Well I’ve spent the last two weeks updating the Small Group Advisor website….fixing broken links, updating pictures, getting the prices up-to-date, etc. In addition, I’ve been going through newly released studies from 2019 and 2020 to see if any would make the Top 100 Best Bible Studies cut.
After watching literally 35 studies and looking through matching study guides and Amazon reviews, I’ve found a couple studies that we feel meet our requirements. That means a couple of others from Andy Stanley’s pre-2010 collection got the boot from the Top 100. That isn’t because the studies aren’t good, but in some cases, the newer content just seemed more relevant to the times we are currently facing.
Please let us know what you think of these two new 2020 small group bible studies by leaving reviews on our website after you’ve completed the study. The Get Out of Your Head Jennie Allen study won’t be fully available until April, but you can already pre-order it and the Get Your Life Back study with John Eldredge is already available. Enjoy!
My women’s group decided earlier this fall that we are going to study each one of the Books in the New Testament. And the first two studies we chose were part of the new Books of the Bible series that Right Now Media is producing. These two studies are some of the best I’ve ever done and all of the participant’s have experienced significant personal and spiritual growth BECAUSE of these studies.
These Book of the Bible series videos are shot on location in Israel, Greece, and areas that relate to the topics being covered. It gave us a chance to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to walk along with Paul on his journey. But the thing we loved most about this series is that the study guides include 5 daily devotionals each week with probing questions that really make you think about how to apply the principles in practical ways to your own day-to-day life. The bad thing about the study guides is that the print is too tiny so for us 50 year olds. It can be difficult to read. In addition, they are physically big so they are not very transportable on vacation or alternate locations.
First up, The Gospel of Mark with Francis Chan. We feel like Francis is a modern day prophet like Jeremiah of the old testament. He made us feel inspired and convicted with his style of delivery that pulls no punches. At the end of the study, you’ll be asked whether you are really ready to follow Jesus? Get more information about this Gospel of Mark study here.
Then we did The Book of 1st Corinthians with Jennie Allen. I had never done a Jennie Allen study before, but we loved following along with her in Greece. She felt genuine so it was easy for all of us women to connect with her and she delivered biblically-based teaching with passion. I walked away from this study feeling like a had a good grasp of the message and of the topics that God and Paul were trying to convey in this book. This study guide also included small group discussion questions to go with the videos so we liked the format a bit better than the one for Mark, but it still had print that was too small. But in any case, I’d highly recommend both of these studies and look forward to seeing what book will be released next. For more details about this study, visit BooksoftheBible.org
Finally, finally…finally! Bible study publishers like Right Now Median and Zondervan have started coming out with studies that focus not only on a given topic, but instead on a specific Book of the Bible. This year they have released some great new studies that we think would be perfect for small group settings.
Of course, adding these new studies means that we had to get rid a few of the old ones that were featured in our Top 100 Best Small Group Studies so I spent quite a bit of time going through watching videos and looking at the discussion guides to select the best of the best. In the end, I replaced some existing studies with newer, more up-to-date versions of the same Bible Book.
Today I have a conflicted heart as I announce that our couple’s group is concluding our time together. We have been meeting together for over 3 years and it has become clear that while we have thoroughly enjoyed our time together (and created lifelong friendships), our group has run its course.
Couples had come and gone over the years, but in the past few months, we’ve had several couples move out of state, others dealing with issues that have left little time for them to participate in group meetings, and general life changes/shifted priorities.
When God closes a door like this, I always feel like he opens us up to other opportunities so I’m looking forward to what heads our way next. We are now going to look for a woman’s bible study and a men’s bible study where we can get some fellowship time with others of our own gender.
So with mixed emotions of both sadness and excitement, I bid our couple’s group farewell for now….
I just wrapped up an amazing summer spent with 20 incredible women! This is what happens when God is in the mix. My friend Allison decided to start a small group for women and put out the word that she’d be hosting a study on Tuesday mornings at her house. We thought she’d get a small group of women that wanted fellowship and discipleship, but nearly twenty women showed up that first day. We ended up watching the videos together and then splitting into two smaller groups for the discussion questions. It worked out perfectly.
