I have to admit: I’m a Matt Chandler fan. I stumbled onto his podcast a few years back, and have really connected with his preaching. He’s easy to follow, funny, and engaging. And to top it all off…his sermons are biblically saturated. He preaches expositionally in a way that isn’t boring, and if you’ve spent much time under an expository preacher, you know that I’ve just given a huge compliment to Chandler. For some reason, I feel like I connect with Matt’s style better than I do other big-name preachers. Needless to say, I was intrigued by this study.
But great sermons and great preachers don’t always translate well into small groups.
1. Chandler uses the same style of preaching in this video as he does on Sunday mornings. Like I said above, I have found it easy to connect with his preaching style.
2. There are very few questions. One of my critiques of Abide was that there were too many questions. It’s easy to throw a plethora of questions into each week’s discussion. The difficult part for writers (and editors) is choosing the best questions that draw out the most thoughtful, heart-searching answers. They have limited themselves to a 10-question max, and the questions that they’ve presented are really on-point.
3. There’s very little required homework. I try to consistently encourage those in my small group to spend time daily with the Lord. This curriculum gives them a natural place to start each day. But the next week’s questions aren’t built upon the prior week’s homework…and that’s a good thing. If you happen to miss a week, or get busy and don’t have time to look over the Scripture passage, you can just show up and immediately jump into the discussion.
4. “Diving deeper.” There’s a section each week that gives people the opportunity to go “deeper” in their own personal study of the passage. I like when a curriculum gives flexibility to differing levels of spiritual maturity.
5. The memory verse. I’m not great at memorizing Scripture. Ok…that’s a lie…let me try again. I don’t try very hard to memorize Scripture. But this study takes a verse from the passage that Chandler is preaching about, and encourages the group to memorize it. I love how this study integrates the discipline of Scripture memory.
6. The Scripture passages are right there in the book. I like to take notes when I hear sermons, and having the Scripture passages right there in the book allows me to take notes right alongside the discussion questions that the group will be talking about.
1. The sermons are 30 minutes long. I’m not opposed to 30 minute sermons, but the problem that groups run into is that sermons of this length can eat into discussion times.
2. This curriculum is 12 weeks long. In my opinion, that’s too long. If it doesn’t connect with your group, you could be stuck with it for quite a while. But wait, you say…if my group doesn’t like it, couldn’t we just tank it and pick up another study?? Well… (see below)
3. It’s really expensive. The DVD set alone (3 DVDs) is $149.95. That’s Beth-Moore-expensive. I get it…Chandler and the team put a lot of time and effort into this series. And it’s probably worth every penny. But this price point keeps it out of a lot of people’s hands.
All-in-all, this is a great study. I’ve gone back and read (in my personal study time) the book of Philippians, and have found a greater depth and richness to my study after having gone through this series. This is really a 12-week immersion in the Bible. You hear it preached. You read it. You memorize it. You learn how to interpret/understand it a little better. You discuss it. You’re challenged to live it out.
Your small group needs to pick this study up.