The Bible Course
Dr Andrew Ollerton, Bible Society,

£24.99 (Approx)
4.8
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Whether you’re new to the Bible or want to go deeper, The Bible Course is for you. It shows how all the books, characters and events fit together to form one BIG story, from Genesis to Revelation.

The course also provides tools and skills to help apply the Bible to everyday life.

The course consists of eight interactive session. Each includes video content, discussion time, personal reflection and daily readings.

An 8-session course helping you explore the world’s bestseller. Accessible and interactive, it will enhance and inform your ongoing Bible study, whether you are new to the Bible or want to go deeper. Using a unique storyline, the course shows how the key events, books and characters all fit together. You’ll get to see the BIG picture and discover how the Bible applies to your life.

What do you get?

Both the DVD set needs to be obtained, as well as workbooks for each group member at £4.99, which can be bought in bulk with discount.

The video material is also available via download or to stream at www.biblesociety.org.uk/products/thebiblecourse/.

A typical session includes:

  • Welcome from the Course host
  • 15 minute teaching video
  • 25 minute discussion time
  • 15 minute teaching video
  • 10 minute personal reflection to finish
  • Daily readings between sessions

The content of the course over eight sessions includes:

  • Introducing the Bible
  • Creation & Covenant
  • Exodus & Promised Land
  • Judges & Kings
  • Exile & Prophets
  • Jesus & the Gospels
  • Acts & the Church
  • Revelation & Review

Who is it for?

1-2-1 coaching, small groups and whole church. Adults, older youth and students. Enquiring, Beginning, Growing.

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Exciting, crystal clear, engaging overview of the Bible – its provenance and its story – presented to suit pretty much anyone. An extraordinary achievement.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Very clear aims throughout – to understand how the Bible story works together, and what that means for us today, in order to give us lifelong tools to use.

    How accessible are the leader’s notes?

    Short, clear intro video on website explains rationale. All group members use their own copy of the attractive manual. Each session consists of 2 x 15-minute video clips, and 25 minutes for discussion between them with questions, summarised on the screen as well as in the manual. Each session ends with space and ideas for personal reflection of 10 minutes. If you register on the Bible Society website that you are running the course, then you get through to an A4 page of notes for each session, with detailed timings, icebreakers, suggestions for refreshments relevant to the themes and other tips for leaders. There are promo videos of varied lengths, plus access to the logo, posters, PowerPoint promo and so on.

    Who could lead it?

    Any leader who can encourage discussion; preferably someone who is excited to present the material. It would be a shame to sell it short.

    How helpful are the participants’ resources?

    Brilliant spiral-bound booklet. Attractive, beautifully laid out, including images that appear on the videos as well. Room for notes in each section. Glossary of terms at the back, plus further resource suggestions, from books to online. Chunky and satisfying.

    How good is any digital material?

    Again, first class. Two presenters – author Dr Andrew Ollerton and Heather Preston. Both are naturally good, clear and interesting communicators. The Bible overview is illustrated with an innovative timeline, crafted in wood. Very clever. Graphics, a good variety of cutaways and backgrounds, quotes and clips enhance the presentation. Some is filmed on location; some in a purpose-built studio.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Make sure you have enough booklets for every member. Watch the videos and read the manual. You may want to register your course on the Bible Society website for access to further material for leaders as well. They cover every conceivable angle you might be needing help with.

    Is there website support? Links?

    If you register on the Bible Society website that you are running the course, then there is an A4 page of notes for each session, with detailed timings, icebreakers, suggestions for refreshments relevant to the themes and other tips for leaders. There are promo videos of varied lengths, plus access to the logo, posters, PowerPoint promotion and so on. There are more introductory videos for leaders; everything is very helpful and clear.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Frequent pauses for discussion. Encouragement to share reactions to the material, to the daily Bible readings and to the times for personal reflection. Prayer is suggested to finish the session. The discussion questions pick up on the What?/Now what? They are fairly straight forward but thoughtful and could be taken at the level appropriate to the individual and the group.

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

    Good mixture of video, reading, listening, discussion. Latter is vital, as there is a lot to take on board each session. But Ollerton and the presentation give us the best chance possible to do this. He is an engaging story teller, and the fifteen-minute slots seem shorter. Prayer to finish is encouraged.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Suitable for most people and groups I can think of, including workplace and prisons. Low literacy groups would be able to relate to the visual way the Bible story is represented on the video.

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

    Group members are encouraged to ask both What? (did this mean in the original context) and Now what? (does it mean to us) in response to all biblical material. In addition, there are daily Bible readings for looking at between each session, with the encouragement to ask the two key questions of each passage for ourselves, and note down our responses. Repeated recaps of the overview, and the tools to engage with it, help ongoing learning.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    All of it. This is an overview of the Bible story which is repeated every session, as it extends. Great way to learn how it all fits together.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Ollerton tells the story of salvation history from beginning to end, working his way along wooden Bible illustration. This is peppered with quotations from the Bible, chosen to mark the progress of the story, and appearing as quotations on the video. Ollerton often gives a steer as to what to listen for in the quoted biblical material. These are repeated in the booklet.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    The theological principles are applied to the big story of the problems of the world, such as the mystery of pain and suffering. They are also applied to our situations and our lives, all the way through. Ollerton refers forward to the way that Jesus fulfils all the promise of the Old Testament stories, and how that impacts our lives today. Very well done.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Solid summary of the sweep of Bible history.

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

    The potential for this increases as the story progresses. Ollerton builds the foundations well. He picks out the key events that illustrate God’s character, dealings with Israel, and meaning for us today.

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

    Ollerton makes the story of the Bible supremely accessible. The discussion times are probably key to absorb it, as there is inevitably a lot of material. The presentation style mitigates this as it is light and engaging. You could always go more slowly, or rerun some sections. It would be hard not to grow in your faith.

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

    This may well be the first time some group members have had the opportunity to consider the whole Bible story. It would be an excellent way to do it. Clear evidence for the reliability of the Bible is included.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Contemporary examples and illustrations are used to help us understand and relate to the biblical stories. The relevance to our lives is clearly spelled out. Practical suggestions are given throughout as to how to engage personally with the Bible.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Clear challenge to believe in Jesus, and to invite others to do the same.

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

    Implicit in reaching out with care in Jesus’ name, just as the first disciples did.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    God is revealed as positively including asylum seekers, women, prostitutes, foreigners and widows in his family story. He is pro freedom, and against slavery, interpersonal comparisons, superficiality and racism, to name a few.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Through the session on Acts and the Church, Ollerton explores the difference that the power of the Holy Spirit makes to continuing the mission of Jesus – for each of us, just like it did for the original disciples. This includes seeing God at work in power, persecution and growth; and thoughtful strategies.

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