Seeing Our Faith

Seeing Our Faith: Creative Ideas for Working with Images of Christ
Janet Hodgson, Canterbury Press, 2011

£19.99 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

The life of Christ has inspired artists through the centuries and, ever since religious images were first made, the figure of Christ has been depicted in every imaginable way. This resource in the popular Creative Ideas series uses images of Christ, from the familiar to the unexpected, to inspire a wealth of material for worship, study, faith sharing, prayer, reflection, workshops, retreats and quiet days. Complete with ready-made programme outlines and downloadable handouts, the accompanying CD ROM also includes 199 images of Christ drawn from many cultures around the world. Ideas for a pick-and-mix approach will enable leaders to shape the material to suit local situations and differing needs.

In so many areas of life and faith, we rely on words. This rich visual resource will help unlock our intuition and our imagination as we seek fresh ways to express our faith and to enable others to share their stories.

What do you get?

Large A5 paperback book plus CD ROM. Guidelines for Using the Book and 7 chapters:

  1. Why Images of Christ?
  2. One Saviour Facing In Many Directions.
  3. Working with Images of Christ.
  4. Re-imaging Mission.
  5. The Young Shall See Visions.
  6. Meditating with Images.
  7. ‘Afraid to Look at God!’

CD ROM: Images are a mixture of black and white, and colour for projection. Handouts are photocopiable, and are a mixture of talks, Bible studies, worship ideas and outline programmes. Latter are designed to be flexible and reflect the content of the book. Timings given for a variety of programmes and events.

Who is it for?

Enquirers, Beginning and Growing Christians, Adult, Youth, Children. Small group, whole church.




  • What is the overall quality of the material?

    Book has good cover and CD is easy to use. A rather different type of resource to the norm, with lots of potential, but harder to access than some in that the text and plans are all part of each chapter.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    The chapter titles flag up clearly the aim for each one; the preface tells us that the book is ‘about working with images of Christ as a way of enabling people to explore, nurture, share and celebrate their faith through a wide variety of means'. Hodgson makes an impassioned case for using images both to bypass our critical faculties and allow the Holy Spirit to impact us through the visual; and to use them as a powerful missional tool.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    This is an unusual resource in that the material runs through each chapter with a main talk, stories, programmes, exercises, worship, discussion and Bible studies intermingled. While example programmes are given for use of all these (in clearly marked boxes), the material is designed to be used to suit. The layout takes a bit of getting used to – this is not a pick-up-and-run resource - though the content page also gives helpful summaries of each chapter. A group (or event) leader may therefore want to choose suitable elements. For example, the talks may be too long for a small group situation, though just right for a longer event. The handouts include material for both leaders and participants. The images for projection are mostly images of Christ, with some other symbolic images also. But there is some great content, moving stories and memorable images.

    Who could lead it?

    A leader who is keen to explore the visual as a way to encounter God, and who can enthuse others to do the same. The leader would also need to be confident in choosing how to use the material for the group.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    This resource has a different emphasis to many discipleship resources, in being focused on images. There is no separate book for participants, but they may want to keep some of the handouts, especially those which include images.

    How good is any digital material?

    An interesting and thought-provoking collection of images on a CD that works well, and gives options as to slide shows of the images or obtaining them from the lists.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Clear advice on preparation is given in the opening Guidelines, but preparation may take some time. Leaders will have to read through the material and for decide how much of it to use, and how best to use it. They are also encouraged to gather images of Christ in addition to the projected ones, such as postcards, books, etc.

    Is there website support? Links?


    Is it dated?


  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Good mix of quiet response, Bible study, worship and discussion. Responses to images are essentially individual, but the rest of the material is interactive.

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

    The mixture of story, talk, Bible study, images, worship, discussion, some activities, exercises cover a good range of styles.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Designed for flexibility so would suit a wide range of people. The chapter The Young Shall See Visions is specifically for youth and children. The stories, many of which are attached to a particular image, are engaging and memorable. Meditative and response-based elements, poetry etc may be new or unfamiliar to some participants.

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

    Opportunities to worship together, explore the images and stories in discussion, and study the Bible together. Application is encouraged especially through the Bible studies.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    9 Bible studies spread throughout the 7 chapters.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Bible study relates to the topic, which is highlighted by a story or consideration from the churches all over the world.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Direct focus on application from the biblical material to everyday life. Major missional priority.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Broad and accepting. Missional focus.

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

    Innovative ways of relating to God primarily through image will give participants a very different experience to other resources.

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

    Some moving stories of reactions to images are included in the book – some of them profound. Given that many remember images more than words, this could be a very effective growing experience.

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

    A really interesting question for this particular resource as it gathers some very different ways of worshipping and relating to Christ than many ‘Western world' participants may be familiar with. But this may be all the more reason to try them out as they are bound to provoke discussion and stretch understanding of Christ through different cultures.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    The stories are a mix of old and new experiences of real life. Big variety, with a focus on mission. Hodgson does not duck the difficult issues of traditional mission around the globe, or current challenges. Inspiring.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Hodgson clearly has a heart for mission of all sorts, and this comes across again and again in this resource. She has experience of images reaching parts of people that words cannot. She makes her own workshops as open as possible, in order to start the conversations with people who may never have gone to a more word-based study group. She encourages her readers to do the same.

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

    See above – this is a low-threshold resource which could be very versatile in the community.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    This resource has a distinctively global perspective, with images of Christ from all over the world. Thought-provoking and implicitly world-embracing.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    The variety of origin of the images encourages observers to think globally. The vivid illustration of the world-wide church cannot be missed. A strength of this resource.

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