SUbstance

SUbstance faithful to the Bible: relevant to the world
Written by various experts in the field of Bible teaching and youth work. Scripture Union, Volume 1: 2008 – Volume 9: 2010

£9.99 (Approx)
3.6
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

SUbstance faithful to the Bible: relevant to the world, is an engaging and thought-provoking series which enables young people to develop an understanding of the fundamentals of Christianity, and how it is relevant to their lives. With 9 activity packed volumes to work through over the period of a year, the material allows 14-18 year olds to discover how much God loves His people and equips them to live differently because of it.

What do you get and how?

A choice of 9 volumes. Each volume is composed of an A4 glossy leader’s guide. The guides include facilitator notes for each session and activities at the back to photocopy prior to leading the sessions. The guides can be purchased from the Scripture Union website. Each volume also references free activities which are available at www.scriptureunion.org.uk/substance.

Who is it for?

Young people aged 14 – 18 years old. The material is designed for group work/ a youth group.

Cost?

Each leader’s guide: £9.99

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Protective glossy format with clear layouts, relevant images and attractive text.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Aims are clear to allow the leader to introduce the focus of each session well. The outcomes are less defined, in order to allow young people to form their own conclusions from material presented.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Extremely easy to follow and well-focused to each topic. The introductory notes explicitly state the layout of the sessions, and explain how each sub-heading is to be used. The leader's notes for each session introduce the relevant verses, give the context in which these verses were written, and suggest how they are applicable to us today. Clear headings, attractive layout and obvious sign-posting to external resources which may be needed. Some books have rather small font.

    Who could lead it?

    Individuals with experience in youth work. As the sessions allow flexibility in the choice of activities, it would be preferable to have someone who knows the youth group well, in order to apply the most effective learning techniques for those individuals.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Appealing layouts with clear direction to allow personal reflection as well as group discussion. The resources for the activities offer participants a choice of simply applying new concepts or delving deeper in to the Bible.

    How good is any digital material?

    N/A reference to finding external songs/clips via the internet though.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Extensive preparation is needed for most sessions. These materials are flexible in order to allow the right application for different groups of youth. This means activities for each subheading of a session need to be decided on prior to the session and relevant materials printed off/ bought/ set up. Each session has thought provoking questions to ask young people but no set answers, therefore a thorough understanding/ familiarity of themes and topics raised in the relevant verses would be advised.

    Is there website support? Links?

    There are downloadable materials which can be found at www.scriptureunion.org.uk/substance. There are also a few references to clips/songs which, if not owned by the leader, can be accessed via the internet.

    Is it dated?

    No, external sources are extremely well known and historical references are relevant. Some consideration may need to be taken in the future with resources which use technology jargon e.g MP3 player.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Very well, each session encourages discussion and team activity as well as reflection and space to form personal opinions. The 'Begin' activities provoke initial interactions which relax the young people and establish a safe environment for honest discussion.

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

    From watching video clips and reading passages to shaping clay and designing advertising strategies, these 9 volumes spark enthusiasm and intrigue within young people which allows each individual to access key messages in the Bible. With helpful metaphors and a plethora of practical activities, SUbstance encourages individuals of all levels to access how narratives in the Bible are applicable to their lives.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    The SUbstance volumes should be suitable to a wide range of youth from differing backgrounds due to the flexibility of materials and choices of activities for each section. The series has been developed with a target audience of 14-18 year olds due to the topics raised and subsequent activities produced. With larger youth groups, it may be necessary to have more than one facilitator leading the sessions. Some activities may require more space/ internet access/ shop bought goods. If you only have the time for one volume, that's fine! The series can be worked through in chronological order or independently. Each session takes 45 – 60 minutes.

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

    Very well. By introducing the context of the passages then asking leading, open questions, each session makes the themes of the Bible relevant and accessible to 14 – 18 year olds. This encourages them to draw parallels between Biblical characters and their own situations.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Around a third, depending on the session.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Clearly and imaginatively. Rarely is a passage simply read out to the group. Biblical material is used in conjunction with helpful metaphors in order to enhance understanding and encourage young people to ask questions.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Directly, biblical narratives are presented alongside present day equivalents.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    SUbstance allows young people to develop an understanding of the Bible and how this applies to their lives, but at a depth which can be determined by the leader. Therefore, a solid widely-accepted Christian understanding of what Christianity is and what its core principles are would be advantageous. Encourages young people to read passages from different Bible versions.

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

    This series is extremely effective in inspiring young people towards whole-life discipleship. By allowing individuals to explore how much God loves human beings, an emphasis is put on discipleship being our response to God's love. Over the course of the 9 volumes, young people are mobilised and equipped to understand what serving God looks like as an individual.

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

    The series is aimed at allowing young people to grow in their faith and explore what it means to be a Christian. Individual growth is a huge focus of the SUbstance series. Young people are encouraged and equipped to know how to know God more. Guidance on how to pray, worship, read the Bible and go to church in volume 1 help prepare youth for engaging with God, in order to get the most out of the following sessions.

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

    They are encouraged to think about how God's purposes can be applied to real life situations in order to enhance understanding.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Extremely well. Examples used in materials draw on challenges faced in teenage years as well as obstacles later on in life.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Gently introduces mechanisms to mobilise young people to grow in their relationship with God. Prompts them to engage with key Christian concepts and find their own answers.

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

    Not a main focus, however, volume 5 introduces the importance of outward evangelism.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a main focus, however volume 8 introduces what the Bible has to say about social issues. Some activities based around news articles and clips.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a strong focus.

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