Walking with God in the Desert, the newest volume in Ray Vander Laan’s long running Faith Lessons series, is also the newest addition to a growing number of Zondervan produced, church-wide experiences. And if you’re familiar with Vander Laan, you know right away this one will provide a different experience than almost anything else available.
Ray Vander Laan, the founder of That the World May Know Ministries is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable experts on the land of the Bible. He is a renowned Bible teacher and historian and provides a fascinating peek into the history, geography, and culture of the sacred scriptures.
Walking with God in the Desert, a 7 session, DVD-driven study, will help your congregation understand in a new way how God uses the desert to “draw us closer and help us experience His grace and provision.” If your congregation is
Anchored by the 7 session DVD, each session features Vander Laan in the desert. I think you’ll find each session very engaging as the video takes you from one significant place or kind of place to another. For example, in session two (It’s Hot Here and There Is No Way Out) he stops in front of a Broom tree (mentioned in the story of Hagar and Ishmael), talks about the truth that “The LORD watches over you, the LORD is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:5),” and poignantly illustrates the fact that what God promises is not an oak tree. It’s just enough…just wide enough to shade the outstretched hand.
Session three finds Vander Laan standing underneath the shade of an Acacia tree where he points out the temperature drop upon walking into it’s shade. He also points out that the Acacia tree is mentioned for its use in the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. Acacias grow along the wadis, close enough for its roots to absorb the rains mentioned in Jeremiah 17. ”But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.”
It’s important to note that each of the 7 video sessions are approximately 30 minutes long. Although attention spans are shrinking, these sessions are very insightful and should keep your group engaged for the entire time.
Along with the DVD, there is a 300+ page participant guide that includes the session guides as well as a daily experience (5 days a week) for each of the 7 weeks of the study. Along with the length of each DVD session, it’s important to note that each session of the participant guide is packed with questions. They’re well written and won’t take a lot of leader preparation. At the same time, the length of the DVD sessions combined with the sheer number of questions will require either choosing to cover only certain material or perhaps stretch it over two weeks.
Along with the session questions, the participant guide also includes a daily experience for 7 weeks, incorporating scripture study and a memorization assignment. These daily experiences are designed to provide a more in-depth look at many of the topics and verses mentioned in the DVD session.
Like the other church-wide experiences in Zondervan’s growing collection, you’ll find downloadable sermon resources to make it easy to implement along with a limited number of additional resources and ideas.
If you’re looking for a church-wide experience that will deepen your congregation, Walking with God in the Desert is one you’ll want to take a look at. While it will be somewhat challenging for some of your newest leaders, it will provide a rich experience for your members. Though it might not be a a just-add-water series…it is a series that expose your congregation to the Holy Land…without leaving home.