I've spent some time with Centered: Experiencing a Life in Christ, a 9 session study written by Cindy Western and Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. Centered is used by Crossings Community Church as the study material that anchors a 10 session experience.*
"Centered, a ten-week discipleship journey. explores the meaning of a Christ-centered life and provides you with resources you need to strengthen your relationship with Jesus. Each week consists of teaching from a customized Bible-based curriculum, personal time of reflection, and small group discussion. You will explore topics including the cost of discipleship, prayer, stewarding God's resources, serving, and more." (From the introduction).
The Centered study includes an intro and 9 topics:
- Who is God? (Creation, Rebellion, Redemption)
- Following Jesus (Surrender, Follow, Transform)
- A Work in Progress (Presence, Power, Purpose)
- Prayer (Abiding, Knowing, Praying)
- Our Story in His story (Commission, Story, Witness)
- Humble Servant (Love, Love, Love)
- Stewarding His Resources (Provision, Trust, Purpose)
- Spiritual Battles (Enemy, Battle, Victory)
- Worship & The Church (Church, Baptism, Communion)
Each of the 9 topics includes about 15 pages of reading and 3 contemplation and prayer exercises. Similar to Rooted*, the reading is an important part of the experience and the personal reflection built into the Contemplation exercises helps make the biblical concepts personal and relevant.
What I like about Centered:
There are a number of aspects to really like about Centered. First of all, if you're looking for a curriculum driven experience that will help shape participants into a common belief and values position, Centered will be really helpful. Covering the 9 core aspects of following Jesus, this material is presented in a way that will help followers of Jesus, whether they are new to following or mature in their faith.
Another aspect that I personally appreciate is the commitment to core scripture passages. Including this amount of scripture will go a long way in the direction of establishing a common foundation that is scripturally based.
Finally, I love the commitment to well facilitated discussion. The notes in the facilitator's guide are just right. Not too little. Not too much. Healthy facilitators plus good direction will lead to some very good discussion.
One of my concerns about Rooted* was the reading level of the reading included. Centered feels a little less demanding from a reading level perspective, but still comes across as weighty and challenging.
Another of my main concerns about Rooted* was the less-than-familiar way that several of the topics were developed, explained and illustrated (for example, the important section on Strongholds seemed to rely on a familiarity with a more primitive worldview and most of the powerful stories included as illustration are derived from it's African origins.
Centered feels much more familiar in the Western, discipleship context. Still very challenging, but far less of a stretch for a Western worldview.
The Facilitator's Guide includes the Participant Guide content, but it also includes a very helpful discussion guide for each session. This will make it easy for facilitators to keep discussion moving in the right direction.
While Rooted has had a powerful impact in many congregations, I can definitely see the potential of Centered: Experiencing a Life in Christ. You can find out more right here.
*If you're familiar with Rooted, you'll have no trouble imagining the way this material is designed. This should come as no surprise since Western was part of the team that wrote Rooted for Mariners Church.