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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.”

Don’t Miss This New Study from Verge: Disciple Making: No Plan B

disciplemakingHad an opportunity this week to spend some time with a new resource from Verge Network.  Disciple Making: No Plan B  is an 8 session study designed to be used by a missional community.  A challenging study, it provides just the right combination of push and pull to move groups out of comfort zones and into life-altering engagement.

I love this line from the included leader’s guide:

“This study guide is a tool to help you and your community live on mission in your city or neighborhood.”

I would call Disciple Making a DVD-enhanced study.  Each session features a short 10 to 15 minute clip from a session at a 2012 Verge Network conference.  The speakers are well known inside the missional movement and include Alan Hirsch, Jo Saxton, Neil Cole, Jeff Vanderstelt, Mike Breen and Kevin Peck.

The member book sets a course for a fairly engaging experience.  A varied experience, each session includes a number of elements.  Short readings to establish an idea and provoke dialogue, thoroughly biblical with extensive scripture, and very practical with its urge to apply the learnings…there is plenty here to fully engage participants.

A very good leader’s guide is included in the member book, making it possible for members to rotate the facilitator role.

If you’re looking for a study that will help group members take steps in discipleship, Disciple Making has a lot going for it.  Far beyond learning about discipleship, this is a study designed to compel movement.  I like where Disciple Making goes 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.”

All Pro Dad: 7 Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids

all pro dadHad an opportunity to preview a new study from LifeWay this week. Mark Merrill’s All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids (featuring Tony Dungy) is an 8 session study for men.  Based on Merrill’s 2012 book by the same title, there are some very appealing aspects to this study.

First, the study is anchored by an 8 session DVD that includes teaching by Mark Merrill and an interview format with Tony Dungy, former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts.  As the NFL’s first African-American coach to win the Superbowl and owner of the NFL record for consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach, Dungy is a well known sports personality and will be a draw for many men.

The DVD segments are just the right length for men, averaging 6 to 7 minutes.  Fairly engaging, I think men will find themselves pulled in as Merrill and Dungy talk about the seven essentials of being a hero to their kids.

The member book provides both a discussion guide for the session (group training) and a set of short, engaging assignments to be experienced during the following week (home training).  As much as I think the DVD is well designed for the attention spans of many men, I think the member book is even better.  The group training discussion questions are well written and will take even a new group in a great direction.  The home training activities are really well thought out and will produce some great interaction at home.

The Leader Kit comes with a CD-ROM that includes a leader’s guide and parenting tools for dads, along with publicity tools for churches that would like to use All Pro Dad as a campaign.

If you’re looking for an engaging study for men, I think you need to take a look at All Pro Dad.  Right up the alley for many men, this study will be an appealing opportunity that will get some great conversations going.

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.”

Here’s a Sample Recommended Study List

An important resource for your small group leaders is a recommended or approved study list.  Having a recommended list will help in several ways:

  • Gives leaders an easy way to find their next study
  • Makes recommending a next study easy
  • Encourages your groups to use studies that are consistent with your theology
  • Emphasizes important concepts and practices

A sample recommended study list could be as simple as this:

Getting Started

Topical Studies

Bible Book Studies

Men’s Studies

Women’s Studies

 

Top 10 Small Group Curriculum Reviews of 2013

Looking for great studies to add to your approved list?  Here are the top 10 curriculum reviews from 2013:

  1. New from David Morlan and D.A. Carson: The Gospel of Luke: From the Outside In
  2. New from Andy Stanley: Christian: It’s Not What You Think
  3. Add “Pressure Points” to Your Church-Wide Campaign Short List
  4. New from Priscilla Shirer: Gideon: Your Weakness, God’s Strength
  5. New from Rick Warren and Saddleback: What On Earth Am I Here For?
  6. New from People of the Second Chance: Freeway: A Not So Perfect Guide to Freedom
  7. New from J.D. Greear: The Gospel According to Jonah
  8. New from Jen Hatmaker: The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess
  9. Follow Me: A Powerful New DVD-Driven Study and Church-Wide Campaign
  10. Real Win: A New DVD-Driven Study featuring Colt McCoy and Matt Carter

Don’t Miss This New Resource: Forge Guides for Missional Conversation

forge guide missionHad time this week to work my way through a new series from Intervarsity Press.  Created in partnership with Forge (an organization that cultivates missional community across the United States by identifying, developing, and nurturing missional leaders), this is pretty interesting stuff!

The Forge Guides for Missional Conversation is a 5 book series and while each of the guides is valuable on its own, “together they are sort of curriculum for a movement.”  Individually, the guides “were written to help you think about what it might look like if you, your group or your church were to develop a missionary imagination for everyday living.”

