The Life you've always wanted

The Life You’ve Always Wanted
John Ortberg, with Stephen and Amanda Sorenson, Zondervan, 2005

£21.99 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

What does true spiritual life really look like? What keeps you from living such a life? How can you pursue it? If those in your small group are tired of the status quo, if you suspect there’s more to Christianity than what you’ve experienced, John Ortberg invites you to join him on a road to transformation and spiritual vigor that anyone can take. Through six sessions that include video clips and group discussions. The Life You’ve Always Wanted (ZondervanGroupware) guides you down the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines.

What do you get and how?

DVD with leader’s guide in the box. Large A5 format glossy book for participant’s guide. Sessions include:

  • It’s ‘Morphing’ time.
  • Slowing Down and Celebrating.
  • Praying and Confession.
  • Meditating on Scripture and Seeking Guidance.
  • Practicing Servanthood, Finding Freedom.
  • Going the Distance with a Well-Ordered Heart.

60 minute, flexible, sessions (15 minutes DVD section). It is recommended that the book The Life You’ve always Wanted is bought as well.

Who is it for?

Adult, Beginners, Growing Christians


DVD, leader’s guide and participant’s guide: £21.99 approx
Extra participant’s guides: £6.99
Book (Hardcover Expanded): £11.99


  • What is the overall quality of the material?

    Neat glossy books and DVD cover. Well-presented video material and books. Well laid out, particularly in the participant's guide. Font in leader's guide is small.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Clear and easy to understand. Based on Ortberg's experience both of struggles in spiritual life but also ‘that it is possible to live the life I've always wanted to live'.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Clear and straight-forward to use (though font is small). Comprehensive in that DVD includes a short video advising about how to run a small group well – including aspirations and hopes for spiritual growth for all and how to facilitate these. DVD instructions guide the session very clearly. It is recommended that the leader read the relevant chapters from the book also, to grasp the subject, but this is not essential. The DVD presentation is clear and the instructions are easy to follow. The leader's notes are purely practical as the session material apart from the DVD is all in the participant's guide. Here, there is a significant amount of very good material to work through, on a discussion basis, with different groupings suggested for each section – e.g. feedback on video, plenary, small groups and plenary again.

    Who could lead it?

    A leader with some experience would be best, as the topics may provoke reactions among participants that need wise handling (the sessions on suffering and joy in particular. Someone with heavy burdens to carry may find these challenging and need encouragement). However, the resource itself is easy to use, and the material inspiring and grounded.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    The participant's guide contains all the discussion material, accompanying notes for the topic, plenty of space for notes around the DVD presentation and discussions, and follow-up activities for between sessions. They are clearly laid out, comprehensive and are a cross between a workbook and topic teaching. Very helpful and thorough, with targeted questions that should apply to all. Space for personal reactions, plus between-session responses as well.

    How good is any digital material?

    Very good. DVD leads the session clearly, is easy to use. John Ortberg introduces the session, provides around 15 minutes of teaching and closes it as well. The teaching is set outside with a group that Ortberg takes on a journey around a park, each with backpacks full of visual aids that appear to illustrate the topics. The DVD is obviously American, but the teaching should be widely applicable to Western-style audiences.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    The session would be best lead with good preparation – if possible reading the chapters from the book as suggested, but at least viewing the DVD material and looking through the passages for discussion. This is a solid, well-grounded and challenging resource which deserves good leading.

    Is there website support? Links?

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Very well. Apart from the DVD, each session is designed around discussion, both biblically-based and applied. The instructions suggest a range of groupings for each session – plenary and smaller groups or pairs.

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

    The mix of DVD, reading and discussion should suit many. No hands on, but a leader could pick up on some of the visual aids' ideas in the DVD and incorporate them in the session.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Should work for many groups, who are prepared to engage with discussion and reading. Although it is designed for 60 minutes, it could well take longer as there is a significant amount of discussion material to work through. The leader's guide suggests flexibility suitable to your group however.

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

    A strong feature of this resource. The questions for discussion around biblical material and application are thorough, thought-provoking and interesting. It hits at all levels - group response, immediate personal response, and between-session ‘homework' which takes the topic further. Really good.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    At least 33%. All the topics are centred around the biblical material, woven in with how we interact with them.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Good opportunities to engage with relevant passages to the topics, with interesting questions.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Implicitly and explicitly. It is the biblical material that is the inspiration on which the topic is built. Applying it should change everything about everyday life ...

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Evangelical but would suit a broad audience.

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

    Ortberg focuses on the five topics listed which cover some basic attitudes to life and faith. Taking him up on his biblically-based suggestions would be life-changing.

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

    The course is strong on practical suggestions for how to engage with new ways of growing in faith, with the analogy of training for new skills, and allowing God to do the transformation. Some of the between-session ideas are inspiring. A personal ‘rule of life' is encouraged and enabled.

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

    This is focused on how to live well with God so the vision centres around some of the potential for that. Faith-stretching in helping participants to engage with topics in a new way, with new ideas.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    The resource focuses on inner approaches to life, but these inevitably connect with all real life issues. Examples of how our attitudes affect all of life are well illustrated.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Not a focus.

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

    Not a particular focus, but many of the examples of ‘the life you've always wanted' concern how we react to the community around us.

    How well does it connect with the global issues?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus.

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One comment on “The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  1. Di Archer

    Now that our small group is actually using this great resource, it might be helpful for people to know that it is so bursting with good stuff that we have chosen to spend two meetings on each session. It is provoking us to lots of discussion, and contains some brilliant ‘nuggets’ of truth and teaching that are helping us all.