Exploring Gods Mercy

Exploring God’s Mercy: Five Images of Salvation
Steven Croft, Church House Publishing, 2010

£5.99 (Approx)
3.8
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

This book aims to help you discover one simple truth: that God loves you passionately, deeply and unconditionally. Exploring the depth, strength and constancy of this love is a lifetime’s journey and this short series of studies is designed to take you further on that journey. It focuses on five timeless images of God’s love that Christians of all generations have experienced: once lost, we are now found; once captive, we are now set free; once sick, we are now healed; once in danger, we are now safe; once barren, we are now fruitful. Exploring God’s Mercy traces this dynamic love from the Psalms, which give voice to the deepest experiences of our lives, to the life and ministry of Jesus and the events of Good Friday and Easter Day in which its transforming effects are most vividly revealed. No one can be left unchanged b y this depth of love and so each session begins and ends with a simple act of prayer and worship. Questions for discussion, suggestion for further reading and link to short YouTube films especially made by the author are all provided.

What do you get?

Book with five sessions:

  1. Lost and found, hungry and satisfied.
  2. In prison and set free.
  3. Sick and made well.
  4. Storm tossed and comforted.
  5. Living the fruitful life.

90 minutes. Book needed for each participant.

Who is it for?

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

Cost?

£5.99 www.chpublishing.co.uk. 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 videos on YouTube are a little rough round the edges.

    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 help you understand how much God loves you'.

    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. Imaginative mix of Bible, worship and reflection, discussion and suggested uses of media. Latter may include the YouTube videos of Croft introducing each topic, but other ideas are also given for music and film clips. 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.

    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. Space at the end of each session for personal notes, but all the worship responses, stories and readings are included.

    How good is any digital material?

    Videos are a little static and rough round the edges (Croft is cut off at the end of sentences at times; the background music is repetitive), but the settings against which he talks are varied and imaginative. It would be up the leader to choose if they are helpful for the group. They are an addition rather than 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.

    Is there website support? Links?

    YouTube links or 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?

    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 Psalm 107, Mark 4-9 and a New Testament passage on the passion of Christ.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Great mix of biblical material: in worship, reflection, responses based on the Psalm, study and discussion. Really good retold stories from Mark using group members to bring to life dramatic versions. 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 section on the Eucharist and some material from Common Worship.

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

    Focus is on understanding God's love for each person. Material clearly designed to both think about this and experience it through worship and walking through it together as a group.

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

    Deals with five major themes well; thought-provoking and broad. Reflective questions at the end of each session to take away.

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

    The themes would be relevant and challenging for most people in some way or other – none of us have a complete understanding of God's love.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Rooted in realistic understanding of the blocks and difficulties we have in understanding God's love for us. References to today's real life issues as well as biblical stories.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Not a focus but hopefully an outworking of growing confidence in the understanding of God's love for each and every one.

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

    Not a focus.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus, but again, growing in understanding of the extent of God's love must have implications for this too.

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