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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.”

Starting Point: A Conversation about Faith

starting pointI spent some time this week with a resource I think you should know about and if you already know about it, maybe rethink how it might be used.  Starting Point: A Conversation about Faith is not a new resource, although this is a revised version.  And I have to be honest.  I had heard about it many times over the last few years, but I had never looked at it.

Starting Point is an 8 week DVD-driven study featuring Andy Stanley that is based on the understanding that many of us might need a new starting point for our faith.  I like the way the cover of the conversation guide puts it: “Everything has a starting point–your life, your relationships, your education, your career.  Sometimes we forget that faith has a starting point as well.  For some of us, our faith journeys began in childhood as a set of beliefs handed to us by a parent, teacher or pastor.  Maybe you developed a framework of faith based on personal experience.  Or maybe you had no faith at all.  Too often, a faith formed in childhood isn’t strong enough to withstand the pressures of adult life.”

The DVD features Andy Stanley and the video is taken from a series of messages delivered live at North Point.  Each of the segments is 22 to 25 minutes delivered by one of the most compelling communicators in America and they easily hold attention.  As is the case on most North Point studies, the DVD also includes full messages in addition to the segments.

The DVD also includes a downloadable leader’s guide and a collection of additional resources (banner ad, templates for bulletins, postcards, and posters, as well as a powerpoint template).  The leader’s guide is very thorough on it’s own, but also includes a link to an online leader’s resource that is even more complete.

The conversation guide includes everything you need for a great experience.  Designed a little differently than many study guides, the intent is that members spend some time each week in preparation for the group meeting, work their way through a short set of readings and questions for reflection, and then come to the meeting prepared to talk about what they’ve learned.

If your church is looking for a way to help seekers (those who are curious about God, Jesus, the Bible or Christianity), starters (those who have just begun a relationship with Jesus Christ), or returners (those who have some church experience but have been away for awhile), Starting Point is a fantastic resource.  I also think this is a great study for individual small groups that are comprised of seekers, starters, and returners.  I love this new edition and I think you’ll agree that it is a great resource.

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.”

 

 

5 Studies that Will Connect People after Easter

Early Easters present a third very good connecting opportunity.  In 2015 Easter is almost as early as it can be (April 5th) and leaves almost two months before summer.  See also, 5 Keys to Launching Groups Year Round.

If you want to connect unconnected people, you must select topics that will actually appeal to unconnected people.  See also, Preoccupied with the Needs and Interests of the Right People.

5 Studies that Will Connect People after Easter

Here are 5 studies that are good possibilities and will connect unconnected people after Easter.

transformed bookTransformed: 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.

jesus isJesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human is an 8 session small group study that reveals the character of Jesus in a powerful way.  Judah Smith is the Lead Pastor of The City Churcha multi-site church with thousands in attendance each weekend in the Seattle area.

If you’re looking for a topic that might appeal to infrequent attenders, you might want to consider Jesus Is _______.  Virtually no one has a problem with Jesus and many people who don’t believe He is God are still intrigued by His teaching and influence.  You can read my full review right here.

overwhelmed book Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry is a six week, DVD-driven study on a topic that is dead center for many, many people.  Perry Noble, the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church, “a growing, vibrant church with multiple locations all over the state of South Carolina,” is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible.

The application elements that are built in to the Bible study book are really exceptional.  Some very good work has crafted an excellent experience.  I loved Overwhelmed and I think you will too.  You can read my full review right here.

7 questions[7] Seven Questions that Rattle in the Minds of Most Men is a powerful new study based on a 7 week study that has been offered at North Point over the last several years.  Now available from North Point Ministries, this is a resource you need to be aware of.

Offering a selection of studies could engage a larger number of unconnected people.  It’s easy to imagine this study grabbing the attention of the unconnected men in your church.  You can read my full review right here.

the best yes

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands is a new study by Lysa TerKeurst.  In this six-session video-based Bible study TerKeurst shares how to make better use of the two most powerful words, yes and no.  Using Biblical teaching and practical insights this study will help you be more equipped to discern the best answers for your life.

I am always looking for studies that will interest a broad cross section of adults.  When I can find a topic that appeals to new Christians and seasoned veterans, and will even appeal to friends and neighbors, I know I’ve found a winner; what I call a cross-cultural study.  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 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.”

The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating: A Great New Study from Andy Stanley

love sex and datingSpent some time with a new DVD-driven study from Andy Stanley this week.  The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating is a four session study that you’re going to want to know about.  In this study Stanley explores “the challenges, assumptions and land mines associated with dating in the twenty-first century.  Best of all, he offers the most practical and uncensored advice you will ever hear on this topic (from the cover).”

Who is the study designed for?  While the primary audience is single adults, married adults will have no trouble relating and learning.  Keep in mind that the video segments were taken from a weekend message series at North Point.  What about teens and young adults?  This study ought to be required.

While the session titles provide a preview of where these sessions are going, like every Andy Stanley study Love, Sex & Dating is very creatively and memorably arranged.

