Desiring God and Crossway have partnered together to create some interesting new products. They have recently released three small group studies which combine lessons on DVD with book-format study guides. I will provide a brief description of each and then share my thoughts on the series:
Why We Believe the Bible. “With the deluge of communication around us–books, newspapers, blogs, journals, and magazines all insisting that their view of the world is most compelling–which should we trust? This is no small question. In fact, our answer has eternal implications. The twelve-session Why We Believe the Bible Study Guide and DVD are designed to help study groups and classes explore the claim that the Bible stands above all others as the book of books, pointing infallibly to the King of kings. Through the DVD teaching of Pastor John Piper and the five guided assignments per week, participants will study biblical texts and discuss probing questions to help them see why the Bible alone is worthy of our confidence.”
An Introduction to TULIP. In this study “John Piper walks study groups through each point in the DVD and its companion Study Guide, discussing the implications and the issues from a fully biblical perspective. Piper’s 30-minute DVD teachings cover topics that include the meaning of “total” in total depravity, doing missions when God is sovereign, Romans 9 and the two wills of God, and ten effects of believing the five points of Calvinism. This sixteen-session, guided group study equips facilitators, teachers, group leaders, and pastors to help their members understand the all-important differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. It also calls them to hold fast to biblical truth regarding God’s salvific work in his people’s lives.”
What’s the Difference? (available very soon from Monergism Books). “John Piper’s six, 30-minute DVD sessions lead groups in discovering what the Bible teaches about true manhood and womanhood and the impact of living out God’s design. ‘Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God,’ encourages John Piper. ‘He designed our differences, and they are profound.’ Yet when rightly understood according to God’s Word, God’s vision for both men and women ‘is not onerous or oppressive. It does not promote pride or self-exaltation. It conforms to who we are by God’s good design. Therefore it is fulfilling in the deepest sense of that word.’ With this as his context, Piper seeks to commend the beauty as well as the biblical truth of God’s design for men and women in this six-session small-group DVD and its companion Study Guide. Each 30-minute teaching of Piper’s delivers a powerful message to help Sunday school classes, small groups, churches, and families understand and celebrate the freedom of our God-given differences.”
I was pleased to find that these DVDs are not merely sermon excerpts squeezed and pressed into a study format. Instead, they have been (or appear to have been) recorded explicitly for the purpose. Each DVD features John Piper teaching from a stage (with a pulpit and overhead projector), leading the audience into a deeper appreciation of the subject. So these are not sermons as much as they are seminars. Therefore, it is a very natural context in which to participate via DVD either as an individual or as a small group. The Study Guide, which is both useful and well-written (never a given for Study Guides) offers a day-by-day format, which allows each lesson to extend over a week. And they are meaty, going far beyond the quick, the obvious and the unbearably light in the questions they ask and the concepts they cover. Do note that while the Study Guides will enhance the DVD, they are by no means necessary and the DVDs stand well on their own.
Whether you buy them for personal study, family study or small group study (or perhaps even homeschool study for high school students) these DVDs and associated study guides are well worth owning. The DVDs are slick, professional and well-produced and, of course, filled with great content. The books are also very well-made and well-written, majoring on the majors and enhancing the media content. These DVDs and Study Guides are a great addition to any personal or church library and I highly recommend them.