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Review: Discussing Mere Christianity

discussing mere christianitySpent some time this week with a new resource from Zondervan. Discussing Mere Christianity is an 8 session study of C.S. Lewis’s greatest book. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is one of the most read and beloved Christian books of all time. But seventy years later from when it was first delivered on radio, what relevance does it have to our world today? Host Eric Metaxas and a variety of Christian leaders help us understand the timeless message of C.S. Lewis in fresh ways for a new generation.

Hosted by Eric Metaxas, this is far more than a literary exploration and will generate something far beyond a discussion. Metaxas is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller and ECPA “Book of the Year,” Bonhoeffer, the bestseller Amazing Grace and more than thirty other books. He lends the perfect tone for the study.

The 8 topics covered in the study include:

  • Our Sense of Right and Wrong
  • What’s Behind Our Sense of Right and Wrong
  • The Rival Conception of God
  • Free Will and the Shocking Alternatives
  • Christian Behavior and the Great Sin of Pride
  • The Christian Virtue of Hope
  • God in Three Persons
  • Counting the Cost

DVD-driven, the 8 sessions range in length from 19 to 25 minutes and “features teaching from a variety of well-known Lewis scholars and readers, well as comments from two people who met Lewis when he was alive: Walter Hooper, who was Lewis’s secretary and then became the literary executor of the C.S. Lewis estate, and Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson.” Each session is a combination of insightful commentary on the topic and historical footage from the era.

The study guide is not meant to replace reading Mere Christianity, but rather to provide a better understanding of Lewis’s classic work. Each of the 8 sessions includes a reading assignment as well as commentary and group discussion questions that will assist you in your study of the book. A section for personal study is included at the end of each session.

While Discussing Mere Christianity will not be a study that appeals to every group, there will be groups for which it is an excellent addition to your recommended list. Mere Christianity is often mentioned as a must read or a book that has profoundly impacted the lives of many. Discussing Mere Christianity provides a helpful guide to a classic book by C.S. Lewis, considered by many the most important writer of the 20th century.

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

Hebrews: Don’t Miss This Timely Bible Book Study

hebrews etbSpent some time this week with a new study from LifeWay’s Explore the Bible series. Hebrews is a 13 week study, divided into two study guides: Chapters 1-7 “introduces the Book of Hebrews and gives encouragement and hope to believers.” Chapters 8-13 “helps believers understand how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of a New Covenant.”

The Explore the Bible series provides “deep, book-by-book study. Each study focuses on one book of the Bible (or section of a book) and features questions designed to encourage group discussion. These studies encourage transformational encounters with Scripture that help participants know the Word in a personal and meaningful way. And because the Word equips us “for every good work,” as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3, these studies help adults understand how to live it out in their own life context (from the website).”

Why study the book of Hebrews? (from the website):

  • It was written to a persecuted people.
  • It was written for a church struggling to remain passionate about the gospel.
  • It elevates the superiority of Christ.
  • It reminds struggling believers that they have an advocate and brother in Jesus.
  • It urges believers to endure in the faith until Christ returns because He is returning.

A good leader’s guide is included in the member book. Each session features a creative activity designed to generate good discussion, along with questions that will help your members understand the context, explore the text and obey the text.

The Hebrews study is being featured as a special emphasis this fall by LifeWay. The emphasis includes free additional resources that will enable your church to use Hebrews as a church-wide study.  You can find out more about the emphasis right here.

I like the Hebrews study because the issues of the 1st Century world correspond so directly with those of the 21st Century. If you’re looking for a study that will help your members find hope in the middle of the 21st Century, be sure and take a look at Hebrews.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I 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.”

Keep It Shut: A New DVD-Driven Study from Karen Ehman

keep it shutSpent some time this week with a new six session study from Karen Ehman and Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Keep It Shut: What to Say, When to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All “challenges women to dig deep into what the Bible says about the ways we use our words–both in person and online–and when we should should just keep our lips zipped.”

DVD-driven, each session features Karen Ehman’s teaching, as well as a short vignette with Melissa Taylor (Proverbs 31 Ministries Director of Online Bible Studies).  Ehman is a storyteller and the sessions are engaging.  At an average length of 18 to 23 minutes, they will hold the attention of Bible study members.  The video sessions were filmed in front of a small group of women, providing the feeling of interaction that energizes a gifted communicator.

The study guide includes a video viewing guide (to help highlight a few key points in the teaching and take notes).  Each session also includes a well-written set of discussion questions to be discussed as a group and also in smaller group clusters.  A between sessions study is also included to help maximize the impact.  The between sessions study includes a suggested reading plan to guide participants through the book by the same title that accompanies the study.

Keep It Shut is a study that will be an easy addition to your recommended list.  Karen Ehman’s teaching style helps make a challenging topic easy to swallow and will provoke many great conversations.

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.”

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.”

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