The Whole of Life for Christ
Antony Billington and Mark Greene, IVP, 2015

£4.99 (Approx)
4.6
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Enriching Everyday Discipleship. 7 studies for individuals or small groups.

Suppose for a moment that Jesus really is interested in every aspect of your life. Everything – the dishes and the dog and the day job and the drudgery of some of the stuff you just have to do, the TV programme you love, the staff in your local supermarket as well as the homeless in the local shelter, your boss as well as your vicar, helping a shopper find the ketchup as well as brewing the tea for the life group, the well-being of your town and the well-being of your neighbour …

Suppose the truth that every Christian is a new creature in Christ, empowered by the Spirit to do his will, means that Christ is with you everywhere you go, in every task you do, with every person you meet …

Suppose God wants to involve you in what he’s doing in the places you spend your time day by day …

Suppose your whole life is important to Christ …

It is.

These seven studies will help you explore and live out the marvellous truth that the gospel is an invitation into whole-life discipleship, into a life following and imitating Jesus.

What do you get?

A5 book plus optional free downloadable/emails/e-formats of participants’ PDFs. Seven studies:

  1. Whole-life gospel – the amazing scope of Christ’s work
  2. Whole-life wisdom – the compelling beauty of God’s ways
  3. Whole-life purpose – the surprising role of God’s people
  4. Whole-life fruitfulness – the extraordinary resources of God’s Spirit
  5. Whole-life mission – the glorious richness of Christ’s commission
  6. Whole-life hope – the transforming power of God’s plan
  7. Whole-life worship – the awe-inspiring wonder of God’s protection

Who is it for?

Adult growing Christians, small groups

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Well-produced A4 book, clearly set out material, easy to access online resources. Contemporary. Highly accessible.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Very clear layout. Clear aim of studying the impact of our faith on every aspect of it through linking the big picture of God's plan with our daily lives.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Short introduction to the leaders' notes at the back of the book assumes that leaders are familiar with how to lead a group, but emphasise the importance of affirming people in their everyday lives, and helping them to find and see the ways in which God is already at work in them – plus potential for the future. Clear icons and headings: First thoughts; Bible passage printed in full; Focus on the theme (general question); What does the Bible say? (4 questions); Going deeper (2 questions); Living it out (3 questions of application) Prayer time; Further study; some studies finish with a short piece illustrating the theme. The format is easy to use; the questions are creative; and the leader's notes at the back have notes on every question if you get stuck. Or even if you don't. But it would be a shame to jump to the ‘answers' too quickly as the questions are really good ones, and deserve wrestling with.

    Who could lead it?

    Probably best lead by a leader with a bit of experience, to keep the pace going, but the material is easy to use.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    The book itself provides lots of space for note-taking in each section. The extra material available online is designed to get people into the theme before they come to the group, whether or not they have a copy of the book themselves. It consists of a summary of the theme: The big idea (a sentence or two); the passage for the session (printed out in full); a relevant quote; and Reflect (a question to begin to engage with the theme). This extra material is short, sharp and would help to introduce the theme to busy group participants. The quotes are especially thought-provoking. The book material would work without this additional input.

    How good is any digital material?

    N/A

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Easy to use, this resource should not require a lot of preparation apart from familiarisation with the material, including the leader's notes.

    Is there website support? Links?

    Not directly, though the downloads/emails etc are available through IVP's website.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Material leaves it to the leader as to how to use most of the sections, though there are some specific times where pairs or smaller groupings are recommended. The suggestions for prayer are targeted to the topic, and would encourage interaction. Otherwise, it is down to discussion.

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

    This is a straight-forward read/discussion-based resource.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Would suit a wide variety of groups who are happy with the reading/ discussion style. Lots to think through, but the style is lively and engaging.

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

    The leader's notes encourage this specifically, and the questions are designed to help people think this through. Plenty of further reading is suggested, much of it recently published (as of 2015)

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Most of the material is based around biblical passages: one main passage per session, with additional suggestions under ‘Going deeper' and ‘Further study.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Allows the Bible to speak for itself, and encourages engagement with that. Carefully chosen passages for each topic illustrate the theme well, and sometimes unexpectedly, which is refreshing. Great questions which encourage both deep and broad responses.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Very well. Many questions are designed to engage on both a doctrinal plus personal level; thus illustrating the overall aim of integrating our personal stories with the big story of God.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Evangelical. Produced by Keswick Resources of Keswick Ministries and IVP.

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

    The aim of this resource is to inspire people towards whole-life discipleship. Great journey through many key areas, with lots of challenge. ‘First thoughts' sections are especially well written and inspiring. Really well thought-out and thought-through material overall.

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

    Great questions which aim to dig into the passage in non-obvious ways, encouraging growth in understanding. Application in ‘Living it out' are practical but not prescriptive.

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

    This resource aims high in that it attempts in seven studies to encompass a vast range of theology in an inspiring and understandable way, without spoon-feeding – and at the same time, link it all in to what this may mean for our very ordinary daily lives. For the most part, they succeed.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    There are the short pieces which illustrate the topic for some studies, and the overall feel of the material is that it is designed for people who live in the real world. Much of the application is left to the group to discover, prompted by searching questions.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    One session is devoted to this directly in a thoughtful and affirming way. The emphasis here, as in the rest of the resource, is to bring together the imperatives of the Bible with the reality of our daily lives, without compromising either.

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

    This is a strong thread both theologically and practically, though always leaving plenty of room for personal creativity.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    The massive canvas against which this resource is written includes this well, beginning with theological truth about creation. Great format for thinking this through, and lots of room for working out implications.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Direct theological challenge to engage with this and the biblical material it is based on.

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