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
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!
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!
Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that 2017 is already upon us, but we are excited to start our next small group study called Life on Mission by Dr. Tim Harlow. The six week study won narrowly by popular vote (over Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey which we’ll likely do in the future) so we are super excited to see how God works in our lives as we move forward.
Here is a summary of what we are supposed to be learning….
Life on Mission offers clear Bible teaching and provocative discussion questions designed to empower small groups to share their faith with people right in their own neighborhood. This six-week study looks at topics like how to connect with unbelievers, how serving others can open their hearts to the gospel, and how paying attention to our own spiritual growth can strengthen our witness.
People who really matter to God are right around you, and God has given you the incredible assignment of inviting them to come home. Life on Mission will inspire and equip you to do that.
The LIFE ON MISSION small group study offers clear biblical teaching and provocative discussion questions designed to empower small groups to share their faith with people in their own backyards. This six-week study looks at topics like how to connect with unbelievers, how serving others can open their hearts to the Gospel, and how paying attention to our own spiritual growth can strengthen our witness.
People who really matter to God are all around us, and God has given us the incredible assignment of inviting them to come home. LIFE ON MISSION will inspire us to do just that.
Usually when we finish up one course, we like to do a service project and since it was the holiday season, we thought a visit to our local Senior Center was in order. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Guardian Angels by the Lake where many in our group spent the afternoon sharing Christmas goodies and visiting with the residents. It is always such a pleasure hearing the stories from people who have gathered so much wisdom and experienced so many things in their lives. My husband met an interesting guy named Marvin who shared his stories about WWII including how he was shot in the head and obtained a purple heart. He even went back to his room to get the proof. And Beverly proudly gave my husband a tour of her room at the facility. Love it!
Afterwards our group enjoyed a potluck Christmas dinner which was equally fabulous! Unfortunately, I had a horrible cold and had to miss all the fun, but I am thrilled that everyone had such a good time!
We just finished up our Sacred Marriage study and I would say that it was a mixed bag on whether or not members of the group liked the study. I personally did not love it because I simply was not buying all the stuff that Gary Thomas was selling every week. I think part of that may because my view of marriage is a bit skewed from my childhood. Several of the other couples really related to what Gary was saying and tended to agree much more with the premise that God created marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy. That said, doing the Sacred Marriage workbook exercises did lead to some great discussions with my husband that we probably would not have had otherwise.
If you are a group of couples, I think doing a marriage study is a great idea, I’m just not sure I would choose to do this one. Take a look at the other options as well under the Marriage section here on Small Group Advisor. Some of the studies will offer more practical advice on how to strengthen your marriages than others. No matter what study you choose, I think all marriages will benefit from the discussions that will inevitably arise during the course.
In this six-session small group Bible study, Sacred Marriage, writer and speaker Gary Thomas invites you to see how God can use marriage as a discipline and a motivation to reflect more of the character of Jesus. The DVD features six 10-15 minute live teaching vignettes from Gary Thomas. One participant's guide is also included with the DVD.
We kicked off our Couple’s Small Group by doing the Transformed study from Rick Warren. Our group is made up of 7 couples and it has been fun getting to know each other. This weekend we will be doing the 4th session which is about Emotional Transformation. So far I think the study has been going pretty well and generating a fair amount of discussion during our time together. One issue is that our group meets twice a month and this study is set up as 50 days of transformation with devotionals and readings for every day. Because we don’t meet weekly, the timing is a bit off which isn’t the end of the world, but it is something to consider when choosing future studies for our group.
What I personally love about this study is that Rick encourages participants to set 90 day goals in each of the 7 key areas in their lives. It has been the kick in the butt that I’ve needed to make sure that I work on those goals and am held accountable by other group members. I don’t mind sharing my personal 90 day goals so here is what I’m doing:
Session 1 – Spiritual Health: My 90 day goal is to memorize a new bible verse every week. I actually found a pretty good app called Scripture Typer that I’m using for this goal. I will admit that I’ve put all the verses in the app, but I am slightly behind on the actual memorization part.
Session 2 – Physical Health: I already eat pretty healthy and exercise, but I get stressed and often forget to relax and enjoy the world around me so I set a goal of going outside to get fresh air and drink in the world’s beauty for 10 minutes every day. I’ve done pretty well with this one except on days when it is gloomy and rainy. When it is sunny, 10 minutes isn’t enough 🙂
Session 3 – Mental Health: In an effort to cut back on the mental garbage in my life, I set a goal of reading one non-fiction book or watching one documentary a week about the social issues facing our world. I love learning so this one has been fun for me. I’ve watched Poverty Inc on Netflix about global poverty assistance programs that might be doing more harm than good. Now I’m reading A Billion Bootstraps about Microfinance and Business Solutions for ending poverty. I’m almost finished and I have to say that I have LOVED this book!
It is my hope that these 90 day goals will become lifetime habits!
We are so excited that in 3 weeks we will be kicking off our local small group for couples. Our current plan is to meet on Sunday nights twice a month to study the Transformed Spiritual Growth Series taught by Rick Warren from Saddleback Church. In future posts, we’ll share what the group thinks about this series and decide whether or not it will make our Top 100 Small Group Studies list. Here is what we’ve read about this study….
TRANSFORMED is a seven session series that Rick Warren ran as a church-wide 50 days of transformation campaign about 3 years ago at Saddleback Church (which is based in Southern California). During the series, he will be teaching about how to grow in 7 key areas of one’s life, spending one week on each topic: Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial and Vocational. We plan to not only watch the 7 small group sessions, but to also watch the related sermon messages on the weeks when our group does not meet. Plus, we’ll be using the Transformed Study Guide.
We hope to explore what the bible says about these 7 key areas and learn about the habits, truths and characteristics that enable true transformation. Many of us are struggling with relationships, finances, and general questions about the meaning of life. And the world’s promises leave us empty and searching for more. God’s will is the only answer that promises to TRANSFORM our lives from the inside out.
Right now we are focused on finding 4 to 6 couples for our group so we’ve been asking everyone we know and promoting it in our church bulletin. So far 3 couples have committed so hopefully God will send a few more our way.
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