groups.

A seven session DVD-driven study (with six weeks of daily Bible studies), The Armor of God presents the powerful truth that while “a very real enemy has been strategizing and scheming against you, assaulting you, coming after your emotions, your mind, your man, your child, your future,” you can “be armed and dangerous, prepared to stand firm against his insidious schemes (from the introduction).”

The DVD sessions allow Shirer’s dynamic teaching to shine. Averaging 35 to 40 minutes in length, Shirer’s powerful delivery of scriptural truth interspersed with captivating personal stories easily captures and holds the listener’s attention.

The Armor of God is designed to be used by groups or Bible studies that meet once a week to watch the video and then do the personal work on their own through the week. The leader’s guide in the back of the member Bible study book provides direction and some tips on what to do in the weekly group meeting. With a little preparation, leaders will have no trouble guiding a good discussion about what participants have learned in their personal study.

The Bible study book includes both the weekly video viewing guide (with fill-in-the-blank notes and room to jot down other insights), as well as daily work for five homework sessions. The daily homework sessions are challenging and will require a 30 to 60 minute investment. Built-in activities in each session provide memorable takeaways that participants who dig in will find genuinely impactful.

If helping the women in your church learn to use the armor of God in their daily battle against the schemes of the evil one sounds like an important truth to give them, The Armor of God is a must-add to your recommended list. Whether you use it for an on-campus or off-campus study, this study will shape participants in a life-changing way.

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. 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.”
Older posts