Experiencing Gods Love

Experiencing God’s Love: Five images of transformation
Steven Croft, Church House Publishing, 2011

£5.99 (Approx)
4.2
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

To experience the extent of the love that God pours out on us day after day is powerful and life changing indeed. This book helps us to explore the depths of that love and to reflect on how our lives might be transformed by it. It focuses on five timeless images of being loved that God’s people have known for thousands of years: Being rooted and secure in God’s work; Being washed and made clean; Knowing that God lights our way and dispels our fears; Being tended by God all our days; Being welcomed to feast at God’s table, now and in the world to come. In five short studies, we discover more of the reality of this extraordinary love as we encounter these images in the oldest prayers of God’s people, the Psalms, and in the actions and words of Jesus. Each begins and ends with a simple act of worship that encourages us to think how we can put this love into practice in our own lives. For those who have recently come to faith, Experiencing God’s Love provides helpful resources for the journey ahead, while those who have been Christians for many years will find fresh ways of seeing how their life with God is unfolding.

What do you get?

Book with five sessions:

  1. Rooted.
  2. Washed.
  3. Enlightened.
  4. Tended.
  5. Welcomed.

90 minutes. Book needed for each participant. Audio files via CHP website.

Who is it for?

Adults, individuals, small group, whole church, follow, grow.

Cost?

£5.99 from Church House Publishing. eBook also available for same price.

Review

  • What is the overall quality of the material?

    Well-produced book with matt cover and clear layout. Accompanying audio file via www.chpublishing.co.uk/experiencinggodslove.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Easy layout, and introductory pages spell out the aims of the book, of which the main aim is to look at ‘five different pictures of what it means to live the Christian life'.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Introductory pages spell out how to run the material for a group, and the rationale behind the material. Timings for a session are given, but the idea is to choose from the material for each one. Introduction to each theme is quite long for reading out loud, so pre-reading might be better for all. Otherwise, an imaginative mix of Bible, worship and reflection, discussion and suggested uses of media. Ideas are also given for music and film clips. Third section focuses on ‘Habits and practices' in response to the theme. Easy to follow. Introduction suggests that the material could be used for post-confirmation, post-Alpha-type courses, in twos or threes, as a plan for services, as a lead for Lent, and for individuals. Audio files not necessary for this resource to work well, but add the author's voice and further thoughts to the theme.

    Who could lead it?

    A leader with confidence to pick and choose appropriately for the group, and involve others in delivering the material.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Just the one book for all. This is also suggested for individual use, however, the material would be best for groups as the interaction is integral to the material. Pre-reading each introduction to the theme would be a good thing. Space at the end of each session for personal notes, and action points, but all the worship responses, stories and readings are included.

    How good is any digital material?

    Audio files via CHP site, providing further insight into the five images of God's love from Croft. Optional. Average of six minutes each. Good, but not essential.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Careful choice of material for each session, and some preparation of, for example, music or film clips, items needed for hands-on activities. Getting others involved. Preparation for the following session is flagged up in each one.

    Is there website support? Links?

    Audio files via www.chpublishing.co.uk.

    Is it dated?

    Not overall, but dates and films are referred to which may need replacing with more contemporary suggestions.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Very well. A strength of this resource. Discussion, prayer, reflection, activities and worship together.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    A good mix of gentle worship including responses, discussion, prayer, reflection, imaginative and appropriate activities (one per session). Quite a lot of listening to do, depending on the material chosen.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    As long as the group is happy to listen to readings and stories as well as join in with biblically-based (Psalm 107) responses, this material should work well for a wide range of people. Great that it includes interactive elements.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Third section of the session focuses on ‘habits and practices' in response to the theme. Straight-forward questions for discussion give all the chance to respond to the material, and work out how it applies personally. Most questions revolve around application. Space at the end of each session to decide on and record ongoing actions.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Most of the material revolves around biblical material. It is based on five psalms, the Gospel of John, psalm-based prayers and responses.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Great mix of biblical material: in worship, reflection, responses based on the Psalm and discussion. Really good retold stories from John using group members to bring to life dramatic versions. Introduction to each theme digs into the biblical material. Thought-provoking and powerful mixture.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Strong application of the themes into everyday life, and opportunities for group to respond in discussion, reflection, activities and prayer.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Obvious Anglican background, including prayers from Holy Communion from Common Worship.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Underlying conviction is that ‘change comes through the grace of God working within us rather than through our own efforts.' A third of the material is focused on ideas for ‘habits and practices' for building life as a disciple.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Deals with five major themes well; thought-provoking and broad. Lots of suggestions for practical disciplines to enable life as a disciple. Action points at the end of each session.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    The material both illustrates from the Bible the principles of transformation, and makes positive suggestions as to how to put them into practice.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Rooted in realistic understanding of the challenges of life. References to today's real life issues as well as biblical stories.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Challenge to take God's light to the world and discussion on how to do that.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Challenge to think through church and community involvement.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Acknowledged, though not a major feature.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Challenge to take God's light to the world and discussion on how to do that.

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