  • The Right Person Myth
  • Gentlemen’s Club
  • Designer Sex
  • If I Were You

DVD-driven, Love, Sex & Dating features teaching by Andy Stanley, one of the most compelling communicators in America.  At an average length of 20 minutes, the video segments easily hold the attention of participants.

The small group discussion guide is built in to a book by the same title that accompanies the DVD.  Easy to use, the discussion guide includes a short introduction, a simple video video viewing notes section, and a very good set of discussion questions.  The discussion guide also features a simple between sessions assignment that includes a verse to memorize and a section of the book to read.

The book is very well written and packed with great insights.  No holds barred, Andy Stanley addresses the topic of love, sex and dating in an eye opening way that grabs attention.

The New Rules of Love, Sex & Dating is a great study!  I’m already thinking about how to use this content and get it in the hands of the most people.  I loved it and I know 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.”

 

 

A Man and His Marriage: A Great Addition to 33 The Series

man and his marriageSpent some time with A Man and His Marriage 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).

Like the other studies in this series, A Man and His Marriage can be used in several ways.  Much like Men’s Fraternity, it can be used as a weekly on-campus large group study with discussion groups.  It can also be used very effectively by men’s small groups that meet in homes, at work, or in a coffee shop.

“There are many important relationships in a man’s life, and none deserve more care, focus, and investment than the relationship with his wife.  A man’s marriage is meant to be and can be an incredible source of energy, joy and intimacy.” [From the cover]

A Man and His Marriage wrestles with 6 important topics:

  1. The Biblical Foundation for Marriage
  2. Die to Live
  3. Friendship in Marriage
  4. Physical Intimacy
  5. Obstacles to Biblical Oneness in Marriage
  6. Game Changers

DVD-driven, A Man and His Marriage 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.  In addition to series regulars Carter, Green and Bryson, this volume includes segments from marriage expert Paul Tripp.  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.

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.

Far more than a study guide, the design of the Training Guide has a very engaging design.  I’ve been impressed with the look and feel of every volume and this one is no exception.  It has a very contemporary feel and will hold attention very well.

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.

If you’re looking for a new study that will reinforce the marriages in your church, you need to take a look at A Man and His Marriage.  I like 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.”

The Making of a Man: A New Men’s Study featuring NFL Great Tim Brown

making of a manSpent some time with a new men’s study this week.  The Making of a Man, featuring NFL All-Pro and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown is a study I think the men in your church will want to know about.

Tim Brown will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer in Canton, Ohio.  While at Notre Dame, Brown was the first wide receiver to receive the Heisman Trophy.  He went on to play 16 years in the NFL, was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times and set many records that still stand at both wide receiver and kickoff/punt returner.

Based on Brown’s book by the same title, The Making of a Man study wrestles with 6 topics that will engage and challenge men:

  • A Man Uses His Talents
  • A Man Overcomes Temptation
  • A Man Takes Responsbility
  • A Man Forgives Others
  • A Man Has His Priorities in Order
  • A Man Builds a Godly Character

DVD-driven, The Making of a Man is a 6 session study featuring Tim Brown.  Each session is a blend of biblical stories and personal stories of struggling with God, overcoming temptations, and discovering what it takes to be a good husband and father.  Averaging 13 to 14 minutes, these sessions will easily hold the attention of group members.

The study guide is well-written and easy to use.  Every session starts out with a simple ice-breaker question that will prime the pump for men, quickly followed by a video outline that makes it easy for men to follow along and take notes if they’d like.  Brown’s main points and several of his key takeaway lines are summarized for easy recollection.  The discussion questions are well thought out and will be easy for men to in a meaningful discussion with great application.

Each session in the study guide concludes with a between sessions personal study that includes further Bible exploration as well as recommended reading from The Making of a Man book.

This is a study that will grab the attention of men in your congregation (and some of their friends).  Tim Brown’s name is well known among football fans and his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer will be an easy reminder.  The Making of a Man is a study you ought to take a look at.  I liked it and I think your men 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. In addition, I am a 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.”

Easily Create Bible Studies for Your Small Groups with SmallGroup.com

smallgroup_byps300x250Looking for an in-house way to easily create Bible studies for your small groups?  Have the topic and theme but no one to write the study?  Have the ability to write the study yourself but really need to spend your time on more strategic things?

You need to take a look at a new service from LifeWay that will be filling in this gap for lots of churches.  SmallGroup.com makes it easy to put together custom studies that are biblically based.  It’s easy to get started by choosing a topic and selecting from over 1200 studies on over 400 topics from all 66 books of the Bible.  If you’re looking for a topic that you don’t see, you can request it and LifeWay’s writers will write the study at no extra charge.

The easy-to-use system also allows you to customize the end product so that it includes your unique language and look, integrating logos and color schemes to give a custom feel.

SmallGroup.com allows you to create multi-session studies to fully cover a theme or topic.  You can also easily create stand-alone studies for special situations or events.

