My review copy of Formation: Building a Reliable Foundation arrived a couple days ago. New from LifeWay, the Small Group Life series was launched recently. Formation is the first release of a four study series (the others to follow over the next few months).
Thumbing through the pages, reading the introduction, even diving into the format and questions of the first session, I noticed a few things that you’ll want to know. Before I get into a list of observations though, let me just say I think you’re going to like the Small Group Life series. This is good stuff!
A Few Distinctives:
- The concept is presented in episodes, scenes, and takes. Kind of like the production of a film or a play. The book is an episode. Sessions within each book are scenes. And within each scene are a couple different takes.
- Small Group Life launches with three core values: flexibility, affordability, and continuity.
- Flexibility: Every episode (book) in the series is designed to be a 12 week experience that can be completed two ways. Each scene (session) can really be separated into two “takes” on the same subject. Kind of a second run at working through the same concept with another scripture passage. Groups that meet twice a month may want to do both takes in the same meeting. Groups that meet weekly can easily use the second ‘take’ as followup the next week.
- Affordability: The pricing of the material is very affordable. In fact, it’s even available on a subscription basis at $16.95 a member for a full year of group material. That’s a great price! If you want to check it out first, you can order Formation right here for just $3.50 and shipping. 12 sessions! That’s very good.
- Continuity: Designed as a three-year journey, Small Group Life will expose your groups to “basic doctrines of the Christian faith, foundational events recorded in Scripture, and traits of Christ.” If you’re looking for a series that can take your members somewhere…this leads to a very good destination.
- A distinctive that I really like (and I bet you will too) is the Serve/Go section near the end of each scene. Connected thematically with the concepts of the scene are ways the group can put into practice the principles and ideas they’ve just learned. Very nice!
- Small(er) Group Life: Each scene has a companion children’s resource that is available as a free downloadable pdf. You can check one out right here. In addition, each scene in the adult study refers to what the kids experienced, includes two family devotional ideas and a possible family activity. That’s huge!
- Leader Notes: The Leader’s Guide is included in each book. The notes are not extensive, but this is a study that is very simply designed, has built-in scripture notes, and takes very little preparation for a leader to pull off. That said, including the Leader’s Guide in the book itself makes it easier to build in the value of rotating facilitation among group members.
- Each session has a video that is referred to in the second take. It can be downloaded or viewed online. They’re short, to the point and intended to help fully expose group members to the concept being studied. You can see a sample at the end of my review.
All in all, this is a great new series! If you’re looking for a curriculum idea for your small group system, this is a very good one and I highly recommend it. Good job LifeWay!