Start! Discovering Christianity in six small-group sessions
Robin Gamble, David Bell, CPAS, 2003. DVD presented by Robin Gamble, Phyllis Manners and David Banbury

£45.00 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

Start! Here for a down-to-earth course to help today’s men and women discover the Christian faith in a small-group setting.

What do you get and how?

Pack including A4 Leader’s manual, DVD box with DVD and CD-ROM.

DVD: 3 mini-programmes to help you make the most of Start! 12 short programmes for the 6 Start! Sessions; optional subtitles.

CD-ROM: course member’s booklet; alternative member’s sheets; Start! Publicity materials.

Six sessions, each 60-90 minutes, with 2 x video inputs per session (8-10 minutes in all):

  1. Life is for Living
  2. Oh my God!
  3. Jesus who?
  4. What’s gone wrong?
  5. Dying to save us
  6. Into the arms of love.

Material for producing member’s booklet. Publicity material – invitations (colour or black and white) and posters.

Who is it for?

Enquirers, Adult, Youth


£45 including postage from


  • What is the overall quality of the material?

    Well-produced leader's guide, DVD and CD-ROM. Rumour has it the DVD is currently being updated.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Very clear, as you would expect from CPAS – each session even has an ‘Aims' icon in the leader's guide. Icons for each section of the session continue throughout the easy-to-use layout.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    See aims and outcomes – the leader's guide is very well laid out. Icons guide through each session. Guide opens with an excellent, inspiring and practical couple of pages on how to prepare for the course. A unique feature is a short dedicated devotional reflection just for the leader, to prepare themselves before each session. Each session includes a welcome, introduction, 2 x video inputs, discussion, light interactive section, reflections based around a biblical passage. Very accessible.

    Who could lead it?

    There is a thought-provoking section about this in the opening pages of the guide which encourages careful thought but recommends two leaders with a mixture of gender, gifts and experience. Desirable qualities for group leading also listed! Both the mini-programme on the DVD and the guide have ideas for how and who to encourage to come to the course.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    These can be produced via the CD-ROM (choice of formats) or the leader's guide. They are a small booklet with succinct points picked out from each session, together with reproduced graphics or illustrations from the session. Spaces for participants to fill in their own responses in places, plus suggestions for prayers.

    How good is any digital material?

    Main course programme on the DVD with Robin Gamble and Phyllis Manners is engaging and lively, set against a fairground/seaside background. It includes street interviews as well as creative presentations of the themes with the two presenters. Great pace. Extra mini-programme for preparation is less fun, but has some good tips. Some settings are a bit dated, but the DVD is still perfectly usable - and a new updated version is coming out soon. Publicity on CD-ROM looks attractive.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Preparation is recommended as ‘one third on content and 2/3 on contacts' by David Banbury. As an outreach course, this means allowing plenty of lead-in time, including time for publicity. Booklets need preparing. Each session needs pre-viewing of the videos, preparing both leaders, collecting materials for interactive slots.

    Is there website support? Links?

    Just the facility to buy it with some extra commendations.

    Is it dated?

    Some settings on the DVD are a bit dated, but it is still usable as it is while you look forward to an updated version out soon.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Good. Discussion based around questions but also interactive elements (e.g. selecting newspaper headlines/ different pictures of Jesus/model of scrapyard for the effects of sin).

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles? Great mix of visual, interactive, discussion, video, reflections and prayers aimed at both head and heart. Should appeal to a wide range of learners. Good pace and variety, light approach.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    The website material quotes ‘the down-to-earth interactive approach of Start! has proved a winner throughout the UK and overseas - and in every kind of setting: rural, urban and suburban churches, schools, the armed forces, prisons …' The approach is light yet to the point, and very accessible. It should indeed suit a wide range of groups. Although it recommends 10 people maximum, it could work with larger groups, breaking them into smaller ones for interaction and discussion.

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

    Unusually well, via the interactive ideas, but full recognition that each member's response to this presentation of Christianity will be unique. No pressure applied, but follow up visits/chats encouraged to acknowledge this response and offer further support where wanted.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    About a third of the time is direct interaction with biblical material, through discussion and reflection.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Discussion and reflection. Great combination.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Focused on the Christian worldview regarding God, our relationship with him, and what Jesus did to put that right.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Broad evangelical approach.

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

    This is an introduction to Christianity and the six sessions do well to cover the basic message of the Gospel in imaginative, interactive ways. These include space for reflection and personal response, plenty of discussion, absolutely no pressure.

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

    Good varied range of approaches to faith, including material for head and heart gives careful and respectful opportunities for participants to respond.

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

    This is well designed for people who know very little about the Christian faith. It is light yet to the point. It includes reminders about how to treat groups well, how to find one's way around the Bible and has great summaries and opportunities for personal thought and response. Not too much information, but enough, starting where people are.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    The course is focused around what people think about God (e.g. the street interviews on the video), and communicates the Christian Gospel in imaginative ways. It deals with the concept of sin carefully, lightly, but also with reality.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Very well – if you are running the course, or bringing a friend. Opportunity for whole church to join in.

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

    Aimed at reaching into the community with a chance to find out about Christianity.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a focus, apart from worldview.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus but implicit in the grounded and relevant approach to Christianity and what people think about God.

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