Once assembled, your study will be ready to use.  You can download it, print it, or email a copy to your leaders.  Or you can save it for later.

The pricing for the service is set at a sliding scale based on the number of people in small groups at your church and I feel like the price point is very reasonable.  I’m always looking for ways to keep my attention focused on the things that only I can do.  SmallGroup.com enables you to provide biblically based studies covering the topics you need at a reasonable price.

I took advantage of a free two week trial and easily assembled a great study.  The site is easy to navigate and a downloadable quickstart guide was almost unnecessary.  I picked a topic, chose from an selection of studies, and the system generated a study that lined up very well with what I was looking for.  Within 20 minutes I had even customized the cover to include our church logo and color scheme.

I have to say, this is a pretty exciting innovation.  It’s the next best thing to have a gifted writer-in-residence…at a fraction of the cost.  And it will allow you to stay focused on building a thriving small group ministry.  My advice?  Take advantage of the free two week trial and see for yourself.

Disclosure of Material Connection: LifeWay is a frequent advertiser. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or 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.”

Fight Back with Joy: A Powerful New Study from Margaret Feinberg

fight back with joyI had the opportunity to preview a new study from Margaret Feinberg this week.  Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More, Regret Less, Stare Down Your Greatest Fears is a new 6 session study and it is one you are going to want to add to your recommended list.

Margaret Feinberg was recently named one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today, one of the 30 Voices who will help lead the church in the next decade by Charisma magazine and one of the ’40 Under 40’ who will shape Christian publishing by Christian Retailing magazine.

In Fight Back with Joy Feinberg asks the question, “What if joy is better than you imagined?”  She points out that although “this virtue has been stamped on coffee mugs, sewn on decorative pillows–even displayed on dish soap…joy is more than whimsey; it’s the weaponry you can use to fight life’s greatest battles.”

DVD-driven, the session videos feature the captivating teaching of Margaret Feinberg.  At an average length of 23 to 25 minutes, there are some speakers that would lose their audience.  That doesn’t happen here.  Truly a creative writer, Feinberg’s language is as imagination-provoking as humanly possible.  Your group members will stay engaged as she explores these important biblical truths.

The Bible study book is a very creative experience as well.  Far more than a set of discussion questions, each session includes a variety of experiences that will help unpack a number of profound ideas and life-changing truths.  Every group session begins with an experiential activity “designed to be a trigger for group engagement and help move people toward the ideas explored in the teaching.”

Included in the Bible study book is a set of daily studies to be done in preparation for the upcoming session (except for the first session).  A manageable length, most participants will find them to be a satisfying experience and just the right length to pull them along in the journey without overwhelming.

The Bible study book also includes a simple video notes section with many of the main statements and quotes, allowing members to capture other ideas that grab their attention.  The study book concludes with a “joy bomb journal” designed to be a place to capture those amazing daily moments when God explodes on the scene with a sunset or a warm hug or an unexpected note from a friend.

While reading the book Fight Back with Joy is not required, it will help some participants get the most out of the experience.  Margaret points out that “this is especially true for those facing a crisis of their own, whether a diagnosis similar to Margaret’s or something completely different.”

Fight Back with Joy is a powerful study that will be life-changing for many.  I’m adding this study to my recommended list 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.

Freefall to Fly: A Powerful New Women’s Study from Rebekah Lyons

freefall to flyFinally had the opportunity to preview a new study from Rebekah Lyons.  Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning is a six session study based on Lyon’s 2013 book by the same title.  If you’re unfamiliar with Rebekah Lyons, she serves alongside her husband, Gabe, as cofounder of QIdeas, an organization that helps leaders winsomely engage culture.

In her bio Rebekah Lyons is described as “an old soul with a contemporary, honest voice who puts a new face on the struggles women face in living a life of meaning. Through emotive writing and speaking, Rebekah reveals her own battles to overcome anxiety, depression, and consumer impulses-challenging women to discover and boldly pursue the calling God has for them. Rebekah wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike.”  After spending some time with Freefall to Fly, I can tell you her bio is an accurate reflection!

Freefall to Fly is a powerful study that will resonate with many, even while it may intimidate a few.  With excerpts from Lyons’ book, participants will have a 15 to 20 page reading assignment each week in preparation for their meeting.  Interspersed in the reading is a set of questions that are designed to help prompt personal reflection.

This is a well-written and deeply engaging study.  I really like the way Lyons weaves scripture into her writing.  Some participants will be tempted to skim chapters, but they would be wise to slow down, wrestle with the ideas here, and savor the rich experience.

Although not DVD-driven, there is a set of short introductory videos are available free of charge at Lifeway.com/freefall.  A very complete leader’s guide is included in the member’s book, making this a study that can be done with a newer or less experienced leader.

I like this study!  Freefall to Fly will not be for every group, but for those groups ready for a study that will take them deep into the mystery of how God can turn our greatest struggles into our greatest strength…Freefall to Fly makes my 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.

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