Best of all, Allison chose a study that we all loved called Play With Fire with Bianca Juárez Olthoff. Bianca is a down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is woman that conveyed her messages in a relatable way. She gave us a unique and interesting perspective on the Holy Spirit. The discussion questions were probing and led to great interactions within the groups. I’d highly recommend this one!
Every Spring we like to do a church-wide campaign where all of the small groups at our local church do the same study together. We have found that by offering these campaigns, we can promote the small group concept and usually end up adding at least a handful of new small groups to the mix.
This year we have decided to focus on prayer and found the 40 Day Prayer Challenge from Mark Batterson. The 40 day time frame aligns perfectly with the Lenten Season and the marketing materials for this campaign are included with the curriculum kit.
Our group will be joining in the fun and kicking off the series in our group on 3/10/19. The goal will be to take a moment each day to focus on God. We loved Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson and this is simply a way to apply the principles covered in that series.
Do you pray as often and as boldly as you
want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate,
persistent, and intimate prayer life.
Drawing from forty days of true stories, Mark Batterson applies the principles of his New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker
to teach us a new way to pray. As thousands of readers quickly became
many tens of thousands, true stories of miraculous and inspiring answers
to prayer began to pour in, and as those stories were shared, others
were bolstered in their faith to pray with even more boldness.
In Draw the Circle, through forty true, faith-building stories of God’s answers to prayer, daily scriptures and prayer prompts, Batterson inspires you to pray and keep praying like never before. Begin a lifetime of watching God work. Believe in the God who can do all things. Experience the power of bold prayer and even bolder faith in Draw the Circle.
These days our country seems more politically divided than ever and grace appears to be in short supply so we thought it would be the perfect time to do a study about extending grace and mercy to others this fall with our couple’s group.
It is always so difficult to choose a study because there are so many to choose from even when the topic is narrowed down. We’ve heard good things about Philip Yancey and I loved his book called Disappointment with God No One Asks Aloud so we decided to give this one a try.
After previewing the videos, I’m slightly concerned about the delivery of the messages as he seems to be a bit boring at times, but the overall theme seems to be exactly what we are looking for:
Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel. He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics. Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith.
We are starting this one at the end of September so that we can be wrapped up by Thanksgiving so we’ll let you know how it goes!
For our 2018 Spring Campaign, our church will be doing the Unshakable: How To Thrive No Matter What Hits You study from Pastor Rick Warren.
During the 8 week series, our local pastor will do sermons on topics that align with the theme of the series and then during the week, all of the small groups will meet to watch the Rick Warren sessions and to discuss the questions presented in the study guide.
We are super excited for this series that will examine the life of Daniel so that we can learn valuable and practical lessons to help us stand firm in our faith. Here is a short preview video from Pastor Rick so that you can see what I mean:
If you are interested in this series, you can buy it online at the pastors.com store here.
As we head south for the winter, our small group is getting ready for Andy Stanley’s 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith. We’ll be doing Ninety each week live with Andy Stanley and Clay Scroggins. We hope the new series is a good one for the two of us and our southern friends…
It’s the start of a new year. But believe it or not, we’ll be celebrating Easter in just 90 days. Between now and then, join us on a journey through the life of Jesus.
In the meantime, we are so happy that the couples in our group stepped up to host in their homes, facilitate discussions and rotate bringing dessert. We will miss seeing everyone, but are hoping to stay in touch via Facebook. I’ve personally already watched the 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith series several times so I know it will be a good one for all of the participants. Here is what they can expect:
Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith by Andy Stanley is an exciting small group bible study that establishes the biblical case for five things God uses to grow an unshakable faith in you.
Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good.
In other words, imagine what it would be like to have PERFECT faith. In this new small group bible study, Andy Stanley builds a biblical case for five things God uses to grow BIG faith.
What would it be like to have perfect faith? Find out in Andy Stanley's dynamic group study! The six sessions will spark discussion about approaching each day with unshakable confidence; belief in God's control; and trust in his purposes. Discover how God uses practical teaching, providential relationships, private disciplines, personal ministry, and pivotal circumstances to grow your faith.
I am so bummed that we were out of town this past weekend, but four of the couples in our small group worked at the Big Lake Food Shelf on Saturday morning. They checked in clients, packed groceries, and helped any way they could. Hope we can do more of this in the future!
Afterward, they had a Christmas luncheon which I hear was delicious. Looking forward to next year!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.