I recently subscribed our church to an incredible online library of over 500 small group video-based studies. Each study includes not only the videos, which you stream from the Internet and show your group, but also discussion guides and participant guides for the leader and group members. This is an excellent resource that we have unlimited access to, and I would encourage any group to take advantage of it. Here are three recommended studies from this site:
This six-week video series focuses on parenting and features teaching from Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church, Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, and Kurt and Olivia Bruner, founders of ItStartsAtHome.org. This is an excellent study for groups with parents who are raising their children to know and love the Lord. My own group is currently going through this series. No book is required (which is great for young parents who have little time to read during the week!).
This six-week video series is based on one of the best marriage books I’ve read, Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas. I give a copy of this book as a wedding gift to every couple I have the privilege of seeing married (whether as a guest or a participant in their ceremony).
This 12-week video series goes through the New Testament book of Philippians and features teaching from one of my favorite pastors, Matt Chandler. His teaching is powerful and challenging to new believers and seasoned saints alike. I promise you won’t be disappointed as Pastor Matt walks your group through one of the most profound books in the Bible!
In a recent blog post, I suggested reading the Bible in big chunks, rather than snippets, or even worse a verse here and there. It’s important to get the big idea, the context, of what you’re doing, and you only get that when you read bigger chunks. I even recommended you pick a shorter book of the Bible and read it all in one sitting.
I want to go a step further and suggest that you not only read a whole book at once, but that you read the same book every day for a week. Why in the world would I say that? Won’t that throw off your read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan? I may get skewered by some people for saying this, but I would rather you go deep and only read a few books a year than go shallow and skim the whole Bible in a year. Sure, you may get through the entire Bible in 365 days, but how much did you understand? How deep did you go in the reading? Did you wrestle with the meaning of a passage, and specifically what it means for you (notice I did not say what it means to you, but for you; in other words, how the passage changes your life)?
Now having said that, let me put a caveat on it. It is important to have a big picture view of the whole Bible. If you’re new to the faith or have never surveyed the whole Bible, I would strongly recommend stepping back and seeing the Bible as one story before you dive into a specific book. There are a number of good books that survey the Bible, but this one’s my favorite.
Once you have a good overview of the whole Bible, put the one-year-reading-plan on hold for a bit and take a few days/weeks to really dig deep into a book. Try reading that book every day for a week. Get a good study Bible and maybe even a commentary on your Bible book. If you’re really serious, get a Bible study program on your computer. Come to the Scriptures expecting to encounter God, not just gain information (think of reading the Bible as going on a date with God). Ask good questions as you read, and journal your experience.
When you’re done with that book, pick another and do the same thing. Keep on doing it until you’re dead. Then, just ask Jesus in person what the Holy Spirit meant when He inspired the Scriptures!