Don’t Miss Rescue Academy (a New Resource from SecondChance.org)

rescue academySpent some time this week with a new resource from People of the Second Chance.  Whether it finds a place in your resource library or you use it to train small group leaders or coaches, it really looks like something you may want to take a look at.

Resource Academy is “a 7-part video and workbook training that will help your team say the right things at the right time as they counsel others through real-life problems. Many leaders face difficult counseling situations that they have never been trained for. This course teaches principles, strategies and key insights to handle almost any situation and equip staff, group leaders and volunteers to be equipped in helping hurting people (from the website).”

Video-driven, the video sessions are 17 to 22 minutes in length and feature author and speaker, Mike Foster. Mike is the founder of People of the Second Chance and the creator of Rescue Academy. An unassuming and engaging speaker, Mike’s style is very conversational and easy to listen to.

Each of the workbook sessions include a set of sections and activities. A creative introduction, a video viewing guide, and a helpful set of discussion questions is standard for each session. In addition, each session also includes a “real life rescue” example (that calls for thinking about how we should respond) and a creative element (or two) that will help participants absorb the principles and practices.

This paragraph from the website provides a helpful insight into the why behind the resource:

Most leaders are overwhelmed with trying to accommodate all the coaching/counseling needs within their church or organization. Rescue Academy solves this problem by training your people to handle almost every life-counseling situation and create healthy next steps. Rescue Academy makes it simple, safe and removes the hassle of having to do all the work.

Sound familiar? Sound like something that might be a helpful resource? I thought so!

I like Resource Academy 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 Powerful Study: Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets

starting-overFinally had an opportunity to take a look at a powerful new book (and study) from Dave and Jon Ferguson. Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets is the newest project from the authors of Finding Your Way Back to God.

Starting Over was developed as a result of many conversations the Ferguson’s had with people who had read Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life. The authors made a curious discovery. You may remember that the second awakening was awakening to regret. Their discovery? “Many of the people we talked to experienced the Awakening to Regret but then got stuck there.” Starting Over was developed to help people “come face to face with your regrets and learn to start over.”

Like Finding Your Way Back to God, this book is very engaging. In my opinion, Finding Your Way Back was one of the most readable books I had ever come across with an evangelistic theme. And Starting Over? It has the same quality! Packs with personal stories and skillfully told stories from the Bible, this is the kind of book that will be given to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Easy to read and so encouraging.

A 5 session study is well-written and very easy to use. Although some participants will be anxious about joining a discussion on this topic, most will be quickly made at ease by the tone set in the opening questions. Each session of the study includes an opening icebreaker and questions that will consistently welcome everyone to the conversation. The Bible study portion of the study does a very good job of exploring a series of stories, Psalms, and passages on regret. A life application section will help participants make the story personal.

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

A short video also accompanies each session of the study guide. Available for viewing online at StartingOverBook.org, each of the video sessions includes a short teaching by Dave or Jon Ferguson and very compelling personal story about regret.

I have to tell you, I believe Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets may have even greater potential than Finding Your Back to God. Why? I think regret is an even more cross-cultural topic. While everyone may not be overwhelmed by feelings of regret, everyone can personally relate. If you’re looking for a compelling study that will appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike, take a look at Starting Over. I love this study and I think you will too!

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

New from LifeWay: Disciples Path is a Series You Need to See

disciples-path-beginningI spent some time with a new resource from LifeWay that I think you’re going to want to know about. Disciples Path is a 6 study journey (a one-year intentional plan for discipleship, specifically designed to make disciples who make disciples).

“Created by disciple-makers for disciple-makers, fourteen disciple-making church leaders were brought together to think through how to instill biblical understandings, principles, and practices of discipleship with the end goal of making disciples who make disciples (from the introduction).”

Four discipleship distinctives are incorporated into the finished product. The Disciples Path is progressive (it takes you somewhere); it is relational (it is a journey taken alongside a disciple-maker); it is disciplined (what happens between meetings is more important than what happens in them); and it is replicable (the person who has been discipled then uses the series to disciple another).

Truly designed as a journey, “each session of the journey offers a mix of group discussion, personal study, and practical application.” Each session begins with group discussion, engaging the Bible through both story and teaching. An individual discovery section includes content for individual use during the time between group gatherings (incorporating worship, personal study and application.

I like the design of the group discussion material. A combination of reading and questions for discussion, it should produce a good conversation that prepares the individual or group for application. The content assumes very little prior Bible knowledge and is well-written, making it easy to use regardless of background.

The weekly activities are enough to require commitment and discipline, but not so much as to be oppressive. Along with a daily Bible reading plan, additional activities are to be selected from a checklist by the disciple and discipler to “match personal preferences and available time (an interesting idea).”

You can learn more and sign up for a free preview right here.

I like the format and plan and can see it being used in a variety of situations and settings. The writing and design definitely make Disciples Path accessible regardless of spiritual background. While there is challenge built into the content and pace, it isn’t overwhelming. Enough to require commitment. Not so much as to be a deterrent.

If you’re looking for a discipleship toolkit, spend some time with Disciples Path. I found it to be really engaging and well-designed. 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.”

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.”