Let me start by saying, “Wow!” Although I loved Life’s Toughest Questions (a previous Lifeway title featuring Erwin McManus), this one is even better. CRAVE: An Exploration of the Human Spirit really delivers a great example of story-driven visual media, an important grouplife trend.
There are a number of elements to really like about CRAVE. First of all, this is a study that will take your small group on an important expedition; an expedition into the depths of their own souls. As pointed out in the opening session, “every human being has a craving for intimacy, to find a love that is unconditional.” In addition, “every one of us has a craving for destiny, a longing to become.” At the same time “we all have a craving for meaning; we’re all striving to make sense of our life and are searching for someone that can be trusted.”
Second, each session is anchored by a teaching vignette featuring Erwin McManus, the engagingly charismatic Lead Pastor of Mosaic; exploring these soul cravings (intimacy, destiny and meaning), pointing out that they are “the fingerprint of God on our soul. And what we are experiencing is our soul longing for God. If we’ll just look into our souls we just might find the proof of God we’ve been looking for all along.”
Third, along with the teaching vignettes, CRAVE features three original short films that “take advantage of some of the youngest and brightest directors and writers in the film industry…uniquely created to drive the CRAVE small-group discussion (from the study guide).” All three films will provoke a great conversation. The closing scene in Midnight Clear will probably take a long time to forget.
Fourth, the teaching vignettes in combination with the short films will prompt some very good discussions. The questions and exercises included in member book will help keep the conversation on track. Along with the in-session guide, there is also a personal time section for each session designed to help participants continue to process their new understandings. Although there is not much to the Leader’s Guide, this isn’t the kind of study that requires a jump-start. If anything, leaders will require some sensitivity to keep the conversation on track.
Finally, some groups may want to read McManus’ Soul Cravings (2006) as a companion. Although CRAVE is a great stand-alone study, reading along will only enhance the experience.
CRAVE is a grouplife study you’re going to want on your recommended list. It’s a great entry into the story-driven visual media category and covers an important topic in a way that will get groups talking. I highly recommend it. Prefer to buy from Lifeway? You can do that right here.