The five titles in the series are:

Each of the guides is embedded with four practices that together deliver quite a punch.  I think it’s fair to say, they weren’t assembled carelessly.  Designed to help groups thoughtfully consider next steps that will stretch, the four practices are:

  • Dwelling in the Word: a time to hear from Scripture through communal reading and listening.
  • Contextual Analysis: designed to help inculturate and translate the gospel into local contexts.
  • Theological Reflection: designed to help your group seek to know God truly and become wise in knowing God.
  • Missionary Imagination: intended to help each individual in the group gain a better sense of their missionary calling.

A before we meet again section is included to provide some direction for between meetings.  A combination of scripture to reflect on and activities to guide into an experience, this section will not overwhelm but will help reinforce the takeaways of the group time.

A very simple leader’s guide is included in all five guides.  Although not elaborate, there is good direction provided.

If you’re looking for a resource that will help your group take the next steps in the missional conversation, the Forge Guides might be just the ticket.

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 Men’s Study: Manhood Restored

manhood restoredTook the opportunity to preview a new men’s study from LifeWay this week.  Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole  featuring Eric Mason, the founding and lead pastor of Philadelphia’s Epiphany Fellowship, a “multi-ethnic inner city church dedicated to seeing Jesus Christ’s gospel hit up every area of our lives.”  I recently heard Pastor Mason speak at the RightNow Conference and knew I had to take a look at this study.

A six-session DVD-driven study, Manhood Restored is probably best used as a third or fourth step in the journey.  This is a challenging topic, but Mason is just right in his presentation.  The length is right, coming in at 13 to 20 minutes.  An imposing figure, he captures and holds your attention right out of the gate.  In addition, every segment includes a very compelling testimony from Epiphany members (I think you’ll love the variety and conviction of these men!).

Manhood Restored grapples with some fairly tough topics for men.  Covering man’s problem, God’s solution,  worldview, sexuality, vision and family…Eric Mason exudes confidence and competence.  He delivers a needed message in a challenging manner that can be heard by men who are ready for challenge.

The study guide is fairly robust.  Every session includes

  • a video discussion guide, designed to help the participant follow along and take notes
  • a rich Bible study section provides a “show up” guide that will take members deep into the concept.
  • a wrap up summary emphasizing the main points for takeaway
  • a well-written one-on-one guide for accountability between group members
  • four personal devotional studies every week

The study guide also includes a very basic leader’s guide that isn’t overwhelming, but provides enough for the newest leaders.

I like Manhood Restored.  If you’re looking for a study that will help spiritual walkers become runners, you need to take a good look at this one.  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. In addition, LifeWay is a regular advertiser on my blog. 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 Beth Moore: Sacred Secrets

sacred secrets squareI’ve been waiting and I bet you’ve been waiting too.  Maybe even impatiently waiting…for the newest Beth Moore study.  Well, wait no more!  It’s out and it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Sacred Secrets is a 5 (or 6) session study and it’s a little different than you might be used to experiencing.  With video captured from a Living Proof Live event in Greensboro, North Carolina, this has some of the feel of being at a Friday night, Saturday morning conference.  In fact, it could be used for a weekend retreat, although the study journal is primarily designed to be used over the 5 week period.

Sacred Secrets finds its theme verse in Psalm 51:6: “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”  The topic is very compelling and will be a powerful experience for many.  The opening session cracks open the doorway to an intriguing and quite powerful idea; that although “the world is obsessed with telling secrets for the sake of sensationalism, not all hidden things are poisonous and dark. Some secrets are forgiven, some are covered, and some are kept between you and God (from the jacket).”

The Sacred Secrets Study Journal includes a viewer guide (designed to help guide the participant through each of video sessions) as well as a journal section to independently work through the teaching through the week.  Each journal section includes word studies, stimulating questions and scripture passages to take participants deeper into the topic.

I loved Beth’s closing paragraph in the introduction to the study journal:

“My prayer is that you will go beyond what can be accomplished at an event and walk forward into a relationship with Christ that is exceedingly more intimate and rewarding.  May God invite you to embrace a while new journey, with Him in the secret places where He longs for you to find him.”

I can confidently tell you this: however you make this study available, whether at a weekend retreat or a short-term Bible study, there is a powerful impact that is built-in.  In fact, I’ll go a little further.  This is life-changing stuff and will no doubt alter some trajectories.  Personally…I can’t wait to see what it does!

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. In addition, LifeWay is a regular sponsor of 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.”
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