If you’ve been following the conversation here for any length of time, you know that I review new small group ministry curriculum and books on a regular basis. You might’ve never made this connection, but most of the resources I review are sent to me by the major publishers, most of whom are regular sponsors of MarkHowellLive.com.
Far less frequently, perhaps once or twice a year, I’m sent a self-published resource with a request that I review it. Frameworks: How to Navigate the New Testament came to me like that. An email from a publicist asked if I’d take a look at “a unique self-published New Testament survey intended mainly for church study groups .” It sounded interesting. It showed up in my mailbox. I looked it over. And here we are.
In addition to being a high quality publication, I have to say, this is a very interesting concept! A labor of love by author Eric Larson, Frameworks was developed to provide a resource that helps today’s Bible students with “two real challenges many people face when they open their Bibles: navigation and context.” Navigation, “the ability to weave your way among the Bible’s 66 books…without getting lost” and context, “helping you see the big picture” and discover how the books fit together.
As I looked over Frameworks and thought about my own journey as a small group leader in a wide variety of churches over the years, I remembered many times when the members of my groups could have used a resource like this one. In fact, a common theme in my consulting work with churches has been the recognition that congregation members don’t know much about the Bible or even how the stories and events fit together. Remembering these things, I can see how a resource like Frameworks could provide just the right thing.
Two Parts to the Survey
Well organized, there are two parts to the survey. Part 1 provides a number of handholds that bring organization to the New Testament (i.e., Where Jesus Walked, The New Testament World, The Origin of the New Testament, etc.). Maps, charts, and other illustrations bring clarity to the overview.
Part 2 provides a thoughtfully detailed study of the books of the New Testament. An intro to every book provides a look ahead. A theme is developed. You’ll find a brief outline of the book, key verses that highlight the theme, a look at how to navigate the book, unique elements, and insights that can be applied today. You’ll also find a very simple set of questions for self-study or group discussion.
I like Frameworks. I can definitely see a place for it in many churches. At $27 a copy it is a financial investment, but given that it provides over 27 studies, it should be evaluated on the basis of 6 to 12 months of content. Alternatively, I imagine some churches will purchase multiple copies and make them available for classes and studies. How does it fit your ministry? I’m not sure, but I like it and I think you will too.